From the capitol to the classroom: Former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal named professor at Mercer

Former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is bringing his political knowledge and experience to classrooms at Mercer University as a Distinguished University Professor of Government, according to a news release.

“I suppose I’ve always been somewhat of a teacher anyway. I’m the product of two teacher parents, so I’ve done a lot of teaching along the way just never had a designation as a professor or anything until now, but I do look forward to it. I think I do have some insights that I would like to share with the students,” Deal said.

Deal said his new position will consist of a series of lectures that are scheduled to start next year.

Mercer President William Underwood said they are still working out the details of Deal’s lecture series, but Underwood said he encouraged Deal to talk about the leadership lessons learned while making difficult decisions, such as Deal’s criminal justice reform, the decision to veto the religious liberty bill or the decision not to accept medicaid expansion.

“I’d certainly like him to talk about the substance of those decisions, but I think it would be even more significant for students to hear about what lessons of leadership he derived from having to make those kinds of tough decisions,” Underwood said.

Deal, who received his undergraduate and law degrees from Mercer, held the office of governor from 2011 to 2019 during which Georgia was the No. 1 state in the nation for business six years in a row, according to the release.

The Georgia Board of Regents agreed to appoint Deal as a Regents Professor earlier this year with a start date of March 1, according to an article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The board originally wanted him to teach at the University of Georgia, but Deal said after having back surgery in January, he asked to teach at the University of North Georgia because it is closer to his home.

Deal said he looks forward to traveling to his alma mater next year and talking with the student body at Mercer, a private university.

“They seemed to think that my experiences in public office would be beneficial to be able to convey the lessons that I have learned to the students, and hopefully I can do that,” Deal said.

A Distinguished University Professor is the highest academic rank a Mercer faculty member can achieve, and Deal shares the honor with six other professors at Mercer, according to the release.

Underwood said Deal’s first lecture will be after Jan. 1, and most of the lectures will be held in Macon with the possibility of a few in Atlanta. Underwood said after Deal completes his lecture series, Underwood hopes to publish the lectures through Mercer University Press.

“I just think it’s going to be a very meaningful experience for our students to be able to hear from someone who’s been such a successful leader in this region,” Underwood said. “These young people here are preparing for lives of leadership and service, and that’s what his life is about. ...I think that in my own life I’ve learned the most important lessons for me on leadership by exposure to other leaders, and I’m hopeful that our students will gain some valuable insights into effective leadership by exposure to Governor Deal.”

Jenna Eason is a multimedia reporter at The Telegraph and creates serviceable news around food, culture and people who make a difference in the Macon community. Jenna joined The Telegraph staff after graduating from Mercer University in May 2018 with a journalism degree.