On Oct. 18, Mercer University announced that former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal was appointed as a Distinguished University Professor. He will begin serving as a government professor in January 2020.
A Mercer alumnus, Deal attended the university for his bachelor’s and law degrees and served two terms as the Governor of Georgia as a member of the Republican party from 2011 to 2019.
At Mercer, the role of a “distinguished professor” is the highest ranking faculty position, recognizing exceptional scholarship and involvement. Deal joins six other professors at Mercer with this ranking, according to the Spring 2018 edition of “The Mercerian.”
“These are people who have extraordinary accomplishments in their fields,” Mercer President William Underwood said. “When I look at Nathan Deal’s career and what he’s accomplished… he certainly meets that definition.”
These professors fulfill different roles at the university, with some serving as traditional professors and others as visiting or adjunct roles.
Deal will not serve as a traditional professor; he will instead deliver a series of lectures every year open to the entire Mercer student body, according to Underwood.
“My idea was not that he come in and teach a Government 101 class,” Underwood said. “What I thought would be really interesting for students is to hear somebody who’s been as successful and influential in government as he has, talking to students about some of the difficult decisions he had to make over his career.”
The exact content of these lectures is not yet solidified, but Underwood said Deal will discuss his own experiences and about “leadership lessons” that he learned through his time working in government.
“You (Mercer students) are all preparing to be future leaders in one way or another, and I think hearing from somebody that’s had to make difficult decisions and learn lessons from those decisions will make you better,” he said.
According to Underwood, after several of these lectures, Mercer University Press will publish a book.
“I think it’s a unique opportunity for our students,” Underwood said. “One of the things I want you (students) to do is do things outside of their classes that’ll expand their mind and enrich their experience here, and this is just another opportunity to do just that.”