Oxford after 175

Teaching in the field

While all of Emory University celebrates its 175th anniversary this year, no other academic division is as deeply connected to the University’s beginnings as Oxford College, occupying the original Emory campus in the town incorporated by Ignatius Few and his fellow Emory founders. It could also be said that no other division has seen as many changes or challenges.

When the University was chartered in 1915 and Emory College moved to Atlanta in 1919, the direction and identity of Oxford were uncertain. In his book An Uncommon Place: Oxford College of Emory University 1914–2000, Dean for Campus Life Joe Moon says, “Through the decades, the Oxford campus regularly reevaluated and shifted its academic program. . . . Oxford leaders sought to find a suitable niche in the University by developing a functional organizational structure and fitting curriculum.”

Today, Oxford’s role within Emory and in higher education is firmly established. It is one of the University’s nine academic divisions, and there is a clear understanding of Oxford and its mission as one of the two programs for students entering the University as undergraduates. Oxford is distinctive in providing a small-campus experience and a liberal arts-intensive curriculum for the first two years of the undergraduate degree.

Oxford’s faculty are teachers first, promoting active learning and showing concern for their individual students’ success. Ways of Inquiry (INQ), an innovative new curriculum, was introduced in the past year. INQ strengthens and deepens what was already being accomplished at Oxford: teaching students to write cogently, to communicate effectively, and to pursue knowledge through inquiry. INQ provides Oxford students with learning challenges uncommon for first- and second-year students.

Uncommon too are Oxford’s opportunities for leadership. In a student body composed of first- and second-year students only, there are no upperclassmen on the Oxford campus to whom the freshmen and sophomores must defer. Through leadership and community-service programs, Oxford students are encouraged to discover their leadership potential and experience the rewards of service.

The Oxford College/Emory College combination has attracted much attention in the past few years. One result is that Oxford has achieved a full enrollment of nine hundred while simultaneously enrolling the most credentialed classes in its history.

Oxford continues to attract students who want to make a difference in the world. They choose Oxford because they can find here an outstanding education in a place where they can make a significant contribution.

While many things have come and gone at Oxford since 1836, its essential qualities endure. Academic excellence. Commitment to leadership and service. A small, intimate community. Whatever else may change, these will continue to characterize Oxford College as it moves toward all that lies ahead.

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