Notable Alumni

Mercer University has been preparing leaders who make a difference in their professions, their communities and the world since 1833. Here are some of Mercer’s more notable alumni.

Arts, education, media, and industry

Steve Berry, LAW 1980, popular best-selling author of six novels including several New York Times bestsellers.

J. Buford Boone, CLA 1929, Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper writer (1957); recognized for editorials against segregation

David Bottoms, CLA 1971, HON 2005, is an award winning poet and former Georgia Poet Laureate

Baciliky Andris "Betty" Cantrell, while a student in Mercer’s Townsend School of Music, was crowned Miss Georgia 2015, and Miss America 2016.

John Couric, CLA 1941, former United Press International editor and journalism professor; daughter, Katie, is anchor for television and online news. 

Josiah Crudup, 1923, helped build original radio tower and establish WMAZ at Macon, former president of Brenau College

Milton Cruz, CLA 1982, serves as chairman, president and chief executive officer of MedHoldings Inc. MedHolding's affiliated entities serve as health care real estate investment vehicles, managers, owners and operators of healthcare facilities in Puerto Rico, Georgia, and Florida. MedHoldings specializes in the acquisition of assisted living Facilities (ALFs), memory care communities and other health care related entities.

Harry Stillwell Edwards, LAW 1876, HON DIV LIT 1923, former editor, Macon Telegraph; author of 19 books including the Southern classic Eneas Africanus

Barry P. Fanaro, CLA 1975, Hollywood screenwriter (Men in Black II, Kingpin, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, The Golden Girls)

Searcy Garrison, CLA 1934, served as executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, instrumental in convincing GBC that Mercer must have academic freedom

Nancy Grace

Nancy Grace

Nancy Grace, CLA 1981, LAW 1984, prosecutor and former host of the popular legal analysis program on Headline News called Nancy Grace. She previously served as an anchor for Court TV network and legal commentator and guest host for CNN's Larry King Live.

H. Terrell Griffin, CLA 1966, LAW 1968, practicing attorney, member of American Board of Trial Advocates, holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100 Ton Masters License, author of three best-selling mystery novels: Longboat Blues (2005), Murder Key (2006) and Blood Island (2008)

Rufus Carrollton Harris, CLA 1917, dean of Mercer Law School, 1925-1927, and Tulane Law School, 1927-1937; president, Tulane University, 1939-1960; president, Mercer University, 1960-1979; co-authored the G.I. Bill

Budge Huskey, CLA 1981, served as president and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC until 2016.

John F. Hogan Jr., 1940, founding president, Radio and Television News Directors Association, the world's largest organization devoted to broadcast journalism

Malcolm Malone Johnson, 1926, Pulitzer Prize winning author (1949); his reports were the basis for On the Waterfront, which starred Marlon Brando

Anne B. Kerr, CLA 1976, president, Florida Southern College

William Heard Kilpatrick, CLA 1901, career educator; acting president of Mercer University 1903-1905; co-founder and trustee of Bennington College in Vermont

Landrum P. Leavell, CLA 1948, president, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 1975-1995

Andrew Light, CLA 1989, moral philosopher; author and editor of 17 books on environmental ethics, philosophy of technology, and aesthetics

James Thomas “Tom” McAfee, III, BUS 2000, is chairman and president of Hallmark Systems, Inc., a Georgia-based healthcare corporation. The McAfee family, including Tom’s parents, Carolyn Townsend McAfee and the late James T. McAfee, Jr., provided founding endowments for Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology and Townsend School of Music.

