Former President Jimmy Carter is joining the board of trustees at Mercer University in Macon. He is one of 10 new trustees who will be elected at the board’s meeting Friday morning.
The 88-year-old Plains resident will serve on the board for four years, completing another trustee's five-year term.
In a written statement, President Carter said he has "been impressed with how Mercer is combining research and service to solve real-world problems."
Macon City Councilor and veteran of the Carter White House Rick Hutto says he’s delighted the former president has been able to fit the job into his schedule.
"He obviously brings an incredible wealth of background and experience," Hutto said. "He also brings the unusual perspective of having been a longtime Baptist deacon and, of course, Mercer has a long heritage with the Baptist church."
Mercer and Carter were both born into the Southern Baptist Convention, and both have since severed ties with it.
Richard Wilson, chair of the Department of Christianity at Mercer, says his institution can be considered the intellectual home of progressive Baptist philosophy in the south, of which Jimmy Carter is the living embodiment.
"Mercer University was the first private institution in the state of Georgia to integrate, and that’s definitely one of the passions that the president had," Wilson said.
Carter attempted to broker a peace between the more conservative and liberal factions of Baptist life in the 1990s, but to little avail. He, Mercer, and former President Bill Clinton formed the alternative New Baptist Covenant in 2008.