January 29 , 2007
by Hal Jacobs
When the time came for Gina Atwater (C’06) to choose a college, she decided to follow her father’s advice. She chose a college that would offer her a scholarship so that she would be able to join clubs and activities without worrying about holding down part-time jobs to pay her tuition.
And what did Emory get in return? A campus leader who, among other things, won the English Department’s annual undergraduate essay contest and founded a women’s retreat that may become an Emory tradition.
“She’s one of those students who makes any class better simply by showing up,” said Lynna Williams, an associate professor of English and creative writing who was also Atwater’s major adviser. “She’s genuinely interested in learning, and in the people and world around her.”
Atwater’s decision to attend Emory College hinged on a scholarship. To attract other talented students like Atwater, the College has begun to increase the number of both merit- and need-based scholarships to encourage students from all geographic and economic backgrounds to attend Emory. Once these students arrive, the College plans to ensure their success by offering more learning programs and undergraduate research activities, as well as by rewarding high-quality work and service with continuing scholarships.
Providing scholarships, however, is only one aspect of the College’s plans to strengthen its investment in teaching and research. The College expects to hire 100 new faculty members in the coming years, providing greater opportunities for students to work closely with their professors. Already the College has increased its faculty by 33, including two endowed positions.
Expanding the faculty provides greater diversity in both instruction and research, particularly when the faculty collaborates across disciplines. The College encourages such cross-disciplinary efforts and has developed plans for a “science plaza” that will include a new psychology building with an fMRI facility and additional research space for chemistry.
“Future scientists will have to collaborate to solve problems that have no geographical boundaries — the greenhouse effect, genetically modified foods, arsenic in groundwater, and so forth. To succeed and lead, our scientists need to understand different cultures and communicate across cultural boundaries with respect and tolerance,” said Preetha Ram, the College’s assistant dean for science.
To help students bridge cultural divides, the College sponsors a variety of study abroad options that provide opportunity for research and outreach, including Emory’s Science Experience Abroad program. The program was recently recognized by the Institute of International Educators and will receive the 2007 Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovations in International Education.
The College also has intensified interdisciplinary inquiry in instruction and research. The Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry has been recognized nationally for its work in connecting disciplines through the humanities. Last year, the National Endowment for the Humanities gave the Center a $500,000 challenge grant — its only grant to a U.S humanities center. Building on its NEH support, the CHI plans to launch a series of Great Works seminars to connect humanists on campus with the extended Emory family.
The theme “African America and the African Diaspora” also engages scholars across disciplines and in the wider community in questions that involve the human condition. The College likewise supports the Transforming Community Project and participates in the Creativity and the Arts projects.
The College also has taken measures to ensure that faculty and students become fully engaged in the community. The College received $2 million in strategic plan funding for the Office of University-Community Partnerships to expand and strengthen community engagement activities across the University. The Center for Science Education continues to thrive and receives external funding for pre-college science programs in the Atlanta area.