shining November afternoon, two Secret Service agents wait impassively
behind their sunglasses outside Emorys Rollins School
of Public Health, speaking periodically into their wrists. Inside,
fifty students taking a class in anthropology and international
health are in their seats early, abuzz with anticipation. At
2 p.m., a gleaming black Chevy Suburban rolls smoothly into
the circular driveway to pull up beside the small, nervously
expectant group gathered on the sidewalk. Former U.S. President
Jimmy Carter, silver-headed and distinguished in a dark suit,
steps out, accompanied by a handful of aides and security. He
graciously shakes hands with Jennifer Hirsch, the assistant
professor whose class hell be teaching today, and poses
briefly for a picture, flashing a practiced smile in the bright
scene is not entirely unfamiliar at Emory, but the former presidents
presence still carries a charge that seems to thrill everyone
he encounters. Without appearing to hurry, Carter sets a smart
pace that sends those around him scrambling to keep up. In the
classroom, he is both commanding and compelling, his down-to-business
approach tempered by his mild humor and unmistakable Southern
describes for Hirschs students the twenty-year-old marriage
between Emory and the Carter Center, the organization whose
work has consumed him and his wife, former First Lady Rosalynn
Carter, since shortly after he left the Oval Office in 1981.
Created to promote peace, democracy, and the resolution of conflict
around the world, the centers mission evolved to also
address massive shortfalls in global health.
greatest needs, Carter tells this class of potential public
health professionals, fall directly on the shoulders of
public health. Most choose [this work] because of cultural,
moral, or religious motivations.
a University Distinguished Professor since 1982, says he enjoys
teaching the occasional college class. Ive taught
in all the schools at Emory, he said in a recent interview
with Emory Magazine from his home in Plains, Georgia. It
has kept me aware of the younger generation, their thoughts
is, however, the first time Carter has appeared at the University
as a Nobel laureate. He won the Nobel Prize for Peace on October
11, 2002, for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful
solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and
human rights, and to promote economic and social development.
Carter had been considered a candidate for the prize since he
negotiated the Camp David Accords in 1978, his recent public
stance on international affairsincluding possible U.S.
aggression toward Iraqalso played a part in his winning.
When he accepted the Nobel gold medal in Oslo, Norway, in early
December, Carter repeated the warning that he had issued at
an Emory town hall event just weeks before the prize was announcedthat
war, sometimes a necessary evil, is always an evil, never
am here not as a public official, he said, but as
a citizen of a troubled world who finds hope in a growing consensus
that the generally accepted goals of society are peace, freedom,
human rights, environmental quality, the alleviation of suffering,
and the rule of law.
the past two decades, Carter has secured his reputation as the
most effective and accomplished former U.S. president in history.
At seventy-eight, he continues to guide the Carter Center with
a sure hand, clear vision, and legendary drive. Charged with
waging peace, fighting disease, and building hope,
the center has helped resolve conflict in developing countries
around the world. Always a leader by example, Carter, along
with Rosalynn and center staff, has personally monitored dozens
of elections around the world to ensure fairness in emerging
democracies. He received the U.N. Prize in the Field of Human
Rights in 1998 for the Carter Centers worldwide efforts
to preserve and promote human rights.
the principle that health is a basic human right, Carter also
has led the center to nearly eradicate the devastating Guinea
worm disease in regions throughout Asia and Africa, reducing
its incidence by 98 percent. Major inroads have been made in
the fight against river blindness, or onchocerciasis, and trachoma
in Africa and Latin America; efforts to combat schistosomiasis
(snail fever) and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis)
are succeeding as well. Agricultural programs aimed at cultivating
self-sufficiency have helped African farmers increase their
productivity by as much as 500 percent.
Carters continue to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity for one
week each year, building houses in the U.S. and abroad. Since
his presidency, Carter also has written sixteen books.
addition to teaching at Emory periodically and appearing at
town hall events, Carter holds small monthly lunch meetings
with various deans and professors to discuss the linkage between
their programs at Emory and those at the Carter Center. The
Carters also have a private breakfast each month with University
President William M. Chace to talk about developments at the
of Carters longstanding ties to Emory as a faculty member,
Carter Center partner, colleague, and friend, leaders across
the University greeted news of his Nobel Prize with shared pride
and pleasure. James T. Laney, who was president of the University
when the Carter Center was founded and helped form the partnership,
says the honor was long overdue. As U.S. ambassador to Korea,
Laney wrote a recommendation to the Nobel committee for Carter
could have come earlier, and it would have been eminently justified,
Laney says. But now it is a grand capstone of his life
and career for which we all rejoice.
have watched for years as this native son of Georgia has, since
his presidency, advanced, in many different ways, a vision of
healthy understanding among the nations and people of the world,
says Chace, who attended the Nobel ceremonies in Oslo. He
served his country well as president but he is now being recognized
for all that he has so superbly done since that presidency.
