William Mark McCullough, an actor, producer and 1995 graduate of Mercer University, was set to give the speech for Founders’ Day 2019. However, when University President Bill Underwood introduced the speaker at the event Feb. 6, he revealed that filming on McCullough’s most recent project had gone late and he had missed his 2 a.m. flight to Macon.
In his stead, Garland Crawford, associate professor of chemistry and a 1997 graduate of Mercer, delivered the speech.
“(Colleagues) would ask, ‘oh, when’s your turn coming up (to give a Founders’ Day speech)?’ And I sat there with the confidence of the secretary of agriculture thinking about taking over the presidency, like, yeah, sure, my turn’s next,” Crawford said. “So four days later, here we are.”
Student Government Association Senator-at-Large and Heritage Life Committee Chair Clark Myers, who led planning for this year’s Founders’ Day, introduced Crawford by saying it was a pleasure “having him as a professor and failing him as a student.”
As a student himself, Crawford enlisted in the military and underwent basic training between his junior and senior years of high school. He attributed his ability to attend Mercer to his military background and ROTC scholarship.
Underwood said in his introduction that basic training helped Crawford prepare his speech at the last minute. He said Crawford “was taught to always be prepared for any emergency that might arise.”
“He kept a draft of a Founders’ Day speech in his dresser drawer for the day he had an opportunity,” Underwood said.
Crawford said he wasn’t able to share every Mercer memory in his speech.
“So I sat down and was kind of making notes of fun stories that I wanted to share, but unfortunately, because of the tight timeline, I wasn’t able to obtain amnesty from Dean (of Students Doug) Pearson, so I kind of made my list and was like – oh, uh, probably not,” Crawford said. “Students, if you’re curious, find me after graduation. Track me down at Just Tap’d trivia, I’d be happy to (share) my history here at Mercer.”
Despite not ironing out the details of his amnesty, Pearson said that he was pleased with Crawford’s speech.
“Both the Student Government Association and myself are eternally grateful to Dr. Crawford for filling in,” Pearson said. “By all accounts, his remarks were as good, if not better, than speakers we have had in the past.”