Inauguration Week Preview

Wagner encourages all to 'Celebrate Emory'

By Michael Terrazas

On Friday, April 2, Emory will inaugurate James W. “Jim” Wagner as its 19th president in a ceremony to be held at 2:30 p.m. on the Quadrangle. A full week of activities will lead up to the main event, and this special pullout edition of Emory Report is dedicated to previewing the panoply of events—academic, artistic, athletic, even celestial—that constitute Emory’s Inauguration Celebration.

Since he took office Sept. 1, 2003, Wagner repeatedly has said that he wanted his inauguration to be a celebration for the entire University, and the event’s theme, “Celebrate Emory,” reflects that wish. From an all-day arts festival to a symposium on ethics in the professions, to a torch relay from Oxford to Atlanta, to the week-ending Campus Jubilee on McDonough Field, all of Emory will participate in the literal and ceremonial launching of a new era at the University.

“Happily, the delay between my appointment and the inauguration has allowed a process to play out through which the Emory community has articulated a clearer vision of where it strives to go and where it strives to be,” Wagner said. “Consequently, this event can be a rededication to Emory’s future—moving toward that vision, built upon the strong foundation of its past.

“At the very least,” he continued, “it is a celebration of a smooth transfer of leadership to help enable Emory to continue—even accelerate—along its path to be the best Emory possible.”

Indeed, the University now stands on the cusp of an almost complete transformation in leadership. Provost-designate Earl Lewis, hired away from the University of Michigian where he serves as dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, will join Emory on July 1. Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Mike Mandl began his tenure simultaneously with Wagner, arriving a few months before. And a search is under way to identify a new senior vice president for Institutional Advancement.

This new energy in administration will be at the forefront in guiding Emory through the just-begun Strategic Planning Process and subsequent Comprehensive Campaign. In all, these are heady days for the University.

As for Wagner himself, he continues to deflect the spotlight while acknowledging that the experience of becoming president of Emory is one so exceptional that it defies description.

“It’s difficult to answer with mere words,” he said when asked what it all means for him personally. “There is, of course, a sense of privilege that I feel as a result of being asked to serve such an impressive University as Emory, and that sense of privilege quickly resolves into a strong sense of obligation to serve Emory as best I can.

“But there is no sense at all that I’ve ‘arrived,’ as though this represents some sort of culminating or ending event in my career,” Wagner continued. “Rather there is a feeling that I am being called to begin again—to greater learning and greater service. Pledging, in front of so many witnesses, to commit to those goals will be a profound experience for me. And publicly thanking those who have been and continue to be mentors and friends, as well as those willing to risk their trust in my best efforts, will
be a pleasure.”