Reg Murphy, CLA 1955, HON 1975, former president and vice chairman, National Geographic Society; former publisher, Baltimore Sun; former editor and publisher, San Francisco Examiner; and former editor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; author of Uncommon Sense: The Achievement of Griffin Bell

George P. Oslin, CLA 1920, former Western Union executive; invented the singing telegram in 1933

Lyman Ray Patterson, CLA 1949, LAW 1957, noted law professor and copyright scholar; former dean, University of Georgia School of Law

Jack Perry, CLA '1951, formerly with U.S. Foreign Service-Moscow, NATO headquarters and Paris, former deputy chief of mission in Prague, Stockholm and Bulgaria, former U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria

James W. Rachels, CLA 1962, moral philosopher, university professor, and author; best known for his writing on euthanasia

Ferrol Sams, CLA 1942, widely read Southern author noted for Run with the Horsemen and Whisper of the River, the sequel where he writes about his days at Mercer through the eyes of his main character, Porter Osborne at Willingham University.

Robert A. Sauerberg Jr., BUS 1990, president of Conde Nast

Patrick Shannon, BUSA MBA 1987, vice president and treasurer, Ingersoll Rand

G. Neil Skene, LAW 1977, president and publisher, Congressional Quarterly, 1990-1997

George McIntosh Sparks, CLA 1909 (AB), 1929 (MA), HON LLD 1933, founded Georgia State University (1955)

Eugene W. Stetson, CLA 1901, HON LAW 1933; A  Macon native, Stetson joined Guaranty Trust Company of New York in 1916 as vice president at age 35, and eventually became its president and chairman. Stetson is considered one of the nation's great financial magnates of the 20th century. Mercer’s Stetson School of Business and Economics was named in his honor in 1984.

Steve Stoler, CLA 1980, news reporter for WFAA in Dallas, Texas; noted for his coverage of the Branch Davidian Siege in Waco, Texas

Jack W. Tarver, CLA 1938,  publisher, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1958-1976; chairman, Associated Press, 1977-1983, namesake of the Jack Tarver Library on the Macon campus

Corbett H. Thigpen, CLA 1946, MD, discovered "Eve," who had multiple personalities; wrote Three Faces of Eve

Ellis Paul Torrance, CLA 1940, educator known for pioneering research in creativity; namesake of the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development

William Tryon, 1835, member of Mercer's first graduating class, traveled to Texas as a missionary and was one of three founders of Baylor University, along with Judge R.E.B. Baylor and James Huckins

Phil Walden, CLA 1962, music pioneer and founder of Capricorn Records; discovered Otis Redding and represented The Allman Brothers


A. Harris Adams, CLA '70, LAW '71, former Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals

Griffin B. Bell

Griffin B.Bell

Griffin B. Bell, LAW 1948, HON 1967, Judge, United States Court of Appeals, 1962-1976; 72nd Attorney General of the United States, 1977-1979.

John Sammons Bell, CLA 1937, Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals, 1960-1979; Chief Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals, 1969-1979.

Reason Chesnutt Bell, LAW 1902, HON LLD 1936, Chief Justice, Georgia Supreme Court, 1943-1946; Associate Justice, 1932-1943 and 1946-1949; Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals, 1922-1932

William Augustus "Gus" Bootle, CLA 1925, LAW 1925, HON 1982, Federal District Judge, 1954-2005; ordered the first admission of an African-American to the University of Georgia in 1961. The federal courthouse in Macon, Ga., is named in his honor.

G. Harrold Carswell, LAW 1980, Judge, United States Court of Appeals, 1969-1970; unsuccessful nominee to the United States Supreme Court, 1970

Linton M. Collins, CLA 1921 (AB) CLASS 1921 (MA), Judge, United States Court of Claims, 1964-1972

G. Brainerd Currie, LAW 1935, law professor; noted conflict of laws scholar who developed the characterization concept of governmental interest analysis

Thomas Hoyt Davis, CLA 1939, LAW 1940, Senior Judge, Federal District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, 1945-1969

Sara L. Doyle, LAW 1994, Chief Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals

W.H. "Homer" Drake Jr., CLA 1954, LAW 1956, Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge for the Northern District of Georgia; appointed to the court in 1964

Beverly D. Evans Jr., CLA 1881, Georgia Supreme Court Justice, 1904-1917; Federal District Judge for the Southern District of Georgia, 1917-1922

