May 27, 2008
Magee honor exemplifies her Jeffersonian qualities
BY Eric Rangus
Rosemary Magee ’82 PhD has experienced the Emory community as a student, alumna, staff member, faculty member, and now as an administrator. Among other things, she helped build Emory’s summer study abroad program, spearheaded the construction of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, and for the last four years has served as secretary of the University. She has given a great deal to Emory — and that generous attitude of service hasn’t stopped with her receipt of the 2008 Thomas Jefferson Award.
“I have had the full Emory experience,” said Magee, “I’ve had the pleasure of working at Emory, but I’ve also had the opportunity to reinvent myself as the institution has shaped itself.”
The Jefferson Award is given each year to a faculty member or administrator in appreciation for significant service through personal activities, influence and leadership. The personal and professional qualities of the recipient resemble those Jefferson would have considered essential to the intellectual, social and political advancement of a society.
“Everything that I’ve been able to contribute to this institution has also substantially enriched my life,” Magee said. “I’m really standing on the shoulders of so many friends, colleagues and collaborators. This award represents their work and their contributions as well.”
Two of those friends are Robbie Brown ’07C and Rachel Zelkowitz ’08C, both of whom Magee describes as “her role models.” In more ways than one.
Brown and Zelkowitz are both winners of the Lucius Lamar McMullan Award, a student leadership and citizenship honor that carries with it a $25,000 no-strings-attached gift. Brown selflessly donated his entire award to an orphanage in India started by his classmate Elizabeth Sholtys ’07C. Zelkowitz, too, is donating a portion of her award to the Emory Counseling Center.
The students’ generosity — and example — moved Magee to donate part of her cash award to help fund the Emory Alumni Board Leadership Scholarship, a new alumni-driven campaign to assist leading students who also show financial need.
“Rachel was one of the first people I told [about receiving the Jefferson],” Magee said. The two have been friends since Zelkowitz profiled Magee for The Emory Wheel, where she was a staff member. Brown had been a student in one of her classes and, just before his graduation, he asked Magee to attend the Emory Scholars brunch as his “most influential teacher.”
“We discussed doing something symbolic,” Magee said, recalling her conversation with Zelkowitz. “And we wanted to honor Robbie’s generous spirit. One of the great things about this University is that everyone can be a teacher and everyone can be a student.”
Magee said she will use the remainder of her Jefferson monetary award to help cover costs while serving as an artist-in-residence at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland.
Magee is the second consecutive alumna to receive the Jefferson Award. In 2007, the Jefferson went to Melissa Maxcy Wade ’72C-’76G-’96T-’00T, director of the Barkley Forum.
After earning her doctorate from Emory’s Institute of Liberal Arts, Magee began a steady climb up the administrative ladder culminating in her 2004 promotion to vice president and secretary of the University.