C. Moons fascination with Oxford Colleges history
began when he joined the college in 1988 as associate dean for
eclectic and beautiful styles of architecture evident in the
buildings facing the campus Green, the class photos from the
nineteenth century displayed in Seney Hall, and the austere
but powerful Soldiers Cemetery on the nature trail revealed
that this was a place of substance and interest, says
Moon, who came to Oxford from Emorys Campus Life division.
I wanted to know how this extraordinary place came to
College lies thirty-eight miles southeast of the Atlanta campus
in rural Newton County. Now a small, residential college offering
a two-year liberal arts curriculum, Oxford has about six hundred
students. Those who receive their associate of arts degree automatically
become Emory College juniors and can also apply for admission
to the schools of nursing or business.
But as Emorys original campus, Oxford remains the bearer
of much of the Universitys history and Methodist heritage.
The setting is serene and bucolic, with a sense of escape from
the stresses of modern life, says Moon. You
come here and just . . . exhale.
those who know Oxford, says Dean and Chief Executive Officer
Dana Greene 71G, it is a mythic place with a powerful
grip on the imagination.
has captured the colleges distinctive history and mission
in An Uncommon Place: Oxford College of Emory University,
published in April by Bookhouse Group of Atlanta. (Bookhouse
also published Vice President and Secretary of the University
Gary S. Hauks Emory University: A Legacy of Heart and
Mind, in 1999.)
biography begins with the chartering of Emory University
in Atlanta in 1915. The last Emory commencement held at Oxford
was in 1919, at which point all but one professor packed up
and moved their equipment and families to Atlanta. Oxford was
left with no endowment and very little support from the University,
which was busy establishing its new campus.
joke is that In the beginning, Emory left and took everything,
says Moon. Oxford had to start again from scratch.
Everyone you talk to about Oxford has a privation story, where
the colleges very existence was threatened: We kept
it alive, we sacrificed. But thats what shaped the
the years from 1914 to 2000, Moons coffee table book includes
more than sixty photographs and illustrations and tells of Oxfords
transformation from Emory College to a regional preparatory
school, a manual labor college, a junior college, and its current
incarnation, Oxford College of Emory.
Moons history of Oxford College is a carefully researched,
wonderfully thought out, and gracefully written story,
says Thomas G. Dyer, a historian who wrote the University of
Georgias history. He has mastered the subtleties
of institutional saga.
Oxfords tenure as a junior college, from 1929 to about
1961, it placed a priority on dynamic teaching and student involvement,
both inside and outside the classroom. While its devoted staff
and professors, who were sometimes paid less than local high
school teachers, could keep the flame of learning alive, keeping
the lights on was another matter.
the lean years, single light bulbs dangled from strings in the
classrooms, students used flashlights in the library at night,
faculty served as custodians as well as student advisersand
even helped to build the residence hall.
Virgil Y. C. Eady, who some claim saved Oxford through his persistence,
wrote to Emory administrators in 1959 that there was not one
adequately equipped classroom on the Oxford campus, and described
the Seney Hall offices as the most disreputable
the hardships, however, seemed only to bind the Oxford community
more tightly. And as Emory grew more prosperous, funds found
their way to Oxford as well. In the 1960s, Oxford adopted its
two-year curriculum and strengthened its status as a division
of the University. Linked now as we are by the interstate
and the Internet, says Moon, our students and faculty
virtually have access to all of Emorys resources.
teaching, student involvement, and a sense of community remain,
says Dean Greene, as evidenced by the colleges ratings
in last years National Survey of Student Engagement. Of
more than six hundred colleges, Oxford ranked in the top 10
percent in three of the five benchmarks: level of academic challenge,
student interactions with faculty, and enriching educational
Moon often wishes he could go back and walk the grounds
in the 1920s, hes been happy to see Oxford embrace
some modern elements. The college has gone high-tech, as evidenced
by its new computer lab and smart classrooms. And,
although many of its students are still drawn from the Southeast
and Georgia, they include students whose families have immigrated
from around the globe. Recently, a Hindu celebration was held
on campus, with more than forty students of Indian descent participating
in the ritual.
snapshot of Oxford today doesnt look like the old snapshots.
Its more diverse, ethnically and religiously. But the
intimate environment is the thread that goes all the way back,
says Moon. At Oxford, we want to know your name and your
Uncommon Place: Oxford College of Emory University is available
only through the Oxford Bookstore, 770.784.8365.