Standing by what is good
Annual Report of the President 2013
Chiseled into the front gate to the main campus of Emory University are words expressed more than a century ago by the eighth president of Emory College, Atticus Haygood:
Let us stand by what is good and try to make it better.
State of the University 2013
Amid awards and recognitions, exciting new ventures and collaborations, and an athletics national championship, Emory President James W. Wagner reviews the year that was in this State of the University address.
Emory was named the best of the nation’s colleges and universitites by the US Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools. The designation recognizes institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to school sustainability, environmental initiatives, and commitment to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
As we consider the state of Emory University at the end of 2013, I am happy and confident in reporting that there is a great deal for us to stand by here, because there is a great deal that is good indeed. At the same time, I am deeply impressed and encouraged by the immeasurable contributions of countless men and women—from students to staff members, from faculty to alumni—who are working very hard to make the good still better.
Their efforts are all the more inspiring because of their success amid the challenges of an ever-shifting landscape. American higher education both benefits from and struggles to understand the changing context of American society. In the past five years, the financial distresses of the world’s economy, the rise of new technologies, and growing concerns about the durability of the traditional liberal arts have pressed us to ask serious questions about our mission and direction.
These questions call to mind a less well-known quotation from another Emory president, Goodrich C. White, who served during the 1940s and 1950s. In his report to the Board of Trustees in October 1953, President White offered this prescient observation:
I am confident of the future place and usefulness of private colleges and universities. But I am equally confident that their place and usefulness will depend upon three basic considerations: clarity and definiteness of purpose; emphasis upon quality of educational service; and limitation of the fields in which they undertake to serve. . . . We cannot do everything; what we do must be done superlatively well.
Through the ten-year strategic plan launched in 2005, Emory has sought to be very clear about its purpose. Through the successfully completed Campaign Emory, we have helped to ensure the highest quality and value of an Emory education. And with the advice and experience of faculty councils in each of our schools and across the university, we are determining what we are most able to do, aware that we cannot do everything.
Done superlatively well
To our collective delight, Emory has been recognized in the past year for doing a number of things well indeed. Perhaps, like a glimpse of the Atlanta skyline, this report might call attention to those programs and achievements that seem to rise like skyscrapers on the horizon, without in any way diminishing the strength and substance of so much else that is good.
With the conferral of the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, one area earning Emory special commendation was the creation of a campuswide Advisory Council on Community and Diversity (ACCD). The ACCD consists of a chief community and diversity officer, a steering committee, and divisional committees designed to address issues of community and diversity throughout the institution.
Last year, Emory and Georgia Tech each received more than $500 million in research funding and together spent nearly $1.25 billion on scientific research. That work, in turn, helps power the institutional engines that generate billions in economic output for Atlanta, Georgia, and the region.
In October we learned that Emory had been named to receive the 2013 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award. This recognition is given annually by Insight Into Diversity magazine to colleges and universities that demonstrate outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. I am particularly proud that we received this award following a year when several incidents prompted questions about our institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion.
In truth, while our society continues to struggle with bringing actions and ideals into alignment, Emory has moved vigorously in a number of ways to ensure its commitment to this process at all levels. Under the leadership of a new advisory committee on community and diversity, every school and division of Emory has completed the first year of work—looking closely at their efforts to forge transparency, trust, and openness when it comes to building a diverse community. As we move into the second year of this process, the advisory committee will help us be diligent about implementing the many recommendations coming out of the divisions’ reports.
Just one month before that announcement by Insight Into Diversity, Emory once again cosponsored and hosted the Atlanta Music Festival, an exploration of the dynamic character of American music and arts through the lens of African American concert music. This collaboration between our Center for Community Partnerships, Emory’s James Weldon Johnson Institute, and various community partners throughout Atlanta shines a light on evolving racial and societal landscapes. It also encourages a deeper understanding of the relationships among music, culture, and education.
