William M. Chace

The academic year 1994-95 in retrospect

The academic year 1994-95 is now enough in the past and yet fresh enough in memory to have assumed its own identifiable character. From my perspective, it was a wholly successful year for Emory. About many things, all of us can be proud. About some others, we can be hopeful. But a note of warning amid the good news I want to share with you: we must now be watchful, even apprehensive, about certain dangers which none of us on campus can control. The University is in excellent shape, but higher education in the United States has a good deal to be worried about.

First, about Emory: from the moment early in the fall, when U.S. News and World Report identified us as having moved from the position of number twenty-five among research universities to number sixteen, to the moment in the spring when we were invited to join the Association of American Universities (the sixty most productive and accomplished research universities, private and public, in the United States), those of us on campus could feel that the extraordinary efforts of my distinguished predecessor, James T. Laney, to match the intrinsic excellence of the school to its external perception had very handsomely come to fruition. Those who knew Emory had for some time seen it as a major participant in the research and teaching enterprise, at its best, in this country; now the country itself has come to that recognition.

Our presence in the thinking of those who applied to Emory also proved to be stronger in 1994-95. More of the very best high school graduates from throughout the country applied for undergraduate admission. Their grades and their SAT scores were the best we had ever seen. Moreover, those students held Emory high in their minds as they sorted out the several admission offers many of them received in the early spring; we did not move at all to the waiting list, for the students we most wanted were among those who most wanted us. Some 40 percent of those students are from the Southeast; some 18 percent are from Georgia. The rest are from everywhere else, for we are increasingly a national institution. In the medical arena, the competition was even more electric and intense. For 110 positions in the entering class in the School of Medicine, for example, the mail brought in more than eight thousand applications.

This past year, our bonds with The Carter Center, a beehive of social, medical, and peace-keeping activity, were strengthened. We entered formally and legally into a relationship with The Carter Center that will allow the University to profit more richly from the worldwide activities of President and Mrs. Carter and the staff of The Carter Center and that, at the same time, will draw The Carter Center and the Carters more intensely into the teaching and research milieu of the University.

Although many commentators have remarked for years that Emory will be great just as soon as it gets built, and while I remarked in my inaugural address that I would like to look forward to the moment when we can say that "our building projects now have ended; we are complete at Emory; let us learn and teach in what we have constructed," I must report that the building races on at a dramatic clip. We happily opened the Grace Crum Rollins Building of the Rollins School of Public Health; we broke ground in the spring for the new Roberto C. Goizueta Business School; we are nearing completion of the Hugh F. MacMillan Law Library; we opened the doors of a new Studio Arts Building; and we saw, on the very day it opened, a glorious day of baseball (Emory the victor) at the jewel-like Robert Chappell baseball stadium.

The Campaign for Emory, thanks in part to many generous alumni, is breathtakingly near the finish line of $400 million; our endowment has crested over the $2 billion mark; we have managed well the handsome bounty that is ours.

What, then, are the danger signs I see? First of all, higher education, at least in the halls of Congress, is not viewed with the same favor it has enjoyed for many years. The result is that we might be seeing fewer of the funds that have substantially helped us with necessary financial aid for our students and with research support for our faculty. Should the cuts we fear come to pass, we will survive, but we will survive with less and we will have to husband our own resources with even greater stringency. While we happen to be one of the most generously endowed private institutions in the country, every dollar we have now works to support something essential. Should the federal government decide, even in the face of more than forty years of handsomely successful investment in the best universities in the country, to shrink that investment, the anguish you will hear will be ours.

This, then, my report to you, all too brief. For a better look at things, come to the campus! Let me end with this: for me, and for my wife, JoAn, we have found a home at Emory that could not be more welcoming and attractive. We have found a legacy of excellence and an institution and a culture that aspire to continuing excellence while knowing the University has already captured some of the very best that academic life has to offer. One bright and rich year has passed, another promising one has begun. We delight, as should you, in the prospect.

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