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Emory president welcomes faculty, students, staff to new academic year

In a message to the Emory community, President Claire E. Sterk notes that the liberal arts "inspire us to confront the problems and tragedies we encounter with integrity, courage and imagination."

Emory President Claire E. Sterk sent the following welcome message to the university community on Sept. 5, 2017.

Dear Members of the Emory Community:

As we enter a new academic year, I want to extend a heartfelt welcome to all our faculty, students, and staff. For some, this time of year marks a new start. For others, it feels like a restart after a summer break; and for still others, it’s a reminder that we’re entering a season of renewed and continued engagement. The recognition that Emory is well positioned for today and for the future gives me confidence. Our teaching, research, health care, and other forms of service allow us to seek solutions to society’s most difficult challenges.

Just a year ago, I committed that as a community we would challenge each other to do more, to push boundaries, and to refuse to settle for anything less than our collective best. Over the course of this past year, that commitment has taken on new meaning and relevance.

Recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and their aftermath have reminded us that we commit to Emory’s mission “to create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity” for a reason. The decision to participate in a university community carries moral weight. In choosing Emory, we commit ourselves to certain core values: to equality and inclusion, to the belief that knowledge is worth pursuing for its own sake, to the principles of democratic citizenship, and to the conviction that together we can—and should—seek a more just and compassionate world.

Learning remains the foundation of our shared commitment. In particular, the skills of critical thinking, effective communication, collaboration, and teamwork empower us to become reflective citizens and leaders. The liberal arts teach us not just “what to do,” to borrow from novelist and essayist Mark Slouka, but also “how to be.” And they inspire us to confront the problems and tragedies we encounter with integrity, courage, and imagination.

I see this inspiration every day at Emory within and across academic disciplines: in our pursuit of pathbreaking innovation, in our compassionate delivery of high-quality health care, and in the unending search for discovery—all with a commitment to advancing our society. Across Emory, you will find dedicated, compassionate, and talented individuals working to make our community and world a better place. And just in the past few days, many of you have stepped forward, ready to assist our friends and fellow citizens affected by flooding in Texas and Louisiana.

Let’s continue to inspire and challenge one another. It will not always be easy, and we will not always agree; but we will work together and remain committed to our purpose. I relish what we will be able to accomplish as a community. And I know that even when we do disagree, we will continue to listen to and respect each other.

Together, we possess the energy, the dedication, and the sense of shared mission to make a difference well beyond our community—beyond what we can currently imagine. These are times of uncertainty and turmoil for many across the globe, including close to home. Let’s remain true to our mission and core values.


Claire E. Sterk

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