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Still True to Our Vision: Strengthening Faculty Distinction

The first goal elaborated by our strategic plan is the strengthening of our world-class, diverse faculty for the sake of preeminence in education, research, scholarship, health care, and service.

Shoshana Felman

Shoshana Felman, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Comparative Literature and French, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Felman’s work explores the connections among literature and psychoanalysis, philosophy, theater, women’s studies, Holocaust studies, and the law.

Strategic recruitment and external recognition

Toward that end, the $35 million Faculty Distinction Fund has supported recruitment of twenty-two eminent new faculty members in the humanities; the social, natural, and health sciences; and the professions. During this half decade, Emory recruited a net gain of 138 tenured and tenure-track faculty members, an increase of 13 percent.

Moreover, the number of faculty members who have been elected to membership in national academies rose from seventeen in 2005 to thirty-three, and the number of external awards and honors bestowed on Emory faculty members—Guggenheim fellowships, national humanities medals, and the like—grew from sixteen in 2005 to twenty-one.

Happily, Emory’s faculty remains among the most diverse in a peer group of thirteen distinguished research universities:

Professional development through dialogue

Last year we celebrated the first full year of operation of the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence.

With the appointment of Laurie Patton, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Religion, to direct the center, activities and programs have brought together more than 400 faculty members for workshops, seminars, and consultations on the art of teaching in its first year of programming.

Through its innovative matching of senior and junior faculty members, its offering of grants to support new teaching initiatives by faculty, and its designation of distinguished teaching scholars to foster dialogue about pedagogy, the center is proving to be an effective catalyst for Emory’s faculty members.

Portrait of Sally Wolff King

Sally Wolff King, senior lecturer in English, gained the New York Times' attention with the 2010 publication of her book, Ledgers of History: William Faulkner, an Almost Forgotten Friendship, and an Antebellum Plantation Diary. The book reveals for the first time the source of some of William Faulkner’s fiction: it turns out that the great Nobel laureate found a number of his stories in the plantation ledger books of an Emory alumnus's ancestor.

Celebrating our community's "Life of the Mind"

The Life of the Mind lecture series, launched by the Office of the Provost in 2007, provides a stage for showcasing the work of eminent Emory faculty members to our own community. It is an oddity of modern academic life that the achievements of faculty at any given institution often are better known by their peers and fellow guild members across the country than by their colleagues at home.

Topics have ranged from “good and evil” to predictive health to the radical impact of digital technology on filmmaking, and Emory faculty members who have delivered these Life of the Mind lectures include:

Still True to Our Vision: Ensuring Highest Student Quality and Best Student Experience >


This year we celebrated the appointment of Emory faculty members to national leadership positions, exemplified by the selection of School of Law professor Frank Alexander to serve as general counsel and director of policy and research for the Center for Community Progress. An award-winning scholar and teacher, with a passion for social justice, Alexander is taking his expertise in municipal and state-level affordable housing and community development to apply it on the national stage. The timing could not be more auspicious, as communities throughout the country seek to stabilize themselves in the midst of a great recession affecting the housing industry.

Other Emory leaders recognized for their distinctive excellence include David Wynes, vice president for research, who has assumed the chairship of the Council on Governmental Relations; Dean Tom Lawley of the School of Medicine, who chairs the Association of American Medical Colleges; and Dean Lisa Tedesco of the Laney Graduate School, who was elected to the board of the Council of Graduate Schools.