Emory president issues statement on Schwartz Center name

Emory Report | March 16, 2021

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Emory President Gregory L. Fenves has issued the following statement about the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. The center, which opened in 2003, was made possible by an $8 million gift from Donna and Marvin Schwartz, along with gifts from hundreds of individuals as well as numerous corporations and foundations. Donna Schwartz is a 1962 graduate of Emory College of Arts and Sciences.

The Student Government Association and College Council recently passed resolutions calling for the center to be renamed because Marvin Schwartz funded a campus speech last year on “Diversity in Higher Education” by Heather Mac Donald, a conservative political commentator and author of “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture.” The Jan. 28, 2020, event was sponsored by the Emory College Republicans and Emory Law’s chapter of the Federalist Society.

Statement by President Fenves 

A number of Emory students have requested that the university change the name of the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center. The reason for this request is Mr. Schwartz’s role as sponsor of a speaker who addressed our campus community last year. The speaker was invited by two student organizations at Emory. Though we recognize that the speaker’s visit angered and alienated members of our community, it was an event that was consistent with Emory policy and our commitment to the free expression of ideas. It is important to understand that speech presented on campus does not represent endorsement by the university.

Emory’s commitment to free expression compels us to listen, learn, debate, and channel our collective energy into service, creativity, and all manner of intellectual pursuits. Taking action against an individual for speaking or inviting someone to speak with whom we disagree would undermine the freedom to express, share, challenge, and discover, which is the bedrock of what a university does.

Finally, in my short time at Emory, I have seen how Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz are devoted to Emory and have been generous benefactors for the performing arts, recognizing that artistic expression enriches the lives of students, faculty, staff, and the community in which we live.