Mercer Alumni Chapters Now Forming

Barbara Kieker

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

With 71,000 Mercer University alumni worldwide and 7,300 in the metro Macon area, it's no surprise that spontaneous alumni gatherings occur in cities across the country. That's especially true during major sporting events such as Mercer's appearance in the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament.

According to Jill Kinsella, Executive Director of the Alumni Association at Mercer and Associate Vice President of Alumni Services, 30 or more watch parties were held around the U.S. during the tournament by Mercer alumni who found each other through Facebook or other social media. This affirmed Mercer’s plan, which was already in the works, to build a chapter program to help facilitate these types of gatherings.

"The NCAA watch parties were a bit of a preview of what our new alumni chapter program will look like. It will be a casual, informal network of Mercerians who want to get together, whether it's a dozen people or a hundred," Kinsella said.

New chapters will launch this fall in Macon, Atlanta, D.C. and Charlotte. Volunteer chapter leaders have been identified and launch parties will be held soon. The alumni association will support the chapters with services such as online event registration.

Perks and Benefits for Alumni
Upon graduating from Mercer, all alumni are eligible for certain perks and benefits. For example, all graduates have access to the career services office at Mercer and BEARLink, the online job resource for both job seekers and employers. Alumni also have library privileges at any University system library, which includes reference help.

"We have experts in many areas of study and they are wonderful resources for anyone needing help with most any type of research," Kinsella said.

Kinsella is actively pursuing discounts and benefits for Mercer alumni through affinity partners. For example, Barnes & Noble operates the on-campus bookstore and provides coupons and email notification of sales and promotions to alumni who join their email list. Alumni also receive discounts on rentals of on-campus venues such as Newton Chapel, a popular wedding venue.

"Alumni can get discounted rates at some Macon hotels, especially during homecoming in the fall," Kinsella said.

Connecting With Alumni
Every Mercer graduate is a member of the school's alumni association. There is no annual registration process or dues requirement. However, that means it is up to Mercer alumni to keep their contact information up to date in order to stay connected with the alumni association. Kinsella also urges alumni to connect with the school by supporting Mercer sports teams at both home and away games, especially the homecoming game on Nov. 1.

"We refer to homecoming as the annual convention for Mercer University… the pinnacle of our year-long efforts to engage our alumni," Kinsella said.

Registration for homecoming events has grown dramatically over the past three years, from 700 in 2011 to 2,300 in 2013. This year, the goal for event registration is 2,800 and more than 10,000 guests are expected on campus over the course of the weekend.

Alumni can support the school in other ways – from serving on an alumni board to donating funds for scholarships, the annual fund or school-specific giving.

"Alumni can also advocate for Mercer by encouraging prospective students to visit the campus. We always feel if we can get a student to the campus, then we have a good chance of getting them to choose Mercer," Kinsella said.

Connecting With Local Businesses
Kinsella encourages members of the business community to become members of the school's business enrichment series called The Executive Forum, which is presented by BB&T. Membership information for The Executive Forum is available at

The series brings nationally and regionally known business leaders and media personalities to the Mercer campus.

"In May, we had former ESPN Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer speak. It was near the end of his 33-year career at ESPN, so he shared a look back at his career and how ESPN had evolved. It was very well received," Kinsella said.

Sponsorship opportunities are available to businesses for 2014 Homecoming, many of which provide high visibility to the weekend's large gathering of students, alumni and other fans of Mercer. Businesses can also provide financial support directly to Mercer and/or specific programs.

Certainly one of the most important ways businesses can connect with Mercer is by hiring Mercer graduates and students. Career Fairs are held in the fall and spring for graduating students. Internships – including senior design projects (School of Engineering) – are ways for businesses to engage with Mercer students. Senior design projects allow students to test their engineering knowledge in a real-world setting prior to graduation. On each project, three to four students collaborate to design, build, and test a realistic engineering system under faculty supervision for a real-world client in industry.

More information on Mercer University is available at


About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.