his lecture to Hirschs public health class, Carter encapsulates,
as neatly as possible in thirty minutes, these two decades of
Nobel-worthy endeavors. Afterward, when a student asks him how
he prioritizes the conflicting demands and influences he faces
in situations around the globe, he reveals the uncompromising
commitment and moral compassion that have marked his life as
a leader and helped to earn him the honor many consider the
highest in the world.
of the revelations that I have had since I left the White House,
he says, is the inseparability of the factors that shape
the quality of human life. Justice . . . peace . . . freedom
. . . the alleviation of suffering. . . . I see it like this:
all are of an equal nature.
class is over, Carter takes his leave with quintessential Southern
graciousness. Thank you, he tells the students,
and adds, without a trace of irony: You have really inspired
me this afternoon.
came home to Plains, Georgia, after being defeated for a second
term in 1980, his future was uncertain. As
he began to look to his post-presidential years, he was invited
to partner with a number of institutions, including several
universities and the University System of Georgia.
met with Dr. Laney, and I finally decided that I would rather
go to a private institution, Carter told Emory Magazine.
I wanted the unrestricted ability to speak to the students
in a very frank and unrestrained way on controversial issues
of the times, and I felt Emory would give me that opportunity.
Since I have been a professor at Emory, I have always been able,
in class and lecture halls and town meetings, to speak without
also was drawn to Emory because the institution had world-class
ambition, yet was firmly planted in the soil of his homeland,
in the fertile region whose culture, religion, politics, social
structure, and agriculture shaped his identity from boyhood.
was always heavily affected in my attitude toward politics by
the realization that I was the first president from the South
since James K. Polk, Carter says. It was a wonderful
blessing for me, but also something of an obligation not to
betray that confidence, to represent the region positively and
accurately. . . . I think the basic philosophy of Emory, the
basic character, I consider to be Southern, while at the same
time competing very well on a national and international basis
in research and quality.
same year Carter became University Distinguished Professor,
he created the Carter Center in partnership with Emory. At Laneys
suggestion, an office on the tenth floor of the Woodruff Library
became the centers first home, and its presence brought
an air of excitement and prestige to the campus.
knew that the center would be unique, because it was to be a
partnership between a former U.S. president with enormous energy
and a university on the rise, and nothing like that had ever
been tried before, says Steve Hochman, now director of
research for the center, who was one of the first three staff
members assisting Carter in the library office. However,
no one imagined exactly how the Carter Center would develop.
the beginning, Carters vision for the center was focused
on action. He also stipulated that the center would not duplicate
the efforts of others but direct its resources toward needs
not already being met.
Carter wanted Emory faculty to participate in action-oriented
programs, says Kenneth W. Stein, William Schatten Professor
of Middle Eastern and Israeli Studies and the centers
Middle East fellow since 1986. He was not interested in
programs where wed have a conference, write a book, and
it would end up on a library shelf.
partnering with Emory, Carter had secured for the center a stable
of experts in almost all imaginable aspects of world politics
and health care, many of them scholars who were eager to venture
out of the classroom to the farthest-flung African villages
or the enclaves of Middle East governance to wield their knowledge
for practical good. Like Stein, the earliest Carter Center fellows
were Emory faculty members who served joint appointments, their
dual roles informing and enriching one another. The growing
relationship between the institutions was both organic and symbiotic.
the Carter Center evolved from the original concept of just
conflict resolution to a wider range of programs involving health
care and agriculture and democratization, Carter says,
we saw the advantages of bringing in experts on these
particular subjects, and it was a natural development to have
them be jointly employed by the Carter Center and Emory. Its
been very advantageous for us over the years. There were times
when almost all our fellows were Emory professors, but nowadays
the Carter Center work is so extensive and challenging that
the fellows have to concentrate mainly on their work at the
1982, Stein was recruited to serve on a committee that helped
outline the mission and structure of the Carter Center. At a
planning retreat on the Georgia coast that included an array
of top advisers from the Carter administration, Stein had a
rare opportunity to sit by the ocean with the former president
and discuss the Middle East and the Camp David Accords for several
hours. It was an extraordinary, life-changing experience for
Stein, a conversation which would later be the springboard for
his book Heroic Diplomacy. On the plane home, Stein says, Emory
President Jim Laney, who holds a degree in theology, commented
on Steins intense talk with Carter. Stein says he asked
Laney, Can you imagine what it would have been like for
you to have interviewed Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John?
Laney raised an eyebrow and said, It was that good?
And Stein replied without hesitation: It was that good.
was one of many in the Emory community caught up by Carters
ambition, influence, and can-do optimism. There was a
lot of energy and excitement in the air, says Sam Nunn
Professor of Law Harold J. Berman, who was named Carter Center
fellow of Russian law in 1985. We had fellows meetings
where we discussed not only the future of the Carter Center,
but the future of humankind. Jimmy Carter was terrific in those
sessions. He ran those meetings with great dignity, imagination,
the Carter Center facility opened in 1986, its major conferences,
or consultations, as Carter dubbed them, were hosted at Emory.
