Achievement & Celebration
Annual Report of the President 2014
Reflecting on a remarkable decade
In the final year of the university's strategic plan, it is worth noting the milestones of the past 10 years.
State of the University 2014
Hear the president articulate how excellence, integrity, and optimism undergird all that we do.
Eleven years ago the Emory community worked together to forge a vision for our university. The statement we crafted then to summarize that vision was a succinct kind of self-introduction. It told us, and the world, what we thought Emory was and, just as important, what Emory aspired to be—a destination university, internationally recognized as an inquiry-driven, ethically engaged, and diverse community whose members work collaboratively for positive transformation in the world through courageous leadership in teaching, research, scholarship, health care, and social action.
Having articulated that vision, we set out as a university to develop a strategic plan—a road map that would guide our decision making for the next 10 years—after its launch in 2005.
From faculty growth to milestones in sustainability; from international outreach to excellence in Campus Life; from online courses to new libraries, classrooms, and laboratories; from increasing alumni engagement to stronger Emory engagement in Atlanta and beyond; from achievements in athletics to vitality in all the arts; from a new hospital tower rising on the Atlanta campus to the best quality care at patient bedsides throughout Georgia—in all of these areas and more, Emory people can take enormous pride and satisfaction in what they have accomplished.
We may be tempted to take much of this good news for granted. In our own individual spheres of activity—whether studying, teaching, researching, caring for patients, tending the grounds, painting the buildings, cooking food—whatever our work, it is possible for us to lose a sense of the whole. But when we step back, we see a stunning panorama. When we step back, certain contours stand out. And if we look closely, undergirding those contours lie certain bedrock values that mark the ethos of Emory. So, let me talk about those values.
Understanding one anotherinclusivity
The first of these values is excellence.
Class and Labor at Emory
Committee Chair Nadine Kaslow, a faculty member in the School of Medicine, discusses the Committee on Class and Labor’s recommendations and its work thus far, as well as the next steps for the university.
The driving impulse of our work has been that courageous pursuit of understanding that lies at the heart of the Emory vision.
Inclusivity at Emory has come to mean more than opening the doors to difference. It means sharing and taking responsibility for each other and our future.
The first of these values is excellence. The word does not appear in our vision statement because who, after all, would aspire to mediocrity? Of course we want to be excellent. But excellence in this case does not mean merely trying to measure up to other people’s standards; it means setting the standards and inspiring others to meet them.
Emory has long known that true excellence takes in as much of the world’s variety as possible. In the past 10 years, our student body has become ever more diverse. The senior leadership and the board of trustees have become more representative of the broader Emory community. Emory has earned national recognition for its commitment to nurturing a community of scholars and leaders who bring the world to our campus and who, in turn, feel at home anywhere around the globe.
Inclusivity is about more than numbers and faces, though. The driving impulse of our work has been that courageous pursuit of understanding that lies at the heart of the Emory vision. During the past 10 years, Emory has sought to deepen understanding through initiatives such as the Transforming Community Project, which brought together some 2,000 Emory people during its six years for searching, wide-ranging conversations about race. Through our James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, we have cosponsored with CNN profound discussions about social issues confronting America. These and other efforts culminated in Emory receiving the 2013 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.
In 2014 we strengthened these efforts by creating the Office of Equity and Inclusion in the Office of the Provost and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion in the Division of Campus Life to reorganize and augment what we are already doing in academic affairs and the extended campus arena.
Inclusivity at Emory has come to mean more than opening the doors to difference. It means sharing and taking responsibility for each other and our future.
In this respect, the past 10 years—and last year especially—have brought welcome progress. In 2014 the Faculty Council engaged with the faculty broadly about the necessary role and appropriate limits of the faculty’s part in shared responsibility. In Emory College of Arts and Sciences, following debate about the structure of governance, the faculty took a major step toward reorganizing itself for more effective, representative, and active participation in setting the priorities and direction of the college. A survey of our nine schools and colleges suggested that, for our faculty, shared governance is an important way in which we measure inclusivity at Emory, and we will be building on this important facet of our enterprise in the year ahead.
Similarly, the recommendations that came out of the Committee on Class and Labor in 2013 were adopted by the University Senate, and we now have completed the first full year of their implementation. The Senate formed an oversight committee, which has been working to make sure that the university stays on track, ensuring not only that employee benefits and compensation remain equitable but also that our campus fosters respect, appreciation, and collegiality across all our divisions of labor, regardless of people’s levels of education, title, or other forms of status.
All these measures speak to Emory’s aspiration for excellence in every dimension of its life.
Marking faculty and student achievement
At the core of any great university, however, is the excellence of its people.
Emory’s High-Flying Scholar-Athletes
Emory’s athletic Eagles soared, as the women’s swimming and diving team won its fifth consecutive national championship and the women’s tennis team added another national championship to its trophy collection. Athletics Director Tim Downes gives an overview of the program.
