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January 31 , 2005
Spirit of Emory alive and well at annual Charter Banquet
BY Michael Terrazas
Just before a packed crowd in Cox Hall's ballroom wished Emory a happy birthday by singing the University's alma mater, champagne glasses clinked together around the darkened room, lit chiefly by the candles each celebrant held aloft. "That's a great sound," President Jim Wagner said, and the song began.
Though the annual Charter Banquet, held Jan. 24, was billed as a 90 th birthday party, Wagner reminded the crowd that this year marks the 90 th anniversary only of Emory's chartering as a University. In reality, he said, Emory turns 169 in 2005.
"Really we are here to celebrate the spirit of Emory, and I don't just mean Dooley," Wagner said, referring to the immortal spirit who appeared briefly at the beginning of the program. "Let's not let our striving [to improve] keep us from celebrating on evenings such as this."
The crowd took Wagner's advice, enjoying dinner and a performance by The Gathering, Emory's all-female a cappella group. College senior Justin Mahida served as master of ceremonies, and fellow senior Azurii Collier delivered an address that explored the different ways Emory has prepared her for "quality lifemanship" as she approaches graduation.
Collier spoke of the support she received following the suicide of her freshman-year roommate; the experience prompted her to get involved with campus organizations such as Residence Life (she became a sophomore adviser and later a residential adviser), the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services and several other groups.
"I stand before you as a student touched by [Emory's] legacy," Collier said. "We all move that legacy forward."
The banquet was one of the first events in the weeklong Charter Celebration. Before last year, the banquet was the only event celebrating Jan. 25, 1915, when Emory received its charter from DeKalb County. Now the celebration stretches more than a week and encompasses many lectures, public discussions, artistic performances and athletic events.
Mahida paid tribute to Bill Fox, recently retired as senior vice president emeritus and the longtime head of what then was known as the Institutional Advancement division. Fox, along with former President Bill Chace and the D.V.S. senior honor society, helped re-establish the Charter Day celebration in 1999 after it had been dormant for some 33 years.
Appearing with his trademark entourage, Dooley summed up the banquet and entire Charter Celebration best when his spokesperson read, "The definition of Emory is sitting right next to you. We are here to celebrate each other, and to celebrate together."