February 1, 2010

Founders Week marks milestones

Poetry, lectures, anniversaries and an art opening highlight Emory’s annual Founders Week celebration. The mid-winter academic festival of the arts and sciences celebrates the role of the University in promoting inquiry and intellectual life.

The week kicked off on Sunday, Jan. 31, with a poetry reading and booksigning by three-term U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky as part of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library Reading Series.

The academic, social and cultural fare continues throughout the week.

On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Andrew Urban, a community research postdoctoral fellow with the Transforming Community Project, will present his research on Emory’s first international student. The lecture will explore the Emory experience of Korean immigrant Yun Ch'i-Ho, who graduated in 1893, and his perspective of the South in the 1890s. Urban will present again at Oxford College on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. Yun’s great-great granddaughter is an Emory senior and is expected to be in attendance.

On Tuesday night, the Transforming Community Project will celebrate its fifth anniversary of documenting the University’s past and confronting current challenges around the issue of race and difference. The annual “Experiencing Race at Emory” symposium will focus on the many faculty, staff and students who have participated in the project since its inception in fall 2005. The interactive event will have ample opportunities for audience participation: Watch a documentary featuring Emory’s TCP Community Dialogue participants’ testimonials of transformation, and enjoy a readers’s theater experience that will give voice to key moments in Emory’s racial history amidst a backdrop of slides and film footage from the TCP archives.

“This is going to be a very exciting event,” says TCP’s Melissa Sexton. “It will be a celebration of the Emory community and of what this project has meant to Emory as a whole over these last five years. It will also be about looking forward as we move in new directions.”

Events on Wednesday, Feb. 3 include the Distinguished Faculty Lecture, presented by Emory’s Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry Natasha Trethewey. The Pulitzer Prize-winner will speak on “Why I Write: Poetry, History, and Social Justice” in a Life of the Mind series lecture.

Emory’s Program in Democracy and Citizenship brings best-selling author and PBS host Richard Brookhiser to campus on Feb. 3. In the Founders Week spirit, Brookhiser recalls America’s founding fathers in “What Would the Founders Do?  Our Questions, Their Answers.”

Another Emory unit celebrating a major milestone during Founders Week is the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services at a 30th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, Feb. 4. A panel of faculty, staff and students will discuss the roles of the OMPS office in decades of advocacy for minority and diversity issues at Emory. The dynamic program will include a photo slideshow and question-and-answer period.

Also on Feb. 4, the Visual Arts Gallery celebrates the opening of Dawoud Bey’s “Class Pictures” exhibit, on view until March 4. The evening will include an artist’s talk and the unveiling of plans for Bey’s residency at Emory, when the renowned portraitist will work with the Transforming Community Project to create portraits of faculty, staff and students in an exploration of racial diversity on campus.

The 2010 Founders Week schedule may be slighter than in years past but its offerings are no less robust.

“Although budget issues constrained us this year, we nonetheless have an exciting slate of lecturers and events,” says Sally Wolff King, who has worked with Founders Week since its inception.

The annual Founders Dinner on Feb. 1 ushers in the festivities. The evening will bring together trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni in a tradition stretching back to the 1920s.

Founders Week has its roots in the old Charter Day, when Emory celebrated the chartering of the University on Jan. 25, 1915, says Gary Hauk, vice president and deputy to the president.

“Some years ago we wanted to start commemorating the earlier founding of Emory College, and since the anniversary of Dec. 10, 1836, is difficult to fit into the end of the fall semester, we decided to toast Feb. 6, 1837, the first meeting of the College trustees,” Hauk explains.

Founders Week is sponsored by the Office of the President.

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