This month, President Mercer was one of three recipients of the Chamber Citizen of the Year Award. The award was given by the Mahwah Environmental Volunteer Organization (MEVO) to an organization, company and individual as a way to acknowledge and thank them for their involvement in the Mahwah community.
MEVO-which originally started as a club in 2008 at Mahwah High School setting up tree plantings and volunteer clean-ups at parks and rivers-has transformed into a successful non-profit, receiving recognition from Mahwah and its surrounding communities.
Mercer said that he sees the award as “very much a reflection of the significance of the College in the community, and not me personally.” He expressed that as the president of the College, accolades that Ramapo earns as an institution are often times put in his name, but he is not exclusively responsible for them.
Mercer also said that he has tried to make it one of his objectives to work more diligently with the community since he began as president in 2005. He has begun serving on the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce Board and the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey Board, in addition to working more frequently with Mayor LaForet of Mahwah’s office.
“We try to make sure we’re on the same wavelength as the township of Mahwah when it comes to those sorts of situations where we have mutual interest,” Mercer said.
In addition to making new connections, relationships and opportunities with the boards he serves on, Mercer is trying to make Ramapo College facilities as available as he can for the needs of the Mahwah police force.
“One of the things we do to accommodate the town and its police force is to let them use our facilities for training and other purposes,” Mercer said. “The police and the fire department are here every day, so we want to make sure they don’t think we’re taking advantage of their resources-we’re very grateful for that. Where we can be helpful to them, we want to do so.”
Assistant Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs, Anna Farneski, said that Mercer has been a major proponent of Ramapo’s success since his arrival seven years ago.
“From fundraising to faculty recruitment to serving as a thoughtful leader statewide on the needs of higher education, he has worked tirelessly to promote and protect the College and the quality of a Ramapo education,” Farneski said.
In addition to his hands-on approach to the College’s needs, Mercer is involved in sustainability.
“He has been a leader on [sustainability],” Farneski said. “Since his arrival, we have rebuilt a Sustainability Education Center, and he signed the President’s Climate Commitment.”
Mercer’s wife, Jacqueline, also began the Havemeyer Edible Garden in the spring of 2006, which has had a major impact on sustainability and nutrition education at Ramapo and the local community.
“The edible garden project ensured the opportunity to host workshops on nutrition for the community and students in local high schools, as well as here at Ramapo,” Mercer said.
Junior Kristen McCaffery was not aware that Mercer did so much with the community.
“It is great that he does all of this because it is a reflection of the College and what the students at Ramapo are working towards, so having that presence in the community is important,” McCaffery said.
The Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce and the company Inserra Supermarkets-which owns 21 local ShopRites, Ramsey included-both won a Chamber Citizen of the Year award this year along with Mercer.