Gordon E. Mercer, professor emeritus of political science at Western Carolina University, has been inducted into the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society Hall of Fame, an honor that only has been bestowed 19 times.
The Pi Gamma Mu Board of Trustees established the Hall of Fame in 2004 to recognize individuals who have a robust record of service to the social sciences honor society and an exemplary record of achievement and contribution in the social sciences.
Mercer has served Pi Gamma Mu as treasurer and first vice president and fulfilled two terms each as a regional chancellor and as president of the international organization. He currently serves as past president.
One of his nominators for the award noted that in all of these roles Mercer has served with distinction and taken a cooperative approach to working with students and faculty and board members, according to a release from Pi Gamma Mu.
As president of the society from 2005 to 2011, Mercer worked with the board and staff to set a course leading to growth within the organization. Programs included the ongoing chapter reactivation and new chapter initiative, which helped boost membership and increase chapters from 122 in 2004 to 150 in 2008 during a time of financial challenge.
Mercer also helped develop the society’s first International Directory of Members, which highlighted the society’s history and enabled the organization to add more than 20,000 email addresses to its listserv and communicate with lifetime members for the first time.
Also under his leadership with Pi Gamma Mu, additional regional meetings were held to enable students to present research papers and network with other Pi Gamma Mu members.
He served as the first faculty sponsor of the North Carolina Lambda Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu at WCU, which was established in 1982. During his tenure as chapter sponsor, it received the Joseph B. James Chapter Incentive Award and received the Roll of Distinction and Roll of Merit awards multiple times.
The chapter helped start a program that enabled graduates to return to WCU to speak to students and helped found the WCU Undergraduate Research Conference, which is now part of the WCU Honors College as the Undergraduate Expo.
Under Mercer’s guidance, the chapter worked with the Pi Gamma Mu Board of Trustees to design the Pi Gamma Mu flag to replace the flag that burned and was lost in the 1950s.
Mercer also helped establish a program in which members of the North Carolina Lambda Chapter served as advisers to youth participating in the American Youth Congress started by the WCU Public Policy Institute.
Mercer earned his doctorate at the University of Florida, master’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree at Wake Forest University.
Prior to joining the faculty at WCU in 1980, he worked at Barton College, the University of Mississippi, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Education.
At WCU, he has served as professor, department head, director of the master’s degree in public affairs program, associate dean of research and graduate studies and founder of the WCU Public Policy Institute. He was awarded the Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award in 1998 for success in academic service projects at WCU and excellence as a faculty member.
In addition, he was elected president of the North Carolina Political Science Association and later awarded the Distinguished Public Service Award for his work on policy summits as founder of the WCU Public Policy Institute.
Since his retirement, he has helped lead an effort to start the WCU Association of Retired Faculty and Staff.