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November 18, 2002

Bill Chace to retire from presidency

By Michael Terrazas

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 presidency, including:

• admission to the Association of American Universities in 1995 and hosting one of the organization’s semiannual meetings last month.

• 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 studies programs.

• 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 building practices.

“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 legacy.”

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.”