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Mercer University Presidents

Rufus Carrollton Harris (1960-1979)

  • Served as Dean of the University'sundefined Law School from 1923-1927, prior to returning to Mercer as president 
  • Led Mercer to become one of the few private colleges in the South to admit qualified students without regard to race before being required to do so by the 1964 Civil Rights Act
  • Constructed the Stetson Library and the Willet Science Center
  • Merged Atlanta Baptist College into Mercer University in 1972
  • Laid the groundwork for the Mercer School of Medicine
  • Moved the Law School from the main campus to Coleman Hill in downtown Macon in 1978
  • Medals presented to RCH:
    • Medal of Excellence, Mercer University
    • Order of the British Empire, Queen Elizabeth the Second of the United Kingdom, August 18, 1969
    • French Legion of Honor, Republic of France, October 10, 1953
  • Quick bio: (1897-1982); A.B., LL.B., Juris.D., LL.D., Litt.D., D.C.L., L.H.D.; spouse: Mary Louise Walker (1918)


Letter excerpt from Harris to an alumnus opposed to integrating the University, November 6, 1962:

"I think any institution that receives tax exemptions, a public charter to operate and other public support is public enough to bring it within the Constitutional prohibition against racial educational discrimination. Besides, as a Christian, there is a matter of conscience involved, I think, in the seemingly un-Christian act of drawing a color line in education."



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