January 20, 2004

Open letter

Dear Emory community:
The beginning of a new year provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the past and consider possibilities for the future. Since my history as a member of this community is brief, my reflections must be, consequently, short. Yet, in looking back over the last four months, I am filled with a sense of appreciation. I am thankful for the welcoming spirit you have expressed to me and to my family; for the openness you have shown to new ideas; for the patience you have exhibited while I, the new kid on the block, have worked to come up to speed; and for the sense of eagerness you have shown as we dream together about Emory’s future. I am even thankful for the difficult conversations in recent months that have summoned us to invest more attention and energy in shaping our practice of living together in community.

On a personal note, I can tell you that Emory quickly has come to feel like home to me. In December, a colleague asked if I were returning home to Cleveland for the holidays. I was somewhat surprised to hear myself respond that I would indeed head to Cleveland during the break, but that in doing so, I would not be going home but leaving home––my new home, Emory and Atlanta.

Over the past months, we have invested much time and energy in thinking about our future together and crafting our Vision Statement. This exciting and challenging piece of prose articulates some of the fundamental values and principles that inform our daily decisions and assist us in policy making. It is the foundation for the very early stages of our strategic planning, an effort that lies in our immediate future. Both the Vision Statement and the strategic plan will guide us as we undertake a comprehensive financial campaign, and as we work to build new partnerships and strengthen existing ones. And it is our new Vision Statement that directs us in current searches for a provost and for a new vice president for Institutional Advancement.

Time spent reflecting on the past and planning for the future must not cloud our enjoyment of the present. We have much to celebrate about our current circumstances. After all, our eagerness for the future need not imply an unhealthy discontent with the present. As we travel together in the days ahead, we do so with certain knowledge, strong resolve and an appropriate level of confidence that who we are today makes it possible to become who we must be tomorrow.

We can be justifiably proud of our commitment to a life of the mind and our academic prowess; of the brilliance of our researchers and the strength of our research infrastructure; of the effectiveness and leadership that we show in health care; of the value that we assign to things spiritual and ethical; of our capabilities and achievements in athletic competition; of our commitment to being in community today, even as we work toward practicing better community tomorrow; and of generous support from friends of the University and neighbors in this vibrant city.

Indeed, it is owing to this abundance that our vision calls us from one level of greatness to the next. We must be committed, as a University community connected in mind and heart, to answer that call. Thus committed, let us work to expand our recognition by others as a stellar institution, and to share with those we meet professionally and socially the great strengths that Emory employs, along with our
determination to add to those strengths for the good of all.

With very best wishes for the new year together, I am,


Sincerely yours,
Jim Wagner
Emory University