Great Expectations

Ethics, Diversity, and Teaching

David B. Gowler, Pierce Professor of Religion, Oxford College


Emory's New President and the Idea of a University
Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching


Practical Matters
Rebecca Stone-Miller, Associate Professor of Art History and Faculty Curator


Economic Challenges and the Art of Education
Geoffrey Broocker, Walthour Delaperriere Professor of Ophthalmology

A Fresh Perspective for Perennial Problems
David Carr, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Philosophy

Teaching versus Research: Does It Have to Be That Way?
Lucas Carpenter, Charles Howard Candler Professor of English, Oxford College

Becoming a Top-Tier Research University
Lawrence W. Barsalou, Winship Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology, and Elaine Walker, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

A More Positive University
Corey L.M. Keyes, Associate Professor of Sociology

Advice from the Lighter Side
Vicki Powers, Asssociate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science

Return to Contents

I believe the new president should foster and build upon three essential components of Emory's heritage and unique character: our ethical vision and mission; our diverse, global role and perspective; and our long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and learning. All three aspects are critical elements of Emory's 1992 Mission Statement and the (unfortunately neglected) 1998 report from former Chancellor Billy Frye, A Vision for Emory. In addition, I would argue strongly that these three elements are not just cornerstones of Emory's heritage; they also are essential building blocks for our continued success.

First, as the 1992 Mission Statement affirms, "education entails an obligation to use knowledge for the common good." A college education should intrinsically involve ethical values and decision making--the dynamic processes by which individuals and groups make significant choices and evaluate their own as well as other ways of life. How can Emory continue to enact this vision? In my view, the principal actor and catalyst should be the Center for Ethics.

The Center for Ethics offers vital resources and strategies for the Emory community to support and promote ethical enquiry, stimulate moral imagination, encourage ongoing ethical debate, and
facilitate personal and corporate responsibility. The center's faculty and staff provide unique resources, and their efforts must have a more central place in the life and work of the university. The Center for Ethics should therefore be directly related to the Provost's Office; it should also have a heightened physical presence on campus--a visual reminder of our ethical responsibilities and mission. As the 1992 Mission Statement declares, "education is a strong moral force in both society and the lives of its individual members. It is that conviction, above all others, that guides Emory University today." We should recommit ourselves to that ethical mission in demonstrable ways.

Second, as A Vision for Emory succinctly states, Emory "should continue to develop an aggressive and coherent strategy to promote internationalization and globalization of its education, research, and service programs." Emory has made tremendous progress in this respect, but much remains to be done. The increasing diversity of our student body (for instance, nearly 40 percent of Oxford students represent ethnic minority groups) creates a dynamic atmosphere for learning communities both inside and outside the classroom. My religion classes are greatly enriched by the diversity of the students and their faith traditions, whether Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, or other traditions.

The diversity of Emory faculty also contributes to our variety and to our international perspective. Emory must continue to support and expand opportunities for students and faculty to interact more deeply with other people, cultures, and perspectives. The resources provided by the Halle Institute, the Institute for Comparative and International Studies, faculty development grants, the University Council on International Affairs, and the Office of International Affairs, for example, indicate that the "internationalization" of Emory is well under way.

Yet, as President Carter candidly noted in his meeting with Emory faculty on March 20, 2003, Emory's Board of Trustees does not adequately reflect these advances in diversity and global perspective (as a glance at the current membership reveals: www.emory.edu/SECRETARY/Trust ees/). More varied and diverse board members would contribute both to the depth and breadth of our international vision, profile, and mission.

Third, Emory must remain a place where excellence in teaching and learning is valued. A Vision for Emory notes that "the central place that teaching--our first claim to excellence--has occupied in the heart of Emory . . . must continue [to be] the principal manifestation of our commitment to education of the highest quality." The report also recognizes the essential role that Oxford College plays in this mission: "Oxford is a unique source of strength within the university. Not only does it symbolize the roots of the institution, but it . . . offers a valuable model for teaching and curriculum development." Oxford faculty conduct a wide variety of research, but we are justifiably renowned for our research in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Oxford is an incredible laboratory and facilitator of liberal learning, and its role within Emory University is critically important.

A recent study at the Goizueta Business School documented that Oxford continuees perform slightly better academically at the business school than do their Emory College colleagues. Oxford College, therefore, continues to show how the scholarship of teaching can be at the nexus of the scholarships of discovery (research), integration, and application (service).

I believe our moral vision, diversity, and excellence in teaching and learning are inherently interrelated; they are essential components of Emory's heritage as well as our future success. These three elements are eloquently presented in both Chanc ellor Frye's A Vision for Emory and our 1992 Mission Statement. Unfortunately, however, some of these elements are not as clearly stated in the current (2002) Mission Statement. I believe that this discrepancy, though, provides the new president of Emory with an opportunity to lead a university-wide discussion of these issues. My wish is that the new president will take these foundational values seriously, embody them in her or his leadership practices, and thereby lead us successfully as we face the opportunities and challenges of the years ahead.