Our students have won accolades. Emory this year set a record for the proportion of Fulbright applicants earning awards, and we matched the record for the number of Fulbrights given—eight.
Digital Scholarship at Emory
MARBL faculty curator Pellom McDaniels talks about digital scholarship and the NEH Institute on Black Aesthetics and African-Centered Cultural Expressions at Emory.
One of the explicit themes that has guided our strategic plan is the theme of faculty distinction. No university can hope to be great without renowned scholars and teachers.
In the past year Emory faculty members have continued to bring distinction to themselves and the university. Once again the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has added Emory faculty to its roster, with the election of Larry Young, professor of psychiatry in our school of medicine. Guggenheim Fellowships went to Bonna Wescoat of Art History and Joyce Flueckiger in the Department of Religion. Mathematics Professor Ken Ono was one of three scholars, including a colleague at the University of Queensland and an Emory graduate student, Michael Griffin, who significantly advanced our understanding of algebraic numbers, which have puzzled mathematicians for millennia. In fall 2014, Mahlon DeLong received the prestigious Lasker Award for his pioneering work using deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s disease.
Our faculty members also have distinguished themselves in more collaborative endeavors. During summer 2014—under the leadership of Pellom McDaniels and faculty from the Departments of Music, Religion, Art History, African American Studies, and Theater Studies—Emory hosted the first-ever national conference on black aesthetics, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and attracting scholars from the four corners of the United States and places in between. Collaborators in the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship and the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library continue to advance sophisticated use of technology for teaching and scholarship through apps and other online tools.
In May 2014 we were gratified to learn that the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative—a collaborative effort among half a dozen departments at the leading edge of bridging modern and ancient forms of knowing—had won a prestigious grant of more than $1.5 million from the Templeton Foundation to support its efforts during the next five years. This acknowledgment is well-deserved ratification of the many years that faculty members in the Departments of Medicine, Religion, Anthropology, Biology, Physics, and Psychiatry have devoted to this unique endeavor.
Our students also have won accolades. Emory this year set a record for the proportion of Fulbright applicants earning awards, and we matched the record for the number of Fulbrights given—eight. Emory law students partnered with engineers from Georgia Tech to win an intellectual property competition while producing a new medical device. Once again our athletic Eagles soared, as the women’s swimming and diving team won its fifth national championship in a row, and the women’s tennis team added another national championship to its trophy collection. Even the coaches got into the mix, as men’s basketball coach Jason Zimmerman was a finalist for the NCAA Division III Coach of the Year award, and athletics director Tim Downes was named NCAA Division III Athletics Director of the Year.
For the first time ever, Emory awarded a PhD to a graduate of our unique partnership in biomedical engineering with Georgia Tech and Peking Medical University. Warren Gray studied on all three campuses while completing work for the degree, which demonstrates the growing importance of graduate education on a global scale.
When it comes to students, Emory has aimed to create an environment that engages them as active shapers of their society and their experience. This year, as national media attention turned to the problem of sexual violence on campuses, Emory was out in front in addressing this issue. For a number of years, our Campus Life professionals have been building programs that foster awareness of the issue, encourage bystander intervention, and implement clear procedures of reporting and victim support. More than 1,600 students have been trained during the past two years as sexual assault peer advocates, both to educate fellow students in how to prevent sexual violence and to serve as advocates and support for survivors.
A second value providing the foundation for all that Emory strives to accomplish is integrity.
Excellent Student Experiences
Ajay Nair, vice president and dean of Campus Life, discusses the role of Campus Life in ensuring the quality of the student experience at Emory, from its diversity and inclusiveness, to its beautiful and sustainable buildings, to its living and learning communities.
We have wanted to retain a sense of one community, one campus, whose parts work in sync toward a shared purpose.
I mean this not only in the sense of honesty, principled action, and trustworthiness but also in the sense of wholeness, the condition of not being pulled into pieces by irresistible forces or temptations.
In this respect it is good to recall another theme that emerged during the past 10 years—the theme of Emory as a UNI-versity. More than 50 years ago, the acclaimed chancellor of the University of California–Berkeley, Clark Kerr, observed that the modern university really had become a multiversity, a conglomerate of dozens—if not hundreds—of small communities with often-competing interests and little sense of shared purpose. This was the university as research enterprise, whose many parts sought funding in a host of different sources and whose students, faculty, and alumni had aims that sometimes worked against each other. At Emory, we have sought during the past 30 years to become exactly the kind of research university that Kerr described. At the same time, we have wanted to retain a sense of one community, one campus, whose parts work in sync toward a shared purpose.
The strategic plan that we are wrapping up this year helped to move Emory in both these directions. On the one hand, it shored up and strengthened research in some of our core areas, and on the other hand it simultaneously fostered cross-school and cross-disciplinary collaborations. The Master of Development Practice program, the Center for Creativity and the Arts, the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, the Center for the Study of Human Health, and many other initiatives have grown out of these intentions. Unique collaborations between humanists and scientists have led to new methods for broadening public knowledge and understanding of history, contemporary events, and scientific discoveries.
