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President Wagner offers year-end message to the Emory community

Emory President James Wagner sent this message via email to the Emory community on April 26.

Dear Emory Community,

This customary end-of-year letter offers me a chance to send a thank-you note for your kind celebration of Debbie and me during last Thursday’s block party. Thank you indeed! Your presence and good wishes meant a great deal and will be a lasting memory.

It is good and right to celebrate, it seems to me, in ways that permit us to enjoy one another and acknowledge so many things for which we can be grateful. Doing so does not ignore the challenges to which we are also called, whether in response to disasters like the devastation in Ecuador, or inhumanity that drives families to seek refuge with European hosts, or our ongoing struggles right here at home to secure “liberty and justice for all.” In fact, it may be that the practices of genuine community, including an insistence on celebration, can provide us with greater collective strength to address our challenges more successfully. In his poem “A Brief for the Defense,” Jack Gilbert writes, “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” So let us celebrate and do so gladly.

In less than two weeks, we will host our annual Commencement celebration. Nearly 15,000 will gather on the grand lawn of the Quadrangle to acknowledge the achievements of our graduates, to honor them and the faculty, staff, family, and friends who have contributed to their academic success. Moving on from that celebration our graduates can gladly open the next chapters of their lives, pursuing the opportunities and conquering the challenges of days ahead. Great congratulations and very best wishes to all of our graduates.

For those of you remaining behind, either anticipating your own future graduation or contributing through your careers to the noble mission of this place — to create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity — please accept my thanks and, in your own way, celebrate the end of another academic year. Make time for yourselves and family to refresh.

As we all reflect on the year behind us, I reflect also. Following this Commencement, I soon will be moving on as well. It has been an immense joy to be in a community committed to excellence in everything we do — teaching, research and scholarship, service, health care, business, and stewardship of our facilities and financial assets. It is a joy also to experience the extraordinary nobility of this community that values what is true and right beyond what is merely expedient or profitable. Emory is a university with a soul, truly endeavoring to be both great and good. It provides fertile soil in which to grow and change and to push for growth and change in the world through service to all of society. I have grown and changed, too, and will forever celebrate that.


Jim Wagner

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