EM Summer 2004



Emory Weekend

Alumni in Africa


Alumni Authors

In summer, the place enjoys the relaxed atmosphere of a neighborhood swim and tennis club; in the fall, it becomes a bustling college campus. Emory’s new Clairmont Campus, which opened in 2003, is nothing if not versatile.

During the warm months at least, the vast, sparkling blue pool is the epicenter of the Student Activity and Academic Center (SAAC), the heart of the Clairmont Campus. One of the most notable aspects of the SAAC is that it’s not just for Emory folk. Residents of the surrounding Atlanta community can buy a membership to the center for access to its posh facilities, including the pool, gym, a full range of exercise equipment fronted by the requisite row of TVs, eight tennis courts (six hard and two clay), outdoor basketball and volleyball courts, and Grille Works cafe. Even the locker rooms offer lockers of real cherry wood and machines that spin the water out of wet bathing suits. Outside the SAAC there is a grassy recreational field to complement the athletic facilities.

The SAAC offers a range of activities such as yoga, Pilates, and kickboxing, as well as swimming and tennis classes for all ages. The SAAC has more than 700 memberships, including families from the nearby Druid Hills and Decatur neighborhoods and alumni members.

“There was definitely a need in the community for a pool,” says Frank Gaertner, SAAC director. “The closest neighborhood pool has a four-year waiting list. So this is sort of a unique venture. The thing I like about it is that it really does bring the community and the University together. I believe that’s a good reflection on Emory.”

The SAAC and the residential buildings form the center of the Clairmont Campus, but its sixty-four acres also house the second location of the Clifton School, which provides childcare for Emory community members; the Hope Lodge for cancer patients and their families; the Mason Guest House for organ transplant recipients and their families; and the Autism Research Center, the state’s most comprehensive provider of services for children and adults with autism.

The students don’t call the campus the Clairmont Country Club for nothing. The undergraduate center, home to six hundred residents, is made up of apartments designed for four people, each connected by a fully equipped kitchen and living space and flanked by two roomy bathrooms. Graduate students have the option of one-, two-, or three-bedroom apartments, depending on their family needs. And the Tower Apartments re-opened last fall after a complete renovation, housing another four hundred undergraduates. The furniture, carpet, appliances, and fixtures are all new and state-of-the-art; all students have their own phone line.

“It’s hard to impress Emory students,” says Gaertner, who worked in Residence Life for ten years before coming to Clairmont. “But people really look surprised when they see this place. And I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard alumni say, ‘Why didn’t we have this when I was here?’”

Inside the SAAC building are three classrooms and three seminar rooms, all equipped with the latest audio-visual technology, where classes and study sessions will be held during the academic year; frequent shuttle service connects the SAAC to the main Emory campus. There also are a number of study spaces, beckoning students with plush dark-blue leather sofas and gleaming tables.

In addition to its student housing, the campus has eighteen spacious faculty apartments, home to professors such as senior biology lecturer Arri Eisen as well as his wife and two young sons. Eisen is participating in the Bridging Academics, Service and Ethics program, the brainchild of the Center for Ethics, the Program in Science and Society and the Emory Scholars Program. The idea is for faculty and students to share the same space, integrating their academic, extracurricular, and service activities.

“I think it’s perfect for young families,” Eisen says. “The SAAC is right there, and there are a lot of families in graduate housing. It’s also a 10-minute walk through the woods to work, so you can’t beat the commute.”–P.P.P.



© 2004 Emory University