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Donors Strengthen Graduate Education

To honor a mentor and celebrate the leadership of Dean Lisa Tedesco, Emory trustee and alumnus Jim Gavin 70PhD (above) has made a bequest to support the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies. The gift helped the school surpass its $10 million goal through Campaign Emory, a seven-year fund-raising effort that has inspired new levels of support from alumni and friends.

Gavin’s bequest honors Tedesco and Emory President Emeritus James Laney, who led the university through a time of unprecedented growth. With help from the $105 million Woodruff gift in 1979, Laney strengthened the faculty and expanded graduate education in distinction and breadth, among other priorities. The graduate school was named in his honor in 2009.

“I love the energy and vision Dean Tedesco has brought to the graduate school and the very notion of giving the school an identity built on the ethos of Jim Laney. I want to be known as a member of this team,” says Gavin, who chaired the campaign for the Laney Graduate School.

A clinical professor of medicine at Emory School of Medicine, Gavin is an expert in diabetes and childhood obesity. He chairs the board of directors for the Partnership for a Healthier America, which is instrumental in First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity. He also is a former president of Atlanta’s Morehouse School of Medicine, served as a senior scientific officer for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for more than a decade, and has been on the Emory University Board of Trustees since 2003.

Gavin’s gift—along with many others—brings the Laney Graduate School’s campaign total to $12.3 million. Largely from alumni, faculty, staff, and foundations, these investments are strengthening professional development programs for students, providing fellowship funding, supporting research, rewarding scholarship, and funding other Laney Graduate School priorities. Among the campaign gifts are the following:

• Alumnus William Rice 86G and his wife, Catherine Rice, have established the William and Catherine Rice Endowed Research Award to support student awards in cancer biology.

• James L. Montag 58C and his late wife, Ethel Montag, have created the Jim and Ethel Montag Graduate Physics Award in honor of Fereydoon Family, Emory’s Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Physics.

• Former faculty member Trudier Harris has made a lead gift to launch the James William Richardson Jr. Dissertation Completion Award and is raising funds to build its endowment.

• Jeannie Main has made a generous gift to the Eleanor Main Outreach Fund to benefit Emory’s Challenge and Champions program and other K-12 outreach initiatives. Her gift continues the work of her sister Eleanor Main, a former associate dean of the Laney Graduate School. Strategic consultant Beth Schapiro 77G 79G also supports the Eleanor Main Outreach fund in honor of Main, who was her mentor.

• A gift from the estate of Charles and Marjorie Dobrovolny will assist graduate students and researchers working in the area of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

• The late W. Robert Wellborn 78A established an endowment to support students in the doctoral program in cancer biology as well as those focused on work in translational research.

• Rebecca Halyard Pridmore 65C 67G and her husband, Brooke Pridmore, enabled the Laney Graduate School to surpass its $10 million campaign goal with an investment in physics and biology doctoral programs. Their estate gift will provide a legacy for students in these important disciplines.

• The Mellon Foundation has funded a new fellowship that will allow doctoral students in art history to collaborate with Atlanta’s High Museum of Art on curatorial research. The foundation also is continuing its long-term support of the Mellon Graduate Teaching Fellowship program, which collaborates with colleges and universities in Atlanta and the region to prepare Emory graduate students for careers in higher education.

• The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has provided a grant to fund a new translational science program that gives doctoral students the expertise to translate biomedical scientific discoveries into treatments to benefit human health.

• The ARCS Foundation added a $10,000 annual Global Impact Award to its longtime support of Emory graduate students. This grant furthered the work of chemistry student Aaron Thornton 10PhD, whose research explored ways to reduce the cost of new medications.

Among the new and ongoing priorities for fund-raising at the Laney Graduate School are the school’s professionalization programs for students, endowed funds named for James T. Laney, the Bobby Jones Fellowship program, and the Bobby Jones Program for Scholarly Integrity.

To learn how you can support these and other efforts at the Laney Graduate School, visit


James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies Volunteer Campaign Chair: James R. Gavin III 70PhD