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April 23, 2001

Emerson Hall makes grand debut at Emory

By Eric Rangus


One Emory’s most generous benefactors, Cherry Logan Emerson, was on hand April 17 for the dedication of the building that bears his name—and to usher in a new era in science education at the University.

The official debut of Emerson Hall drew a standing-room-only crowd to the patio between Emerson and the Atwood Chemistry Center. Several dozen spectators spilled out beyond the tent, not only because it was tough to find space underneath, but it provided some sunlight on an unseasonably chilly day.

“I know that scientists tell you that 70 percent of heat loss is through your head,” Emerson joked as he donned a hat, eliciting a chuckle from the crowd. Emerson took the podium to cap a list of speakers that included President Bill Chace, Senior Associate Dean of Emory College Rosemary Magee and chemistry Professor David Goldsmith.

Ben Johnson, chair of the Board of Trustees, presided over the 45-minute event, and Susan Henry-Crowe, Dean of the Chapel and Religious Life, gave the invocation. All speakers took part in the ribbon-cutting that officially closed the dedication and opened the doors of the University’s newest facility.

“I can’t imagine a better chemistry laboratory than that building today,” said Emerson, who toured the facility for the first time earlier in the morning. “Today, that laboratory is the best chemistry research laboratory in the world.”

If anyone would know about the quality of a chem lab, it would be Emerson. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in organic chemistry from Emory in 1938 and 1939, respectively, worked for Monsanto Chemical Co. for seven years, then ran his own chemical company until his retirement in 1978. He earned an honorary degree in 1994.

His establishment of the Cherry Emerson Lecture Series in the chemistry department in the late 1980s was his first major gift to Emory.

“I cannot measure the impact of Cherry Emerson upon Emory,” said President Bill Chace. “Let this magnificent building be his monument and our tribute to his extraordinary solicitude for his alma mater. We bask in the glow of your benevolence.”

In addition to the lecture series, Emerson funds chaired professorships in chemistry and music the Center for Compu-tational Science (now housed in Emerson Hall), and the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta.

Five stories tall, Emerson Hall encompasses nearly 70,000 square feet of classroom and research space. Ground broke on the $25 million project—phase I of the University’s Science 2000 initiative—on May 13, 1999. It will house the Emerson Center for Scientific Computing, a nuclear magnetic resonance laboratory, the integrated microscopy and microanalytical facility, and the physical sciences library. It also will provide, classroom, research and office space.

Construction began on Phase II of Science 2000 late last year. That building, located across Dickey Drive, will be completed in 2002 and will provide 164,000 more square feet of scientific research and class space.

“For Emory College and the arts and sciences to excel in research and teaching, we have needed expanded facilities, equipment research laboratories and teaching spaces,” said Magee, who chairs the planning committee for the Physical Sciences Center, which encompasses both phases of Science 2000.

“But for us to be able to embark on such an endeavor, we also needed energy, imagination and resources,” she continued. “What a new facility like this represents is the power of imagination, especially when coupled with facts, generosity and hard work.”

It was apparent that Emerson was proud of the building that will serve as his most visible legacy at his alma mater. And he had his eyes transfixed on the future it may provide.

“It will be useful in bringing new faculty and new students in a way that will be a real blessing to Emory University,” he said. “Don’t forget about Science 3000. I won’t be there, but Emory will be. This is a step toward that. I predict that the quality of science education at Emory will be raised quite a bit by Science 2000.”



Back to Emory Report April 23, 2001