Albert John Henderson, LAW 1947,  Judge, United States Court of Appeals, 1979-1999; Judge, Federal District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, 1968-1979

M. Yvette Miller, CLA 1977, LAW 1980, Chief Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals; first African-American woman to serve on the court and the first African-American woman to serve as chief judge

W. Carlton Mobley, CLA 1928, LAW 1928, Chief Justice, Georgia Supreme Court, 1972-1974; Associate Justice, 1954-1972; United States Representative, Georgia's 6th Congressional district, 1932-1933

W. Louis Sands, CLA 1971, LAW 1974, Chief Judge, Federal District Court for the Middle District of Georgia; first African-American to serve on the court

Jay Sekulow, CLA 1977, LAW 1980, chief counsel, American Center for Law and Justice and the European Centre for Law and Justice

Evett Simmons, LAW 1982, former president, National Bar Association

Hugh Thompson, LAW 1969, retired Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice

Marc Treadwell, LAW 1981, U.S. District Judge

L. Lin Wood Jr., CLA 1974, LAW 1977, nationally-recognized attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. He represented the late Richard Jewell, the security guard falsely accused in the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta in 1996. Wood has represented a number of high-profile clients including John and Patsy Ramsey, parents of JonBenét Ramsey, Herman Cain, former Congressman Gary Condit and Dr. Phil.

Medicine, Pharmacy, Health

Leila Denmark, Tift 1922, nationally-renowned pediatrician who practiced medicine past her 100th birthday.

Dr. Spencer Bidwell King, III, CLA 1958, is a pioneer in cardiac catheterization and co-developer of the multi-purpose technique of coronary arteriography. He is world-renowned as a pioneer and leader in interventional cardiology. In 2009, Dr. King received the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics Career Achievement Award for his many clinical and academic contributions to the field. He is a professor emeritus at Emory University School of Medicine and editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions.

Dr. Donald Ervin Baxter, CLA 1965, an orthopedic surgeon, specializes in foot and ankle medicine, and is one of America’s leading experts in nerve compression syndromes. Dr. Baxter in 1984 first described the condition that would become “Baxter’s nerve entrapment.” While a member of the men’s basketball team, he was the roommate of Sam Oni, Mercer’s first Black student. In 1990, he was named to the Silver Anniversary All-America team by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He also received the prestigious NCAA Silver Anniversary Award.

Edward J. Schutter, Jr., B.S. Pharm. ’77, MBA, Founder and CEO of Arbor Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Melinda D. Screws, MED 1993, served as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force. As a pilot, she served in the Iraqi war in 2008, and then joined NASA, working with flight surgeons to support the shuttle program. She now serves as a physician for the Veteran’s Administration in Dublin, Georgia.

John T. Sherrer, B.S. Pharm. ‘77, 2014-2015 President, Board of Trustees, National Community Pharmacists Association; Former President of Georgia Pharmacy Association; Former President of Georgia State Board of Pharmacy

Hon. J. Ron Stephens, B.S. Pharm. ‘78, Georgia State House of Representatives; Chairman of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee


Ellis Arnall, CLA 1924, Governor of Georgia, 1943-1946

Doug Barnard, CLA 1943, LAW 1948, United States Representative, Georgia's 10th Congressional district, 1977-1993

Allen D. Candler, 1859, Governor of Georgia, 1898-1902; United States Representative, Georgia's 9th Congressional district, 1883-1891; namesake of Candler County, Georgia

Cathy Cox, LAW 1986, HON 2007, Dean of Mercer University's Walter F. George School of Law, former President, Young Harris College; Georgia Secretary of State, 1999-2007; first woman elected to this position

Edward E. Cox, LAW 1902, United States Representative, Georgia's 2nd Congressional district, 1925-1952

Nathan Deal, CLA 1964, LAW 1966, United States Representative 1992 - 2010, Georgia’s 82nd Governor 2011

