Interim Provost Woody Hunter announced recently
that he will step down from his position effective Sept. 1, co-terminus
with the presidency of Bill Chace.
Hunter has served as interim provost since July 1, 2001, following
the departure of former provost Rebecca Chopp. A few months earlier,
when Chopp announced she was leaving Emory to become dean of Yale
Divinity School, Hunter had just made public his plans to step down
after 12 years as dean of the law school.
But when Chace asked him to serve a one- or possibly two-year term
as interim provost, Hunter not only agreed but in fact will have
extended that commitment by two months when he leaves the position
next weekend. Hunter will take a sabbatical to pursue projects he
said he has kept “on hold” for the past two years.
“As I have said many times, [the interim provostship] is perhaps
the best job I ever have had,” Hunter wrote in a letter to
Chace and President-designate Jim Wagner to inform them of his decision.
“Emory is a fascinating institution, and serving as interim
provost has provided me with the chance to learn much more about
all the work that is going on here and to make many new friends
across the campus.”
Hunter served as Emory’s chief academic officer during a time
of fiscal constraint that followed years, even decades, of increasing
revenues. As chair of the University’s Ways and Means Committee,
he oversaw a cost containment and reduction exercise that resulted
in a balanced budget for fiscal year 2004 despite severe reductions
in endowment income due to the slumping stock market.
Hunter pointed to a number of faculty and senior administrative
appointments as the accomplishments of which he is most proud during
his time in the provost’s office, and he also cited acquisitions
made by Special Collections in Woodruff Library. Particularly, the
acquisition of African American materials, combined with the appointments
of scholars of African American arts and letters, have made Emory
a leading center for related areas of study and for study of the
civil rights movement.
“I received Woody’s announcement with regret, because
he has manifested seasoned ability, a clear head and a deep commitment
to Emory during his two years in the provost’s office,”
Chace said. “His understanding of the nature and distinctiveness
of this University has enabled us to continue moving forward with
purpose, and I’m immensely grateful for his service.”
“For 27 years I have been a member of the Emory faculty, and
for more than half that time I have served in a senior administrative
position,” Hunter wrote. “The development of Emory has
been remarkable during that time, and I am pleased to have been
part of the University leadership during this period of enormous
“Woody Hunter has been a true University citizen,” said
Michael Johns, executive vice president for Health Affairs. “In
a time of transition, he really stepped up to the plate and filled
a critical gap. I found him to be a great partner.”
With his decision, Hunter has presented Wagner with one of the first
major tasks of his new presidency: finding an acting provost and
then launching a search for a permanent one.
“Emory owes a real debt of gratitude to Woody for his service,”
Wagner said. “As for the future, we will seek the advice of
the President’s Advisory Committee, of the Council of Deans
and of the executive leadership of the University in formulating
as soon as possible a plan to go forward.”