January 31, 2000
Volume 52, No. 19
Emory celebrates with Charter Day
By Eric Rangus
Emory's "newest, old tradition" was celebrated once again as more than 300 students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered in the Cox Hall ballroom Jan. 24 to celebrate Charter Day.
That's how President Bill Chace described the gathering, which he revived in 1999 after a 33-year absence from the University calendar.
"It's unthinkable now not to have a Charter Day," he said. For a generation, however, that was exactly the case.
The charter to establish Emory University was signed on Jan. 25, 1925, and nine years later, on Jan. 25, 1934, the first Charter Day celebration was held. The tradition continued until 1966 but then disappeared-until president Chace reinstated it. The banquet capped a day-long celebration that also included performances by student improv and musical groups, and a birthday cake at the Dobbs Center.
Traditions and their ironic nature formed the backbone of Chace's address.
"Tradition is a very vexed and knotted thing," Chace said. "It sounds magically good but creates division and ill feeling."
He discussed the nature of Eléonore Raoul's application to the University in 1917, which she filled out while Bishop Warren Candler-a notorious opponent of co-education-was out of town. Raoul was the first woman to attend Emory, breaking the traditional gender line at the University. Another double-edged tradition Chace listed was the flying of the Confederate battle flag.
Chace's speech followed a full program that included words from Gary Hauk, secretary of the University, remarks from alumnus John Stephen-son and student Tito Jackson, and an invocation by Susan Henry-Crowe, dean of the chapel and religious life.
During his five minutes at the podium, Stephenson listed off 25 different signposts from Emory's history, ranging from the University's first Ph.D. recipient, to the visit of former Israeli leader Golda Meir visiting campus, to Emory being a charter member of a new intercollegiate athletic conference. He asked the attendees to look at each event from the perspective of a student, alumnus, faculty member and trustee, and ponder the different reactions of each.
"Emory is a place of ideas, a gathering place, a nervous place," Stephenson said. "It's a place that is most satisfied when it is restless."
Jackson, a senior, got everyone on their feet to recite The Emory Pledge, which he wrote with the idea of uniting the entire Emory community.
"This is an outstanding event," said junior Aaron Kline, chief financial officer of the Student Government Association. "It blends culture, tradition and history. The organizers did an outstanding job."
No Strings Attached, Emory's all-male a cappella group, performed two
songs, including Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," which earned
them a standing ovation. They also led the ballroom in a candlelight singing
of the alma mater.