Walter C. Dowling, CLA 1925, United States Ambassador to South Korea, 1956-1959; United States Ambassador to West Germany, 1959-1963

Robert W. Everett, United States Representative, Georgia's 7th Congressional district, 1891-1893

Walter F. George, CLA 1900, LAW 1901, United States Senator from Georgia, 1922-1957, served as President pro tempore, 1955-1957; namesake of Mercer's Law School

Thomas W. Hardwick, 1892, United States Senator from Georgia, 1915-1919; Governor of Georgia, 1921-1923; as Governor, appointed Rebecca L. Felton as the first female United States Senator

Richard B. Hubbard, 1851, Governor of Texas, 1876-1879; US Ambassador to Japan, 1885-1889

William D. Jelks, 1876, Governor of Alabama, 1901-1907

Thomas Goodwin Lawson, 1855, HON 1908, United States Representative, Georgia's 8th Congressional district, 1891-1897

Rufus Ezekiel Lester, CLA 1857, AM 1860, United States Representative, Georgia's 1st Congressional district, 1889-1906

Henry Dickerson McDaniel, CLA 1856, Governor of Georgia, 1883-1886

Charles L. Moses, United States Representative, Georgia's 4th Congressional district, 1891-1897

William J. Northen, 1853, Governor of Georgia, 1890-1894; president, Southern Baptist Convention, 1899-1901; served as a Mercer trustee for 44 years, 1869-1913

James W. Overstreet, 1888, United States Representative, Georgia's 1st Congressional district, 1906-1907 and 1917-1923

John W. Oxendine, CLA 1984, LAW 1987, served four terms as Georgia Insurance Commissioner

Homer C. Parker, LAW 1908, United States Representative, Georgia's 1st Congressional district, 1931-1935

John Peyton, CLA 1986, Former Mayor, Jacksonville, Fla., from 2003-2011. Current president of Gate Petroleum.

Charles "Jack" Pritchard, CLA 1972, United States Ambassador and Special Envoy for Negotiations to North Korea, 2001-2003

Dwight Laing Rogers, LAW 1910, United States Representative, Florida's 6th Congressional district, 1945-1954

William J. Sears, United States Representative, Florida's 4th Congressional district, 1915-1929; United States Representative, an at-large Florida district, 1933-1937

Chauncey Sparks, CLA 1907, LAW 1910, Governor of Alabama, 1943-1947

Malcolm Conner Tarver, LAW 1904, United States Representative, Georgia's 7th Congressional district, 1927-1947

Sandra L. Thurman, CAS 1992, director, Office of National AIDS Policy, 1997-2001; the first Presidential Envoy for AIDS Cooperation, 2000-2001; referred to as the nation's "AIDS czar" in the administration of President Bill Clinton

Carl Vinson, LAW 1902, United States Representative for more than 50 years, 1914-1965; long-time Chairman, House Armed Services Committee; has been called the "patriarch of the armed services" and the "father of the two-ocean navy;" namesake of the USS Carl Vinson

William S. West, AB 1875, LAW 1875, United States Senator from Georgia, 1914-1914

J. Mark Wilcox, LAW 1910, United States Representative, Florida's 4th Congressional district, 1933-1939

John S. Wood, LAW 1910, United States Representative, Georgia's 9th Congressional district, 1931-1935 and 1945-1953; Chairman, House Un-American Activities Committee, 1949-1953

12 Mercerians have served as governors - of the states of Alabama, Georgia, New Hampshire and Texas and of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico


Ross William Crossley, CLA 1960, Brigadier General, US Army - Commanding General, V Corps Artillery, 1983-1985; Chief of Staff, V Corps, 1985-1988

Benjamin S. Griffin, BUSA 1981, General, US Army - Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command, 2004-2008

Richard E. Hawes, LAW 1915, Rear Admiral, US Navy - commanded several vessels during World War II; recipient of the Navy Cross; namesake of the USS Hawes

Michael L. Howard, CLA 1986, Colonel, US Army - Commander, 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, the only airborne brigade in the Pacific Theater

