September 26 , 2005
The University’s virtually unprecedented rise to prominence in the last quarter-century has resulted in significant strengths on which to build. Even before Robert and George Woodruff’s historic $105 million gift to the University in 1979, Emory had established a long tradition of excellent graduate and undergraduate teaching. But that gift propelled Emory to new heights of research excellence; its $352 million in external research funding in 2004 represents a more-than-fourfold increase from 1990 totals. Buoyed by strong endowment performance, Emory has been able to attract and retain a renowned faculty, which in turn has drawn record numbers of graduate and doctoral students, along with undergraduate applicant pools that continue to grow in size and quality. Finally, one of Emory’s most compelling draws is its location in the vibrant, international city of Atlanta, whose diversity the University has nearly matched; Emory’s faculty, staff and student bodies are among the most racially and religiously diverse in its peer group.
Strong as its advantages are, Emory shares a number of concerns with its peers in an increasingly global and competitive higher-education market: inadequate financial aid across all the University’s schools, resulting in over-dependence on tuition and decreasing socioeconomic diversity; space and infrastructure constraints; and inadequate numbers of faculty and staff. Despite (or, perhaps, because of) its rapid ascension, the Emory most Americans know—and there are many who don’t know us at all—lags behind our reality. Markers of this lag, such as unsatisfactory rates of applicant yield and alumni giving, no doubt will improve in tandem with the University’s reputation.