This festival is merely one example of Emory University’s commitment to service and intensive campus-community partnerships. Our Graduation Generation program, launched three years ago with the generous support of alumnus and trustee Rick Rieder, recently benefited from significant additional funding. The program involves Emory with more than a dozen community organizations, government agencies, and philanthropies to help students succeed in the transition to and completion of high school.
On a similar note, Emory once again earned national recognition through selection to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, with Distinction. This marks the third time in five years that the Corporation for National and Community Service has saluted Emory, including awarding the university the 2008 Presidential Award for General Community Service, the highest federal recognition given to colleges and universities for community service.
Speaking of our work in Atlanta, we continue to build on our many-faceted partnership with Georgia Tech, our crosstown fellow member of the Association of American Universities. In addition to the unique public-private collaboration of our two institutions in building the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (ranked second in the nation), we have received funding to link our Rollins School of Public Health with Georgia Tech through the first center to study the human health effects of lifetime exposures. Our libraries too are developing a joint facility for an off-site service center and exploring other ways to share resources. We believe that such partnerships between private and public institutions will become increasingly important as higher education is called upon to demonstrate its value to American society.
On campus, the busy autumn semester of 2013 brought two celebrations of Emory’s commitment to the humanities. In September the singer, songwriter, and budding memoirist Paul Simon delivered this year’s Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature—the first time in the quarter-century existence of the lectures that they were delivered by someone other than a writer of fiction or literary criticism.
In October His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama once again visited our campus in his role as Presidential Distinguished Professor to lead probing conversations into the prospect for developing a universal ethics. For many of us, the highlight of the three days of programs during his visit was the afternoon when some two dozen of our faculty members—representing our nine schools and colleges—engaged in give-and-take on such perplexities as the ambiguities of human psychology, the particular nuances of American religious experience, and the burden of suffering in the world.
Affirming the arts and sciences
These high points through the year simply underscore the ongoing work of our faculty in evaluating and demonstrating the value of the liberal arts for our society. At Emory, faculty members in the humanities, arts, and sciences are in conversation together to deepen our knowledge and advance our understanding.
As the Dalai Lama entered a classroom to visit with Emory students this past October, his characteristic modesty was very much intact as he announced, “In the classroom, I always feel I am one of the students.”
Typical of an Emory Center for Digital Scholarship project is “The Battle of Atlanta,” which will construct a mobile experience and multimedia website centered on that key struggle of the Civil War. As the sesquicentennial of the battle approaches in July 2014, people interested in exploring the movement of troops and the battle’s most significant sites will encounter a vastly changed landscape layered with history through this project.
Under the charge of Provost Claire Sterk, the Commission on the Liberal Arts has gained new vigor to imagine our way into a future where the arts and sciences at Emory play an even more vital role in all our schools and society. Professor of Psychology Robyn Fivush chairs this effort, and she is joined by vice chairs Karen Stolley, professor of Spanish, and Deborah Bruner, professor of nursing.
With a focus on learning through instruction, innovation, and integration, the commission is leading conversations across the campus on what we do well, what we want to change, and what we want to construct that is new. During the next year and a half, this work will strengthen collaboration across disciplines, recommend enhanced academic infrastructure, and enliven our intellectual community. As a liberal arts research university, Emory intends to exemplify how the arts and sciences meet the needs of society and the individual simultaneously.
Not only in traditional ways do the humanities at Emory continue to stand above the horizon. In the digital humanities, Emory earned recognition from Library Journal for the creative merging of four services into the new Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. This center will leverage the capabilities of faculty and students in creating digital projects; using digital materials in teaching, gathering, and interpreting electronic data; and accessing our significant electronic collections. Eight new appointments in the Department of English in the past year not only have enriched offerings in the study of poetry, fiction, and literary theory but also expanded digital scholarship and pedagogy.
