December 1, 2003

Open letter

To the Emory community:

Together we have done it. At least I hope that, after reading the Emory University Vision Statement, you will agree that our community has crafted a way of stating, for now, our shared, compelling vision for Emory.

Some 40 persons availed themselves of our website to comment publicly; dozens more
sent personal e-mails and memoranda to me and to members of the President’s Cabinet. Many others commented in person and in group discussions. Suggestions, guidance, revisions, bumper stickers, tag lines and lists of priorities came from students, faculty members, staff members, alumni and trustees.

Departments, councils and advisory bodies took seriously the charge to discuss the statement and send in their critiques. These groups ranged from the directors of the University libraries to the faculty of Oxford College, from the Department of Sociology to the Student Government Association, and from the President’s Commission on the Status of Women to the President’s Advisory Council.
Comments ranged from the grammatical to the rhetorical and from the sublime to the pithy. Some urged simplicity, and others encouraged high eloquence. Some created laundry lists, and others abhorred the piling up of words. Some wanted to fatten things here and there, and others recommended cuts so deep that there was sometimes not even meat left on the bone. Everyone, however, responded positively to the admonition to create, not just to critique.

On Nov. 5, after having the chance to digest and mull over your suggestions for a week, the deans of the schools, the cabinet officers and I met for an entire day of refining the Vision Statement further, in light of your good thoughts. And we did take into account every word we received by way of suggestion, admonition, request or plea.

What comes next? Already the Board of Trustees, which met on Nov. 13, has engaged in a half-day of thorough discussion to begin to align their work with making the vision for Emory a reality. In the coming months, with the support of cabinet officers and anticipating the appointment of a new provost and a new senior vice president for Institutional Advancement, the University will begin the process of
developing a strategic plan and laying the groundwork for a comprehensive campaign.

Collectively we have a great deal of work ahead of us. But if your participation in the crafting of this Vision Statement is any indication, there will be many hands and many good minds working together to bring the vision to fruition. I trust that you are as excited as I am about the prospects before us.


Jim Wagner
Emory University