Presidents

Emory's Leaders and Their Legacies

1800s

Name
Term
Highlights
Ignatius Alphonso Few 1836-1839 First president; Begins school's transition from hybrid of academics and manual labor to Emory College
Augustus Baldwin Longstreet 1840-1848 Raises school's profile to help make Emory College and Oxford, Georgia the intellectual center of Methodism in the Southeast; First class of 3 students graduates
George Foster Pierce 1848-1854 First Emory president educated in Georgia; Capital campaign allows for the cornerstone could be laid for school's first large stone building; Enrollment grows steadily
Alexander Means 1854-1855 Emory College sciences professor is elected president but prefers to return to the classroom, and is later elected a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
James R. Thomas 1855-1867 Before Civil War, balances the college's budget for the first time in Emory's history; After the war, he again helps the school to find financial stability; Persuades trustees to complement the classical curriculum by offering the degree of bachelor of science
Luther M. Smith 1867-1871 First Emory alumnus to serve as its president; Fosters campus religious life and emphasizes college's "character-building" qualities; Board of Trustees first considers moving Emory College to Atlanta
Osborn L. Smith 1871-1875 Emory College alumnus and Latin professor is elected president but prefers to return to the classroom; Oversees the construction of four new buildings
Atticus Greene Haygood 1875-1884 Emory College alumnus elevates school in regional and national stature and delivers "New South" sermon that wins pivotal financial support from New Yorker George Seney; Reforms curriculum, introducing modern languages, vocal music, and English philology and literature; Donates personal book collection to help form first library; Donates a cow and his desk to meet pledge
Isaac Stiles Hopkins 1884-1888 Emory College alumnus founds the first technology department in Georgia at Emory, and is hired away to be the Georgia Institute of Technology's first president; First three alumni trustees elected
Warren Akin Candler 1888-1898 |
1914-1920 Chancellor
Nicknamed "King Shorty" by students, Emory College alumnus institutes major curriculum change to offer three full four-year courses; Dedicates first separate building devoted to use as a library; Prohibits participation in intercollegiate athletics, notably including football; College becomes financially solvent for the first time; Law and theology become formal programs, and first law degree awarded

1900s

Name
Term
Highlights
Charles E. Dowman 1898-1902 Emory College alumnus raises undergraduate academic standards and introduces electives and athletics requirements; Petitions board to institute a regular course of study for the master of arts degree;
James Edward Dickey 1902-1915 Emory College alumnus serves as last president in Oxford location; Leads the building of a new science hall and gymnasium; Oversees the reestablishment of a law program and the creation of a theology department; Cleans up miscellaneous finances
Franklin N. Parker 1920 Acting President |
Acting Chancellor
Theology dean and faculty member bridges leadership between Warren Akin Candler's chancellorship and young university's new role of president
Harvey Warren Cox 1920-1942 |
1942-1944 Chancellor
Divides undergradute curriculum into "lower" and "upper" levels to enhance specialization; Balances university books, prompting benefactor Asa Candler to donate more money and land; Launches "$10 Million in 10 Years" campaign derailed by Great Depression; Faculty pledge solidarity amid pay cuts during Depression; Emory opens Junior College at Oxford (now Oxford College) and a junior college in Valdosta (now closed); Emory appears for the first time on the Association of American Universities' list of recognized universities; Phi Beta Kappa installs a chapter on campus
Goodrich C. White 1942-1957 |
1957-1979 Chancellor
Emory College alumnus serves as college and graduate school dean in rise to presidency; More than doubles university financial assets, faculty ranks and college enrollment; More than a dozen new buildings as well as temporary G.I. housing; University awards first doctorate and officially becomes coed; Emory Clinic opens; Emory acquires the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center from Yale University; Federal government decides to locate Centers for Disease Control next to Emory
S. Walter Martin 1957-1962 College reinstates the bachelor of science degree and drops "lower" and "upper" curriculum division; Emory acquires Lullwater Estate and Callanwolde from Candler families; Charles Howard Candler Professorships established
"The Troika" 1962-1963 Three leaders -- Henry Bowden, chair of the board; Judson Ward, executive vice president and dean of the faculties; and Chancellor Goodrich C. White -- jointly run the university; University successfully sues to overturn state law impeding Emory's enrollment of black students, and the first African American student enrolls
Sanford Soverhill Atwood 1963-1977 Doubles the size of the faculty, increases the student body by 63 percent to 7,334, and breaks ground for $150 million in construction (three times the cost of all construction at Emory to 1963); Raises $35 million, the largest fund-raising campaign in the history of Georgia to that point; "Is God dead?" controversy involving Emory professor's academic freedom roils campus after Time magazine story
James T. Laney 1977-1993 Theology school dean rises to presidency in time to receive $105 million Woodruff Gift, the largest donation to a university at the time
Billy E. Frye 1993-1994 Interim President |
1997-2001 Chancellor
Emory PhD graduate and university's first provost bridges leadership between Jim Laney's resignation to become U.S. Ambassador to South Korea and William Chase's presidency

2000s

Name
Term
Highlights
William M. Chace 1994-2003 Emory invited to join Association of American Universities (AAU); University invests some $1 billion in new buildings and significant renovations, including Clairmont Campus and first LEED-certified construction; Total sponsored research more than doubles to $277 million
James W. Wagner 2003-2016 Campaign Emory raises $1.69 billion; Leads initiatives for 10-year strategic plan and university vision statement
Claire E. Sterk 2016-present First female president of the university