April 7, 2004

Inauguration Greetings

Excerpts from speakers' remarks

Gov. Sonny Perdue
On behalf of the people of Georgia
President Wagner brings to the task of leading Emory an impressive record of scholarship, a passion for higher education, a deep respect for Emory's great heritage, and a strong vision for the future. Part of that vision that especially appeals to me is building new partnerships. From my vantage point, Georgia can only benefit when we build stronger partnerships between our state-funded university system and our outstanding private research universities such as Emory. I'm glad that President Wagner is so personally committed to an idea that, in addition to his day job, he's moonlighting on the faculty of Georgia Tech. Well, technically he's a member of the faculty of the Georgia Tech/Emory Department of Biomedical Engineering, which is getting great acclaims. And which, so far as I know, is the only example in the country of a joint department shared between public and private universities. That is a great example of the kind of partnerships that we want to continue building.

Mayor Shirley Franklin
On behalf of the city of Atlanta
We celebrate the future legacy of James Warren Wagner, one in which Atlanta's premier research university is pushed to even higher levels, a university developing the best and brightest minds of a new generation. We look forward to the university grounded in the principles expounded by our own native son and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when he said, "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character; that is the goal of true education." Dr. Wagner is a man for such a time as this, one who will bring scholarship excellence, intellectual honesty, ethical practice and an appreciation for diversity. We welcome Dr. Wagner into our circle of educators, great educators leading great institutions, and eagerly anticipate the contributions Emory will add to this tradition of excellence under his leadership.

President Jimmy Carter
On behalf of the world in need of courageous leadership
The most sterling treasure the United States of America has is its system of higher education. A few years ago when I hadn't been here as a professor very long, I went on a visit to Africa, and Jim Laney, the [former Emory] president, asked me to come down to New Orleans and give a speech to the assembled presidents of all the universities and colleges in the southeastern part of the United States. So the night before Rosalynn and I left Africa, we happened to have been in Nairobi, Kenya. There was an assembly there of about 50 leaders of those countries, and I asked them, "I want you to tell me what the American universities mean to your country." There was a shocked silence. No one could think of anything. That is the juxtaposition I want to describe to you on behalf of the needy people of the world. And I am deeply grateful we have a president here, Jim Wagner, who has committed himself to use the courageous leadership of this institution to give the [needy people of the world] a better life.

Robert Fannin, '67T, '70T
Bishop, United Methodist Church
On behalf of the church
On Feb. 6, 1736, John Wesley walked ashore in a new colony called Georgia, in the name and honor of King George. From that point on, this fellow of Oxford University and son of a local minister would evolve in his spiritual and academic endeavors and experiences to ultimately become the founder of the great Wesleyan Methodist movement. In 1836, Emory College at Oxford was founded by Georgia Methodists in response to the need for a college based in the faith and committed to excellence. In 1915 it became Emory University, under the guidance of the Methodist Episcopal church, and to this day is still related by charter to the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. We give God the praise and thanksgiving for this great University, and on this day welcome with wide open arms our new president, Dr. James W. Wagner, and his family. Our prayers and support will surround you in your work, President Wagner. Together the joining of heart and mind will bring us, as the Emory community, to places far beyond that which we can even imagine.

Gregory Vaughn, '87C
President, Association of Emory Alumni
On behalf of the alumni
Close to the heart of every Emory alum is the Emory that existed during his or her years on campus. The traditions and experiences shared by alumni with others here helped to form their character and their outlook and gave birth to lifelong friendships and relationships. As we welcome you today, President Wagner, let me assure you that Emory's alumni are forward looking and ready to be full partners in bringing the University to new heights and to achieving our shared vision of Emory as a destination university. Old and young alumni alike believe that Emory, great as it is, has not seen its best days. It is because the Emory of our youth called to our best selves that we want the University to grow. It's because we benefited so much from Emory's tradition of excellence that we look forward to creating new traditions across so many fields of endeavor for students from so many places. As we begin that task together, I welcome you as our new president and as a new friend.

Don Newsome
President, Employee Council
On behalf of the staff
Established in 1970 by University President Sanford Atwood, Employee Council facilitates communication between staff employees and the University administration, and serves as an advisory body to the University president. Already the voice of the Employee Council has been heard in important policy discussions with the new University administration, with good results for issues of importance to staff employees. And while we may not get everything we ask for, we certainly aren't afraid to ask for it. I hope all of us appreciate being a part of this progressive and welcoming community, where everyone is honored and treated equally. Would that all human institutions follow Emory's lead. In closing, we look forward to building on our productive relationship with President Wagner and his administration, and expect great things from them and for Emory University.