Our society wrestles with questions about the future of the book, the rising generation’s relationship with the written word, and the implications of both of these questions for the power of critical thinking and clear expression. Such wrestling may be nothing new, as every generation faces its own fears about whether it is successfully transmitting its values to the future. We at Emory are confident that our faculty and staff are contributing positive and hopeful answers to these questions. In terms of teaching, research, and service, this brief outline underscores the success of Emory in fulfilling its mission to create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in service to humanity.
Of course it is heartening to see the recognition that our faculty and students receive for their extraordinary contributions to Emory and society.
The Nature of Evidence: An introduction to Emory University’s Quality Enhancement Plan
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a five-year plan dedicated to improving an aspect of student learning. A mandatory requirement for accreditation by the SACS Commission on Colleges, the QEP at Emory focuses on the nature of evidence. Teaching first-year students about evidence, and particularly primary evidence, enhances Emory’s place as a tier 1 research university with a leading undergraduate college. Our goal is to make an encounter with evidence—whether an original manuscript, a pottery shard, or a genetic chain—a part of every Emory student’s education. We are engaging first-year students in the classroom, through research, and in a variety of activities across campus, thereby creating a foundation for subsequent undergraduate research experiences and honors projects.
Goizueta Business School’s full-time MBA Program ranks No. 1 nationally for job placement, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Natasha Trethewey’s second term as US poet laureate began in September, when she undertook a regular feature on the PBS NewsHour Poetry Series. Trethewey is joining Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Brown for a series of on-location reports in various US cities to explore large societal issues through poetry’s lens.
Among faculty recognitions in the past year, Elizabeth Corwin, Rebecca Gary, Susan Shapiro, and Judith Wold—all professors at Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing—were inducted into the American Academy of Nursing. Professor Wold had the added distinction of being named the 2012 Georgia Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Raymond Schinazi, the Frances Winship Walters Professor of Pediatrics at Emory and director of the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology, was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors as a charter fellow. Joel Bowman received the 2013 Herschbach Award in theoretical chemistry for his bold and influential work as one of the founders of theoretical reaction dynamics. Natasha Trethewey became the eighth faculty member in six years elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was appointed to a second term as US poet laureate.
A Measure of Faculty Quality
Increased rigor in the process of appointment, promotion, and tenure is making the quality of the faculty still better.
Nadine Kaslow, professor of psychology and former president of the University Senate, was elected president of the American Psychological Association. And Kevin Young won the 2013 PEN Open Book Award given by the PEN American Center.
Among our students’ achievements, last year marked the first time that a case prepared by students was heard by the United States Supreme Court, as the student-run Emory Law Supreme Court Advocacy Project won a favorable opinion from the high court in May.
The 2013 crop of graduates kept pace with previous generations of graduating classes, garnering four Fulbright grants, a Goldwater Scholarship, two Humanity in Action Fellowships, one Luce Scholarship, and six National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. Six of our student-athletes received NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships in 2013, bringing the total since 2000 to 65, more than any other NCAA institution except Stanford University.
While on the subject of athletics, let us note that the overall Emory athletics program finished second in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Division III standings, led in no small measure by our women’s swimming and diving team, which won its fourth-consecutive national championship.
Quality of Our Students
The Emory Scholarship Endowment Initiative will make it possible to ensure the best fit between Emory and prospective students, regardless of their personal resources.
Most heartening, perhaps, is that Emory athletics still fulfills the ideal of the student-athlete that shaped one of the nation’s first intramural sports programs more than a century and a quarter ago. Just as much as athletic success, our student-athletes value the development of that ancient ideal of a sound mind in a healthy body. Impressively, last fall the Department of Athletics and Recreation invited the Emory Center for Ethics to collaborate in developing an innovative program for student-athletes to strengthen moral judgment and character—traditional hallmarks of sport.
The Ethos of the Residential Campus
Such programs are a way of life at Emory. One of the strengths of Emory is its emphasis on the unique value of a residential liberal arts education in the context of a major research university with a top-ranked academic health sciences center. Apart from the first five years of life, the ages of 18 to 24 constitute the greatest period of growth and development of personhood in the modern human lifespan—psychologically, intellectually, and socially.
