April 7, 2003

ILA taking time to celebrate 50 years

By Eric Rangus

The humble beginnings of the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts in 1952 and the half-century of growth since its inception will be commemorated April 11–13, as the ILA toasts its 50th anniversary with a celebration featuring a variety of panel and roundtable discussions, receptions and get-togethers.

Many ILA graduates are returning to campus to attend (and, in some cases, present), and several graduates on the Emory faculty and staff will be mixed in as well.

‘We see this as an opportunity to call attention to the subject of interdisciplinarity. We want to bring it back into people’s consciousness,” said Jean Wynn, undergraduate secretary in ILA and one of the conference organizers. She came to the ILA last fall, along with current Director Walt Reed, professor of English. Work on the celebration began in October, shortly after their arrival.

“It isn’t a strange word anymore, but it’s interesting to consider what had happened to interdisciplinary work in the past few years,” she continued.

At 50 years of age, Emory’s ILA is one of the oldest interdisciplinary programs in the country. At the time of its founding, very few institutions could boast of an entity that opened up cross-discipline conversations and research in the social sciences and humanities—the kind the institute practices to this day.

The weekend’s three colloquiums will explore the African American experience, ILA in academic administration, and the future of ILA (titled “Looking Ahead: Where We Are Going”). As a thematic bookend, the conference’s opening plenary, “Looking Back: Where We Have Been” will be an overview of ILA’s history, followed by a cocktail reception in Woodruff Library’s Jones Room.

On Saturday afternoon, four roundtable discussions (on American studies, religion and literature, women’s studies, and public scholarship) will take place in the Callaway Center. Colloquiums are scheduled before and after the roundtables.

Panel presenters will include current ILA students and professors; ILA graduates, some of whom have faculty positions at other institutions; and ILA graduates who are part of the Emory community, such as Oxford College Dean and CEO Dana Greene (’71G), Emory College Senior Associate Dean Rosemary Magee (’82G); Alice Benston, associate professor of theater studies (’62G); Virginia Shadron (’91G), director of special projects in the graduate school; and Assistant Vice Provost Kim Loudermilk (’97G).

Spelman College English and women’s studies Professor Gloria Wade-Gayles (’81G) will deliver the keynote address during the conference banquet at 7 p.m. on April 12. The banquet also will feature a performance by Resonance, a Spelman verse choir.

The celebration is free for Emory faculty, staff and students. For others, registration is $20. A full conference schedule, as well as a detailed history of ILA, can be found at www.emory.edu/COLLEGE/ILA.

For more information, contact Wynn at 404-727-7601.