As defined by John Emory, a Methodist bishop of Maryland, education embraces “the whole wide scope of the character, condition, and interests of man, physical, mental, moral and religious, for time and eternity.” Emory College was named after this young bishop, who died in a carriage accident shortly before the college was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1836. Emory still exemplifies and promotes such a broad educational purpose.
Through the uncertain times of World War I, Emory College remained at Oxford. In 1915 it moved to Atlanta, where it shared a campus with professional schools in an urban center. In an America placing ever greater emphasis on specialized education, the college’s curriculum inevitably changed. Although general education—the role of preparing liberally educated students—continues to be the core of Emory’s mission, that role is balanced by opportunities to specialize in a large number of disciplines.
In 1962 Emory took the initiative to end racial restrictions by asking the courts to declare unconstitutional all provisions in the Georgia constitution and statutes that denied tax-exempt status to private universities and colleges that integrated their student bodies. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled in Emory’s favor. To honor Emory’s venturesomeness in confronting an issue of academic freedom, the American Association of University Professors presented Henry L. Bowden, chair of Emory’s board, the Alexander Meiklejohn Award.
Emory continues to be committed to diversification of its student body, and substantial scholarship funding in recent years has enabled the college to achieve this. Most prominent among the awards are the Woodruff Scholarships. Robert W. Woodruff, who studied at old Oxford, took over the helm of The Coca-Cola Company in the 1920s, and in due course became Emory’s most generous benefactor, at first in the medical area, then to the entire University. In 1979 he and his brother George gave Emory an endowment of $105 million, the largest benefaction to a single educational institution in the history of American philanthropy up to that time. The Woodruff Scholarships are one of many important ways in which Emory benefits from the Woodruff endowment.
Higher education in contemporary America faces difficult challenges, and Emory is poised to meet them. It has advanced from its place as a distinguished regional university to one of national and international stature. It is confidently building on this momentum. Our state-of-the-art facilities, including the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, and our unique partnerships with such institutions as the CDC and The Carter Center, help us remain true to our mission of teaching and learning not only to advance scholarly knowledge and professional expertise but also to cultivate humane wisdom and moral integrity. Emory College is taking sound and imaginative initiatives to shape an undergraduate education that will prepare young men and women for the challenges of the twenty-first century.
Adapted from: James Harvey Young, author of "Emory College: A Brief History,” relied on the two published histories of Emory: Henry Morton Bullock, A History of Emory University (1936), and Thomas H. English, Emory University, 1915–65, A Semicentennial History (1966), and early annuals. The Rivers-Malone example was drawn from Saul Benison, Tom Rivers: Reflections on a Life in Medicine and Science (1967), and Dumas Malone, “Memorandum on Emory College” (1981). Mark K. Bauman, Warren Akin Candler: The Conservative as Idealist (1981) treats Candler as Emory student, president and chancellor.