Emory Report
March 31, 2008
Volume 60, Number 25

Thesis excerpt
“Through his letters [written from 1899–1940, Dooley] gave voice to students when they did not have a strong voice of their own. He attempted also to motivate these students to take action, particularly when it came to unpopular university policies. It mattered little to him that he wrote during a time when students, even collectively, had virtually no impact on the decisions of the university administration. His tone never carried any sense of condescension towards the students, although he never refrained from being direct or speaking his mind, even when his opinions were considered unpopular.”

From “Dooley: A Voice for Emory’s ‘Poor Downtrodden Student’,” Tanya Willard, 2006

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March 31, 2008
Getting into the spirit of Emory

By Laura Sommer

School spirit is no mystery. You either have it, or you don’t. Tanya Willard, assistant director of the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement and coordinator of new student orientation, is certainly not lacking in school spirit. She genuinely loves Emory University and even did her master’s thesis on Dooley and the “spirit” of Emory.

Willard’s thesis was an examination of Dooley’s role as an early student affairs professional. “Though he technically considered himself a faculty member, his contributions to both student and campus culture could also qualify him as a career counselor, academic adviser, athletics booster, fraternity adviser, conduct officer, campus activities programmer and substance abuse counselor. He also was really frustrated with Emory students’ apathy towards their school. As the self-proclaimed ‘spirit’ of Emory, he saw his role as that of a motivator for students,” shares Willard.

One might conclude that from Willard’s choice of thesis topic that she is a proud Emory grad. Not so: She went to the University of Tennessee. However, that doesn’t change her passion for Emory, a passion that, like Dooley, Willard tries to instill in every incoming freshman she meets on campus.

“I think school spirit helps to foster pride in your school. I went to a big university with big football and a lot of our school spirit came from football and athletics. I think it’s really important for Emory to remember that although we don’t have football, we have tons of reasons to be proud of Emory and still have that same sense of school spirit,” she says.

Willard’s enthusiasm is most evident during orientation. “It’s a responsibility that I take really seriously. I always remember that a student’s satisfaction with Emory largely depends on their first two weeks at school, and orientation can play a huge role in their level of satisfaction,” says Willard.

One of her favorite orientation moments each year is the Campus Life opening program. “It’s the first time the new class gathers together in one place and you can just feel the excitement.”

Willard says part of what inspires her both in life and on the job are the 110 orientation leaders and captains that she works with. “They are the heart and soul of the orientation program and do it all with no pay, in extreme heat, and in the same shirt every day for a week,” she says. “I am so lucky to be able to work with a group of students who love Emory and want to do everything they can to make sure that every new student loves Emory too.”

Willard is in the business of inspiring others but is also good at inspiring herself. Lately, she’s been spending countless hours training for the Iron Girl Women’s Triathlon. When Willard takes part in the event in June she’ll be raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She will compete in memory of her father, who passed away in 2000 after battling leukemia and lymphoma.

“I’m so passionate about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I love being able to combine my passion for triathlons with my passion for helping find a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers,” explains Willard.

When Willard isn’t in training or on campus meeting with and inspiring students, she’s likely relaxing at home with her dog and cat or out enjoying the spring weather with friends.