Glimpsing the good still to come
As gratifying as it is to highlight past achievements, Emory as a community is determinedly future bound.
The Evidence of Things Seen
Sociology faculty Tracy Scott looks at the importance of primary evidence in the structure of the new Quality Enhancement Plan for undergraduates.
Beginning with first-year students, we will ensure that Emory graduates know how to determine what matters as evidence.
Our schools are adapting to the changing environment that every one of Emory’s divisions faces, and our deans are leading boldly in keeping their schools competitive both academically and financially.
Most recently, our preparation for the reaffirmation of Emory’s accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges led our faculty to propose a Quality Enhancement Plan that underscores the need to understand the basis of knowledge. This plan is required by our accreditors as a way of making still stronger the environment and methods by which our students learn. Developed with input from many faculty members during the past three years, our plan is called “The Nature of Evidence.”
Beginning with first-year students, we will ensure that Emory graduates know how to determine what matters as evidence—how it’s gathered, how it’s measured, and how it can be used to inform discussions and decision making. Our society needs such evidence-based decision making more than ever, and Emory is committed to educating young people in the discipline of marshaling valuable evidence. I should note, with great thanks to our faculty, that the site team that visited Emory in spring 2014 had high praise for this Quality Enhancement Plan, calling it a model for what other universities could undertake.
The value of integrity also has guided our development of the theme of responsible stewardship of Emory’s resources and care for Emory’s people. Last year, out of concern for the rising burden of educational costs and student debt, Emory intentionally set the tuition increase for Emory College at the low rate of 2.2 percent. At the same time, we are intent on bending the education cost curve downward. The cost of educating a student is not likely to decline, but we aim to slow the rate of growth of that cost to make education more affordable.
Our schools are adapting to the changing environment that every one of Emory’s divisions faces, and our deans are leading boldly in keeping their schools competitive both academically and financially. Emory College, to take one example, has been able to achieve a balanced budget while continuing to envision ways to strengthen the curriculum and the undergraduate experience through investment in the study of China, digital media, neuroscience, interdisciplinary teaching, African American studies, and science programs.
Even with regard to more mundane matters, we find ways to lower costs. A single recent change in the way we use space will save the university $900,000 a year. Our second phase of Emory Point is well under way, bringing an infusion of $20 million in exchange for underutilized land, while at the same time creating a wonderful new living space and retail destination that has become a vibrant neighborhood for our campus.
Trusting in one anotheroptimism
These developments bring me to the third value that marks Emory's work during the past 11 years. That value is optimism.
The Key to Faculty Governance
University Provost Claire Sterk examines the importance of faculty governance and the unique benefits Emory’s collaborative spirit affords.
Who better to stretch toward those aspirations and to square off against the problems than the very highly qualified and values-guided researchers, scholars, teachers, students, staff, alumni, and administrators of Emory?
At Emory, optimism manifests itself as confidence, not idle hope.
Our optimism for the future is fueled by our record of past achievement. Evidence of our ability to achieve is abundant in the growth of student quality; the impact of our faculty’s teaching, scholarship, and research; and the service to the world by more than 120,000 alumni who have been changed by and support this special place. The quality of Emory has grown in ways that engender in others greater optimism about Emory’s future and confidence in its people.
In Atlanta and across the nation, people who know Emory have every expectation that Emory should be examining matters that both celebrate and confront the human condition. They expect news media to contain Emory opinions about everything from politics to the issues of affordability and access or sexual violence on campus. Our faculty, students, and staff are sought out with confidence because they are thoughtful, contributory, and worth being heard and read.
All of us were thrilled, along with the rest of the world, when two Ebola patients emerged from Emory University Hospital last August free of that terrible disease. While some questioned the wisdom of admitting these patients into the US from Liberia, the splendid physicians, nurses, and other staff of our hospital welcomed them with optimism.By that I don’t mean a glib cheeriness that ignores real danger and difficulty. I mean the certainty that we had resources, facilities, expertise, dedication, commitment, intelligence, and hope in sufficient supply—that we could be confident of success.
As Louis Pasteur observed, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” In this instance, as in so many ways, Emory is prepared. With fortune, and with the bold support and partnership of countless friends and institutions, we have every reason to be optimistic about the years ahead.
Our aspirations for impact and service remain high, and the problems of the day and the near future are difficult and complex. But who better to stretch toward those aspirations and to square off against the problems than the very highly qualified and values-guided researchers, scholars, teachers, students, staff, alumni, and administrators of Emory? Few wells go deeper than Emory’s. That is cause for optimism.
The Emory community has shown extraordinary commitment to the values that have brought us this far—excellence, integrity, and optimism. That commitment will continue to guide Emory into the future.
James W. Wagner
President, Emory University