Claude M. Kicklighter, CLA 1955, Lieutenant General, US Army - Commanding General, United States Army, Pacific, 1989-1991; after military retirement, served in senior civilian positions in the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs; Assistant Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs, 2001-2005; Inspector General, Department of Defense, 2007-2008

Charles Stewart Rodeheaver, TIFT 1985, Brigadier General, US Army - Deputy Commanding General, United States Army

William T. Thielemann, CLA 1967, Brigadier General, US Army - Commander, 48th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Georgia Army National Guard, 1995-1997

George J. Walker, CLA 1956, Brigadier General , US Army - Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, U.S. Army Forces Command, 1987-1989; member, Military Intelligence Hall of Fame

Perry L. Wiggins, CLA 1983, Lieutenant General, US Army - Commanding General, U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), and Senior Commander, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis

Blanton Winship, CLA, 1889, LAW, Major General, US Army - First Judge Advocate General of the Army(TJAG), 1931-1933; Governor of Puerto Rico, 1934-1939

Other public service

John Birch, CLA 1939, missionary and spy in China during World War II; namesake of the John Birch Society

Charles Kelsey Dozier, CLA 1903, missionary and founder of Seinan Gakuin University in Japan

Pearl Holmes Duvall, CLA 1948, teacher, artist, musician, chaplain, trailblazing minister and missionary to Nigeria; first female moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia; second Baptist woman ordained in Georgia

J. Truett Gannon, CLA 1951, influential Baptist minister; chairman, Truett-McConnell College Board of Trustees, 1985-1987; chairman, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, 1987-1990; president, Georgia Baptist Convention, 1990-1992

Louie D. Newton, CLA 1913, influential Baptist minister; president, Southern Baptist Convention, 1947-1948; president, Georgia Baptist Convention, 1950-1951; pastor of Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta for more than 40 years; namesake of Mercer's Newton Chapel

Lamar R. Plunkett, CLA 1931, past chair, University System of Georgia Board of Regents; past chair, Mercer Board of Trustees; former Georgia state senator; namesake of the Lamar R. Plunkett Lecture Series at the University of West Georgia; namesake of the Lamar R. Plunkett Award presented by the Southern Regional Education Board

Dr. Ed Roberts, MED M.D. 1986, according to the New York Times, made an early and enduring contribution to modern computing. He created the MITS Altair 8800, the world's first commerically successful, mass-produced personal computer. Some historians say Dr. Roberts deserves to be recognized as the inventor of the personal computer. Dr. Roberts left the computer business and was a member of the first graduating class of the Mercer School of Medicine and practiced rural medicine in Cochran, Ga.

Steadman Vincent Sanford, AB 1890, HM (LLD) 1932, former chancellor, University System of Georgia; namesake of Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia


J. Wallace "Wally" Butts, CLA 1928, head football coach, University of Georgia, 1939-1960; athletic director, 1939-1963; member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame

Andrea Congreaves, CLA 1994, Mercer's only consensus All-American in basketball

Sam Mitchell

Sam Mitchell

Wesley Duke, BUS 2004, former tight end for the Denver Broncos, 2005 AFC West Champions, after starring in basketball at Mercer

Big James Henderson, PEN 1994, powerlifter who competed in the International Powerlifting Federation and won five world bench press titles from 1994 to 1998

Kyle Alexander Lewis, professional baseball outfielder for the Seattle Mariners organization, was a first-round draft pick after his junior year at Mercer, and the 2016 Golden Spikes Award recipient.

Sam Mitchell, CLA 1985, former head coach, Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association, 2004-2008; selected as the 2007-2008 NBA Coach of the Year; 13-year playing career in the NBA 

Bill Yoast, CLA 1949, high school football coach made famous in the film, Remember the Titans

Numerous Mercerians have been Major League Baseball players


Suggestions for the Notable Alumni list may be submitted to Additions to and deletions from the list are made at the discretion of the University.