Emory Report
September 28, 2009
Volume 62, Number 5

State of the
University address


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September 28, 2009
State of the University
Challenges reveal community ‘at our best’


The past year has brought many challenges to the Emory community, from the shaking of the nation’s economic foundations to the impact of a new, worldwide influenza outbreak.

“A review of our year together,” said President Jim Wagner at the 11th annual State of the University address, “shows how as a community we have been at our best at confronting, resolving and rising above these challenges.”

In a time when universities, along with the rest of the country, are facing economic and societal change, Emory leads with a sense of enthusiasm, determination and upward trajectory. “We as a community continue to share a sense that we are going somewhere worthy of our best thinking, our strongest spirit and our enduring determination,” he said.

Wagner outlined notable achievements of each school and unit, ranging from a national recognition as an academic leader amid an explosion of interest in global health, to the distinction of becoming Division III national champs in women’s volleyball, to prominent notice from the White House for Emory’s leadership in community service.

A few highlights:
• Campaign Emory is now closing in on $1 billion of its $1.6 billion fundraising goal, despite launching amid the stock market collapse last September, making Emory the first institution in the state of Georgia to raise that amount in a single campaign.

• Over the past year strategic plan leaders and many other University partners have conducted the first in-depth overall evaluation of the strategic plan that will lead Emory in fulfilling its vision and mission through 2015. The strategic plan helps us to strengthen our core and enlarge the scope of what we do best, Wagner said, referring the audience to learn more in the special Strategic Plan Update in Emory Report (see special insert).

• Wagner commended the foresight and leadership of multidisciplinary teams in the University and Emory Healthcare who have helped Emory to be prepared for an uncertain flu season with the first wave of the novel H1N1 influenza. “We can be deeply grateful for the countless hours of preparation and the innovative application of experience that our planning teams have brought in making our campus as ready as we possibly can be,” he said.

This inventory of accomplishments over the past year collectively demonstrates that Emory has not been distracted by challenges, Wagner said. He believes Emory can lead from its new resource base — one that is “$60 million annually less than a revenue base we were used to, and counted on for our future.”

It wouldn’t be ethical to ask the Emory community to do more with less, he said. Rather, adjusting to this economic climate change has meant doing “less with less” in one area so that the University can focus and excel in another.

“It has been gratifying to see our faculty and staff rally to the cause of resizing our program’s budgets, and our own Student Government Association has made itself available for positive engagement in this effort as well,” he said. “But deep determination has been and will continue to be necessary.”

Wagner spoke of the importance, going forward, “to keep our eyes on our primary purpose.” We must think deeply about how Emory can best serve society, he said, and be true to the “unique facets of our calling to be a powerful intellectual community.”

To the faculty, staff and students in the audience, and the rest of the Emory community, Wagner concluded: “Thanks to you, the state of our university is sound, and good, and promising.”