Emory President William M. Chace has announced that he will retire at the end of this academic year. After a year’s sabbatical, he intends to return to teaching at Emory.

“I will have served as a president for fifteen years, first at Wesleyan University and then, for nine years, at Emory,” Chace says. “Those years have brought deeply rewarding intellectual challenges and wonderful collegial friendships. . . . But it is time for me to resume, while I can, the career that attracted me to the academy in the first place—the life of teaching and scholarship.”

Chace became Emory’s eighteenth president in July 1994. It was a time of plenty; the University was expanding in every way—endowment, prestige, facilities, and faculty.

“There is a feast at this table,” Chace said in his inaugural address. “Be reminded of our shared good fortune: we at Emory are strong, we still are young, we are not poor.”

Over the next eight years, Emory would undertake $1 billion in new construction, including the Goizueta Business School, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff Nursing School, the Whitehead Biomedical Research Building, the Emerson Hall physical sciences building, the Vaccine Research Center, the Mathematics and Science Center, and the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. 

But even as new buildings proliferated, Chace developed a campus master plan in 1997 that encouraged environmental sensitivity, created pedestrian areas, and cut the number of cars on campus. “We know we must protect the green and open spaces we still are lucky to have,” said Chace, who claims Emory’s walking campus as one of his proudest accomplishments.

Competitive research facilities, a growing reputation, and an emphasis on recruitment attracted top-level faculty to Emory, who brought staff and research grants. During Chace’s presidency, sponsored research more than doubled, from $118 million to $277 million.

Emory was admitted to the Association of American Universities in 1995, a prestigious group of the nation’s top research universities, and hosted the AAU annual presidents’ meeting last year.

Emory Board Chairman Ben F. Johnson III ’65C, a managing partner of the Atlanta law firm Alston and Bird who is heading the search committee to find Chace’s replacement, said the leadership of Chace and his wife, JoAn, has “taken the University to a higher plane. . . . While we prepare for a period of leadership transition, we also will be honoring and celebrating this very rich legacy.”

A noted scholar whose speeches are often marked by poetic turns of phrase and literary quotations, Chace taught English for twenty years at Stanford University. He became associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford in 1981 and vice provost for academic planning and development in 1985.

While serving as Emory’s president, Chace also was a tenured professor in the English department, teaching courses on James Joyce, Shakespeare, Melville, Irish literature, and modern fiction and nonfiction. He is the author of two books, The Political Identities of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot and Lionel Trilling: Criticism and Politics.

Chace will remain as president until his successor is seated. “I look forward to exercising more fully the habits of mind that shape the life of the scholar and teacher,” he said. “Habits I once had learned by heart but now must fashion anew.”—M.J.L.

An in-depth profile of William M. Chace and his tenure as Emory’s president will appear in the Summer 2003 issue of Emory Magazine.

Other Précis articles:

A return to scholarship

End of an era

• Triumph of imagination

• A not-so-modest proposal

• Seeing with new eyes

• Faculty author resigns

• Way cool

• SAT prep made easy

• Remembering Michael C. Carlos

• Remembering Sanford S. Atwood

• Henry who?

• Awakening the demon

• Bringing science to life





© 2003 Emory University