Campus Life Compact for Building an Inclusive Community at Emory
An ad hoc committee of students and Campus Life staff released the “Campus Life Compact for Building an Inclusive Community at Emory,” a student-driven report that advances the ongoing campus dialogue around issues of social justice.
The passage of four of those years among a community of scholars and fellow questers has proven, for a millennium, to be an especially powerful means for helping young people find an authentic identity, develop an entrepreneurial spirit, gain insight, learn openness to others, and awaken to a call to serve. That is the value of an institution like Emory for individuals and society. What could be more useful to society than young people with such virtues?
To help ensure that the residential educational experience is as powerfully transformative as it can be, our Division of Campus Life—under the leadership of Senior Vice President Ajay Nair—has undertaken several ambitious steps. Foremost among these has been sharpening the vision for campus life, which seeks to be “recognized internationally for advancing education into action and delivering world-class programs and services, promoting a healthy and sustainable environment where students live what they learn and learn what they live for self and society.” As evidence of Emory’s success in fostering this vision, in March an ad hoc committee of students and Campus Life staff released the “Campus Life Compact for Building an Inclusive Community at Emory."
At nearly the same time, the Phase II Committee on Dissent, Protest, and Community issued its draft “Freedom of Expression Policy,” which more than ever before in Emory’s history lays out clearly and matter-of-factly the university’s dual commitments to freedom of discourse, inquiry, and assembly as well as to the rights of university members to pursue their activities without risk of injury to persons or property.
Our society appears increasingly to have difficulty finding ways to be in dialogue about matters that threaten to divide us. Emory and other universities have an opportunity to serve as models for peaceable dissent and protest within the context of thousands of highly diverse and thoughtful persons whose opinions often diverge widely. The University Senate adopted the Freedom of Expression Policy in October 2013, creating a new structure for educating the community about its freedoms and responsibilities while safeguarding their integrity.
Achievement and Transformation
Of course, little of what we do is possible without friends and supporters who help provide the resources necessary for a major research university. Through Campaign Emory, which we brought to a successful close at the end of 2012 after raising nearly $1.7 billion, we have helped to ensure the highest quality and value of an Emory education.
Program and Financial Strength
Programs and finances will be enhanced through a new alignment of the School of Medicine and Emory Healthcare, through completion of the strategy to strengthen Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and through institutional partnerships.
Some of our campaign gifts are making it possible to improve facilities, from the $52 million expansion and renovation of the Sanford S. Atwood Chemistry Center, to the construction of a new home for Pitts Theology Library, and from the new library at Oxford College to the completion of the last residence hall in our Freshman Village (Eléonore Raoul Hall, named for Emory’s first female student, a 1920 graduate of the law school).
In addition, the Emory Proton Therapy Center in downtown Atlanta, the new Health Sciences Research Building across the street from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and the new bed tower for Emory University Hospital rising out of the ground along Clifton Road dramatically will reshape programs in medicine, nursing, public health, and health care. To increase efficiency while remaining a national model for academic health centers, Emory School of Medicine and Emory Healthcare are working together under the Emory Medicine initiative to improve effectiveness while maximizing resources for their shared missions of patient care, discovery, and education. Faculty and administrative leaders in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center are working hard to meet the changing landscape of American health care in the 21st century.
Through university-wide attention to improving its business processes, Emory has become increasingly cost-effective—for instance, setting the national benchmark for efficient use of servers for high volumes of email.
Let me conclude by returning to the comments of former president Goodrich White with which we began. In addition to reminding us of the need to make choices and to decline trying to be all things, President White expressed an optimism that we have every reason to share in our current period of Emory’s history. He said,
There will never be an end to problems to be solved, to the need for hard work, to the need for wisdom in planning and in the execution of plans. We have made great commitments. We face great opportunity.
We are grateful to the thousands of people who help make our work possible, and I look forward to working with you to advance Emory’s future with faith, courage, and confidence.
James W. Wagner
President, Emory University