Sanford S. Atwood, who served as president of Emory for fourteen years, died on December 2, 2002, one day short of his ninetieth birthday.

Atwood came to Emory in 1963 from Cornell University, where he was provost. Met with a large cumulative deficit in the budget and an inadequate endowment, he promptly raised tuition, announcing his intention to compete nationally for the best faculty.

Time magazine took notice, reporting that “Emory may need $100 million in the next decade to win the rank it wants–a place among the nation’s top twenty universities.”

Before his retirement in 1977, Atwood doubled the size of the faculty, increased enrollment by 63 percent to more than seven thousand students, and broke ground for $150 million in construction. Facilities added to the campus during his tenure included a new gymnasium at Oxford College; the first buildings at Yerkes Primate Research Center; the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing; the Robert W. Woodruff Library; the sorority lodges; the Dental School Building; the Center for Rehabilitation Medicine; Gambrell Hall; the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building; Goodrich C. White Hall; and the Chemistry Center, completed in 1974 and renamed for Atwood in 1991.

Born in Janesville, Wisconsin, in 1912, Atwood earned three degrees from the University of Wisconsin before he was twenty-six. A plant cytologist, he became a professor in the department of plant breeding at Cornell.

In his last annual report in 1976, Atwood said: “Emory can only be as great as we have faith to believe. . . . We have only begun to stir the imagination and generosity of Emory’s constituency. I am certain Emory is destined to be one of the great universities of this country.”–M.J.L.

Other Précis articles:

A return to scholarship

End of an era

• Triumph of imagination

• A not-so-modest proposal

• Seeing with new eyes

• Faculty author resigns

• Way cool

• SAT prep made easy

• Remembering Michael C. Carlos

• Remembering Sanford S. Atwood

• Henry who?

• Awakening the demon

• Bringing science to life




© 2003 Emory University