President Bill Chace announced last Thursday at a meeting of
the Board of Trustees that he is stepping down from the presidency
at the end of this academic year.
The 64-year-old Chace, who has served as University president since
1994, said he will take a year’s sabbatical and then return
to the Emory faculty to teach in the English department.
“By the end of this year, I will have served as a president
for 15 years, first at Wesleyan University and then, for nine years,
at Emory,” Chace said. “Those years have brought deeply
rewarding intellectual challenges and wonderful collegial friendships.
“The presidency of Emory, in particular, has been the source
of great professional satisfaction and personal enjoyment,”
he continued. “For my wife, JoAn, and me, it has been a wonderful
chapter in our life together, one made up of new friendships and
splendid opportunities to learn and to grow. 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.”
While serving as president with a tenured appointment in English,
Chace has taught courses on James Joyce, Shakespeare, Melville and
modern fiction and nonfiction. This semester he is teaching a freshman
seminar on Irish literature and accompanied the class to Ireland
for a week in October.
But it is his accomplishments as Emory’s 18th president for
which Chace’s tenure will most be remembered. He presided
over a period of phenomenal growth for the University, continuing
a trajectory that began more than 20 years ago when Emory received
the $100 million Woodruff gift.
“Emory has been immeasurably blessed by the service of Bill
and JoAn Chace; their leadership has taken the University to a higher
plane,” said Ben Johnson, chair of the Board of Trustees,
who listed a number of hallmarks that occurred during the Chace
• admission to the Association of American Universities in
1995 and hosting one of the organization’s semiannual meetings
• a dramatic increase in sponsored research from $118 million
to $277 million.
• a tremendous expansion of the University’s physical
campus and the development of the Campus Master Plan.
• increased support for the arts, including the groundbreaking
for the soon-to-open Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.
• $1 billion in University fund raising.
• increased international engagement, with large upswings
in international scholars, study abroad participation and international
• sensitivity to the ecology of Emory, including an emphasis
on reducing sources of air pollution, the development of a “walking
campus” aesthetic and a commitment to environmentally sustainable
“All of these are the legacy of Bill and JoAn Chace,”
Johnson said. “While we prepare for a period of leadership
transition, we also will be honoring and celebrating this very rich
Chace’s departure adds to the list of high-level administrators
who have stepped down in the past two years. The position of provost
has been filled in an interim capacity by
Woody Hunter since summer 2001, when former provost Rebecca Chopp
left to become dean of the Yale Divinity School; the Emory College
permanent deanship has likewise been vacant for the same period
of time, with Bobby Paul serving as interim dean since the departure
of Steve Sanderson.
“In the months ahead, Ben Johnson, a devoted Emory alumnus
and a splendid colleague in our work together of behalf of Emory,
will, together with his colleagues, form a search committee and
begin the task of finding Emory’s next president,” Chace
said. “You will be hearing more about this process in the
coming weeks. Mr. Johnson and I have agreed that I will continue
to serve as president until my successor is appointed.”