The first, in 1983, was a consultation among international leaders
on the Middle East, directed by Stein, with former President
Gerald Ford joining Carter as co-chair. It quickly became apparent
how powerful the Carter Center could be, with a former president
leading the charge; it also became clear that Emory would benefit
we found ourselves associated with President Carter, Stein
says, we were suddenly in an environment where he could
call upon virtually any person in the world and ask them for
advice, or ask anyone to confer with him at the Carter Center.
After trips [to the Middle East] with the Carters, I could come
back to my classes and say, Three weeks ago I said this,
and then last night, in a private conversation between Carter
and the president of Jordan, this happened. There was
not a single year when my exposure [to the center] did not make
a difference in what I could bring to my students.
1986, the Carter Center, housed alongside the Carter Presidential
Library in a cluster of contemporary buildings and gardens located
between Emory and downtown Atlanta, was dedicated with a gathering
of dignitaries including President Ronald Reagan. In the ensuing
years, as the centers resources, staff, funding, and international
reputation have risen and its peace and health programs both
expanded and become more clearly defined, Carter has continued
to look to Emory fellows to shape its mission and guide its
work; the connection between the institutions is evolving still.
Joseph, Asa Griggs Candler professor of political science, joined
the Carter Center in 1988 as fellow for African studies to lead
much of the centers extensive efforts in Africa. Robert
Pastor, formerly President Carters national security adviser
for Latin America, became a fellow for Latin American affairs
and Emory professor of political science.
Mickiewicz, then dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences,
also served as a fellow for the Commission on Radio and Television.
She and Carter sponsored a program to help encourage free press
in the Soviet Union in which they monitored Soviet telecasts
through antennas atop two Emory buildings.
William Foege, University Presidential Distinguished Professor
of International Health, served as executive director of the
Carter Center from 1986 until 1992. Foege, whom Carter describes
as one of my personal heroes, previously had been
director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
was the first director of the Carter Centers international
health programs. More than any other, Foeges vision and
expertise shaped the Carter Centers global health programs,
guiding them to identify the greatest needs and meet them most
Joyce Murray, professor of adult and elder health at the Nell
Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, spends forty percent of
her time working for the Carter Center and sixty percent for
Emory. Murray recently was named director of the Centers
Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative, an interdisciplinary
teacher education program designed to give health professionals
the tools needed to address care shortages.
Richards, associate clinical professor of pediatric infectious
disease at the medical school and an adjunct faculty member
in the school of public health, spends most of his time directing
the Carter Centers river blindness programs. Although
he doesnt teach full time, he depends on Emory students
to help with his research and analysis. They, in turn, learn
how their public health education can be put to work.
particular, the ties between the Carter Center and the Rollins
School of Public Health are growing stronger. Rosalynn Carter,
long an advocate for better treatment and prevention of mental
illness, has worked with Emorys public health programs
to incorporate mental health into the curricula. In 1998, she
established the Rosalynn Carter Endowed Chair in Mental Health.
of the main things that the Carter Center has tried to initiate
has been the formation and expansion of the school of public
health to deal with issues that we address, Carter says.
three people in an
office at the top of Emorys Woodruff Library, Carter has
grown his idea into an internationally known and respected organization
with a staff of 150, an annual budget of $35 million, and active
programs all over the world. After twenty years, the centers
momentum is unstoppable.
Carter Center has built a reputation of integrity, of benevolence
and care, Carter says. My personal role and that
of Rosalynn is dropping off precipitously.
as Carter continues to craft his legacy, it is clear that its
impact can never be fully measured. But at least part of his
achievement lies in those Emory scholars and students whom he
has taught, inspired, and beckoned to service.
interns, who formed one of the earliest ties between Emory and
the Carter Center, remain one of the strongest. The center recruits
ten to twelve upperclassmen each semester, says Pete Mather,
director of educational programs, and directors rely on them
to keep tabs on political situations around the world and conduct
research critical to the centers mission.
University senior and Woodruff scholar Robert Schwartz, his
internship altered the course of his studies and his future.
Schwartz became interested in the Carter Center after getting
an autograph from the former president during his freshman year.
Now he plans to write his thesis on free trade in the Americas,
based on knowledge he gained at the Carter Center.
I have learned at Emory, I am now applying at the Carter Center,
said Schwartz, in a recent speech to the Emory Board of Trustees.
I write biweekly updates for President Carter on Cuba,
and I am in the process of preparing a report on the electoral
situation in Argentina for Dr. [Shelley] McConnell. In turn,
the Carter Center has given me amazing opportunities. I have
been able to attend the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Negotiations,
and . . . I gave input on President Carters Open
Letter of Invitation to the Americas, which [Atlanta]
Mayor [Shirley] Franklin read in Quito. Dr. McConnell actually
listened to my advice, and I was so proud to see the results
of our conversation not only in the Associated Press, but also
on the front page of the Emory Wheel.
truly have made a difference, at Emory, at the Carter Center,
and in the world.