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Pursuit of Excellence: Celebrating Emory's Achievements from 1995-2003

William M. Chace
b. 1938

President 1995-2003

William M. ChaceTwo milestones in the recent history of Emory University occurred in April 1995. William Chace, who assumed leadership of the university in July 1994, was inaugurated as Emory's 18th president on April 5. Then, only three weeks later, Emory's reputation received a considerable boost when the University was invited to join the Association of American Universities (AAU), an elite group of sixty-two research universities in the U.S. and Canada.

At the time of the announcement, the AAU president described Emory as "making major contributions to the advancement of the nation's research base and to the education of the nation's next generation of scientists, scholars, and teachers." He added that Emory was well positioned to strengthen its standing in the years ahead.

Few people, however, could have predicted just how explosive Emory's growth would be in the years of Bill Chace's tenure. In fact, he would preside over one of the fastest-growing research universities in the country. The mathematics of this growth tell onlypart of the story. Total sponsored research increased by almost $160 million—from $118 million to $277 million—between 1994 and 2002. In the School of Medicine alone, federal and other research awards in 2001-02 totaled $228.5 million, including funds received by the medical faculty based at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. The School of Medicine also achieved the fastest rate of growth in National Institutes of Health research funding of any school in the nation over the period 1996-2000. Between 1997 and 2002, research funding at Emory increased by 77 percent.

Another sign of Emory's growth after 1994 was apparent to anyone who strolled across campus, usually to the accompaniment of drills and hammers. Over the course of the Chace years, guided by a comprehensive campus plan completed in 1998, the University invested roughly $1 billion in new buildings and significant renovations. With the addition of new labs, classrooms, and the first stand-alone performing arts center, Emory also created new walkways and communal spaces. As a result of the campus's physical transformation, scholars and students found more opportunities to work more productively together.

Emory also made great strides in becoming one of the "greenest" campuses in the U.S. Just after the new millennium dawned, Emory's Whitehead Biomedical Research Building and its Mathematics and Sciences Center joined a handful of U.S. buildings recognized as environmentally sound by the Leadership in Energy Environmental Design program. In the fall of 2001, Emory was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation for its achievements in developing an environmentally sustainable campus. As President Chace said in the fall of 2002, "Emory is proud of our commitment to a 'green' building program. It is absolutely necessary that major institutions take an environmentally sustainable approach in planning and development given the challenges we all face regarding declining air quality, depletion of natural resources, and traffic congestion."

The 1998 campus master plan transformed an automobile-friendly campus to a healthier, pedestrian-based one. As the design firm Ayers/Saint/Gross wrote in its winning proposal, "The new campus plan must be a call to action for a physical plan that engages the entire University community with its power to reflect and embody the goals, culture, and mission of Emory."

The most dramatic change to occur in Emory's student environment was the completion of the Clairmont Campus during the 2002-03 academic year, after more than two years of construction at a cost of nearly $70 million. The 64-acre residential complex provides a home to 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students, a handful of staff members, and a growing number of faculty. In addition to offering choice accommodations, the Clairmont Campus includes a Student Activity and Academic Center that houses a restaurant, swimming pool, gymnasium, and a variety of classrooms and seminar rooms. This bustling community and its neighboring parking deck (which reduces traffic congestion in the Clifton Corridor) is connected to the main campus by alternatively fueled shuttle buses. Also housed within the complex are the Clifton School, which provides childcare for the Emory community; the Hope Lodge for cancer patients and their families; the Mason Guest House for organ transplant recipients and their families; and the Autism Resource Center, the Georgia resource providing a comprehensive continuum of services for children and adults with autism and their families.

Under Chace's watch, Emory continued to encourage diversity among its student populations and to promote the importance of affirmative action. The policy of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation—passed during the Laney administration—became the rationale for extending benefits to same-sex partners of employees. Emory was successful in assembling a diverse student body and creating an atmosphere of variety and inclusiveness while emphasizing intellectual achievement. The University at one point had the highest percentage of African-American students among AAU institutions.

As President Chace prophetically stated in his 1996 Emory University annual report: "Emory is stronger now than it was ten years ago. By every index of quality—strength of new faculty and administrative appointments, academic quality of entering students, volume of sponsored research, racial and gender diversity of the faculty and of the student population, magnitude of the endowment, national reputation—we have been proceeding in the right ways." The words were still relevant upon President Chace's retirement in 2003.

Source: Emory Office of Strategic Development, Hal Jacobs, editor.


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