Emory's Leaders and Their Legacies


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


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


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