Before Emory can chart its course for the future,
it first must fix its position on the seas. That is what President
Jim Wagner has been saying since before he took office Sept. 2,
and less than a month into his tenure, Wagner has set about the
task by proposing a vision statement to the University
for consideration and comment.
Posted on its own website (www.admin.emory.edu/Vision/)
that is linked from the internal homepage, the statement is concise:
Emory University: An academic destination and a resource for
changing the world, whose unique blend of intellectual quest and
ethical discourse makes it a leading community for teaching, scholarship
Wagners hope is that five key University constituenciesfaculty,
students, staff, alumni and trusteeswill ponder this working
vision during October and send feedback via an access-controlled
site (respondents must login with their Emory ID and password) available
through the vision statement page. On Nov. 5, Wagner will meet with
the Presidents Cabinet and the Council of Deans to weigh community
reactions and further revise the vision statement.
Individual comments are welcome and encouraged, Emorys new
president said, but even more helpful will be measured and considered
responses from groups such as academic departments or organizations
like the Employee Council or he Student Government Association.
Wagner is encouraging the deans to ask their respective department
chairs to convene faculty meetings to discuss the statement and
write a joint opinion.
We want people to feel free to take it apartbut they
have to put it back together again, Wagner said. We
have to make sure it does two things: That it captures who Emory
is, and that it believably challenges the University about what
it can become.
Community consensus on a vision statement, he added, is a critical
first step to a pair of later, more comprehensive planning efforts:
an open-ended strategic planning process for the entire University,
and a major fund-raising campaign. In public meetings, Wagner has
referred to the vision statement as something nearly brief enough
to be put on bumper stickers or T-shirts; the comparison is somewhat
hyperbolic, he said, but not much.
There are two temptations we have to avoid: First, the temptation
to be too generic, to come up with a statement that could be applied
to any institution, Wagner said. And the second is to
be platitudinous, to produce something that sounds nice but is riven
with unachievable goals.
In the end, the statement has to be something born of the entire
University community. Articulating a clear vision for Emory was
a charge Wagner received from the earliest moments of his candidacy
for the presidency, and he said he is eager to help the University
If we get through this process and people are still calling
it Wagners vision, we will have not yet succeeded,
he said. It must become Emorys vision for itself.