Euler Bropleh,
'02Ox, '04C
Past president, Student Government Association
On behalf of the students
Throughout my four years here at this university, I have never seen as much excitement and optimism on this campus as I have viewed in the past seven months since

Dr. Wagner assumed the presidency. While students are impressed with his warmth, humor and affability, President Wagner's collaborative style and willingness to listen and take action when necessary and appropriate are his most notable traits. President Wagner, I recently had a conversation with a friend in which he referred to you as Superman in describing your ability to make a favorable impression on all and appear in various places simultaneously. As our Superman, we expect greatness. Although we, the students, will often tug on your cape and make many requests, we expect you to do the same to us. In order for Emory to become the university that you envision it to be, everyone must do their part. We look to your continued leadership to guide Emory closer to excellence.

John Snarey
President, University Senate
On behalf of the faculty
[President] Wagner is changing the way Emory plays ball, and he's changing the way this ballclub sees itself. How does he go about doing this? Well, he's secure. He has the confidence to open up lines of communication between all segments of the University, and he tries never to give mixed signals. He understands the faculty's aspiration that Emory will become one of the very top universities in the nation. His vision of Emory as a destination university encompasses our aspiration. He understands that we want to beat the Yankees, even if many of us ourselves were once Yankees. Finally, Jim makes it seem so easy. I've seen him work patiently with a group as they vented frustration that had built up over the years, and then immediately walk over to his next appointment and give a rousing speech. In this sense, he embodies Honus Wagner's saying, which I'll paraphrase only slightly, "There ain't much to being a university president--if you're a born university president."

Frank Rhodes
president emeritus, Cornell University
I have been told that university boards of trustees look for a degree of perfection that the English expect to find only in their butlers. In fact, in the 19th century, when Yale was searching for a new president of the university--in those days assumed inevitably to be a man--the chairman of the board of trustees specified the characteristics necessary for the individual who would fill that office. "We were looking," he remarked, "for a man who was a great public speaker and a wonderful writer; for a man who was an experienced administrator yet who had the capacity to delegate; a man of iron stamina and robust good health; a Yale man, and a scholar; a man whose wife was a paragon of virtue, a mix in fact of Queen Victoria, Florence Nightingale and the best dressed woman of the year; a social philosopher who although he had at his fingertips a solution to the world's problems, had still not lost the common touch. But then, a dark thought crossed our minds. We had to ask ourselves, is God a Yale man?"

You already know that Jim Wagner is not a Yale man, and we celebrate that. He comes to the presidency superbly equipped for the challenges that now confront Emory in the years that lie ahead. You have found, in Jim and Debbie Wagner, a remarkable couple, individually immensely talented, and as a couple open, gracious, caring and totally committed. And with their joint leadership, even greater times lie ahead.

It seems to me that the new university of the future, the great university of the future, will be one that is locally rooted but internationally oriented. And how well prepared Emory is for that role. Locally rooted here in the rich soil of Atlanta. Locally rooted here in terms of its commitment to the people and life of Atlanta. Locally rooted in its origins within the Methodist church, but reaching out as it must in these post-9/11 years, to create a new kind of global citizen, conscious of the problems to which President Carter so eloquently referred, and producing dedicated men and women who will challenge and confront those [problems].

In a true sense, every university is a religious community, and today's compact, today's commitment to support and trust and friendship with Jim and Debbie Wagner, not just in the sunshine of April but in the dark days of November, is part of the celebration of today. That compact, that partnership between men and women who love learning and have defended it well, stretches all the way back to Bologna and Paris and Oxford, and links us here today in Oxford, Ga., and Atlanta, with them, across the oceans, across the continents, across the centuries. In the new appointment you have made of Dr. Wagner, you have my warmest congratulations. He carries with him into this heavy responsibility of office the heartfelt good wishes of everyone in this great gathering. May the past success and the great distinction of Emory under his leadership be but a prelude to a greater and even more remarkable future.

--Compiled by Michael Terrazas; all photos by University Photography. The Inauguration Ceremony can be viewed in its entirety at