New beginnings have been trademarks of his summer so far, but being a supportive dad from the stands at his sons’ baseball games comes first.
Dr. Jeff Mercer was named dean of the College of Pharmacy in April and began his role on June 1 when Dr. Julie Hixson-Wallace, the previous dean, moved into her new role as vice provost for accreditation.
“The most pleasant surprise of this transition has been the support of friends and colleagues,” Mercer said. “It really has seemed like everybody is pulling for me, and personally that means a lot to me.”
Mercer has been able to witness department- and campus-wide change. From watching his predecessor move into her new role to seeing new hires within the College of Pharmacy, Mercer said it’s been a whirlwind.
“It seems like transition is everywhere, and I’m a part of a lot of transition that is going on,” Mercer said. “Once you’re in the midst of change with a positive attitude, you begin to look around and see so much opportunity. There is so much room for meaningful engagement, and I think that is something that people are excited about.”
Amid all the change, Mercer still finds time for family, friends and fishing. Earlier this summer, Mercer and Executive Vice President David Collins spent an afternoon fishing on Crooked Creek, which Mercer said is something he has wanted to do since he moved to Arkansas. Outside of fishing, Mercer spends time with his three sons, devoting much travel and many hot summer days to baseball.
“We just got back from Laurel, Mississippi, where my youngest son was playing in the Dixie Youth World Series,” Mercer said. “The other two made it to the state tournaments with their teams, so that’s really driven a big part of my summer.”
As the school year nears, Mercer’s focus turns to the students and the possibilities for success and service among students and faculty within the College of Pharmacy.
“I think pharmacy is one of the greatest professions ever, and I think the students who make a choice to be a pharmacist are choosing a great profession and one that holds the public’s trust,” Mercer said. “We’re one of the most trusted professions in the United States, and as such, I think Harding is well positioned to lead in that area being a faith-based university with a mission mindset. I hope our students realize that great responsibility and opportunity.”
To pharmacy students, Mercer urges making the most of their time at Harding by taking advantage of all that is offered and making deliberate decisions about the future.
“I look back at my time as a pharmacy student, and it was my opportunity to set the tone for the rest of my life,” Mercer said. “I would just encourage students to see their time here in the College of Pharmacy as a great opportunity and to take their time seriously and make meaningful choices about their future.”
With just two weeks until students start class for the 2016-17 school year, Mercer said he’s eager to begin the year and see students back on campus and in the classrooms.
“It’s never a burden for me to wake up in the morning and come to work here in the College of Pharmacy,” Mercer said. “That helps me to know I’m doing the right thing, and it speaks volumes about our incredible faculty, staff and students here in the College of Pharmacy and Harding.”
Kaleb Turner, public relations intern