Emory Report

September 13, 1999

 Volume 52, No. 4

An open letter to the Emory community

Dear Fellow Emory Citizens:

I take great pleasure in sending you my greetings as we enter the 1999-2000 academic year. This has been a remarkable century for Emory, and we have many reasons to celebrate and mark the arrival of the new millenium.

To help us do this, Provost Chopp and several of our deans and faculty colleagues have suggested "reconciliation" as a unifying theme to which we might give special attention in our teaching, service and research programs over the course of the next year or so. When we think about the world surrounding us, "reconciliation" might not be the first thing that comes to mind. "Ethnic cleansing" and nationalistic conflicts, violence in our streets or the persistence of racism and other forms of discrimination and injustice are more likely to be among the first items that confront us. These are, indeed, major unsolved issues to which we should devote our collective attention. I believe that reconciliation can serve as a broad rubric embracing not only these issues but also matters as varied as our own spirituality and beliefs in an era dominated by science and technology, the inequitable distribution of wealth in the world, the challenges of achieving social justice and fairness in a democratic and capitalistic society, and our relationship to the environment. Reconciliation can also evoke more purely academic questions such as how we approach scholarly inquiry and the search for truth, how the various academic disciplines relate to one another and to the lives of our students, and how we understand the nature of the creative process itself.

Reconciliation is thus a theme that can draw us together in our work and thought, and focus our teaching, research and service activities on problems and ideas that are profoundly important and provocative, both intellectually and practically. I am pleased, therefore, to declare the academic year 2000-2001 as "The Year of Reconciliation" at Emory. In the spirit of the themes identified in Choices & Responsibility, I hope the Year of Reconciliation will provide us with many opportunities to explore together the balance between teaching, research and service in the mission of the University, and the relationships among the many disciplines of which we are comprised, and with the larger communities that we serve. I invite each of you, and the groups with which you are affiliated, to explore how this theme might shape the activities in which you are engaged, whether those be course work, public service, scholarly research or extracurricular programs. Likewise, I invite you to think about how your work and imagination may be understood to bring greater richness to the concept of reconciliation.

The centerpiece of the year will be a major symposium on reconciliation, about which you will receive information at a later time. Provost Chopp and I have appointed Chancellor Billy Frye and Professors Robert Agnew, Steve Kraftchick and John Stone to serve as co-chairs of the symposium, and we have established a steering committee and an advisory committee. While their particular responsibility is for the symposium, they have agreed to promote and coordinate other programs and activities related to the theme of reconciliation that I hope will be developed, with your encouragement and participation, across the campus during the course of the year. Some of the possibilities include special courses and seminars; town meetings with major public figures associated with Emory; a special assembly in the series of assemblies sponsored by the Association of Emory Alumni; musical, theatrical and artistic events, and so on. In addition to more purely academic activities, we hope the year might include such events as practical workshops and community projects bearing on the theme of reconciliation.

Please join me in making the "Year of Reconciliation" one in which we are united in the cause of better understanding one another and in bringing our collective knowledge into the service of the global communities with which we are engaged.


William M. Chace

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