Oxford College Dean of Campus Life Joseph Moon will deliver the keynote address at Oxford’s 178th Commencement, Emory News Center announced on March 30. Oxford’s Commencement practices will take place on May 6. Moon will retire on Aug. 1 after more than 40 years of working at both Emory University’s Atlanta and Oxford campuses.

“We are a close-knit campus community, and we owe much of that experience to Dean Moon’s leadership,” interim Dean of Oxford Kenneth Carter announced in an email to Oxford students. “He also is our resident keeper of Oxford stories, tall tales, and traditions. No one knows more about the history of Oxford, and I know that we all will look forward to hearing his final words of wisdom in May.”

The Oxford class of 2023 is also hosting a retirement celebration on April 28 to honor Moon, along with Oxford Dean of the Library Kitty McNeill, who is retiring after 38 years. The event will feature a video displaying messages from many students Moon worked with over the past three decades at Oxford as a way to “tilt the scales toward the sweet side.”

Moon joined Emory in 1978 as assistant dean for men — a title that later changed to assistant dean for campus life and director of residence life — on the Atlanta campus, where he helped launch the University’s first-year council, the Sophomore Advisor program and the Songfest tradition. Then, he moved to the Oxford campus as Dean of Campus Life, a position he has held for more than 35 years.

Based on his years at Oxford, Moon said that he believes Emory’s institutional values are consistent with his own beliefs — specifically, he values making connections among students, which is crucial to create a comfortable environment.

Moon added that a student’s first year in college is an important time in their life because they are away from home for the first time and taking courses and having ideas they have not had before.

“At this age group, at this time in one’s life, is a really important time to make good friendships,” Moon said. “That’s harder when you’re an adult — it’s harder when you are in a business, in your company. College is the only time in your life really that you’re residentially around essentially everyone your age, it’ll never happen again.”

Oxford College Dean of Campus Life Joseph Moon will deliver the keynote address at Oxford’s 178th Commencement. Courtesy of Emory University

Compared to the Atlanta campus, Moon said that Oxford campus is a small student community. Oxford has a total of 1,067 students, with only 429 first-year students, while Emory College of Arts and Sciences has 5,900 total students. Moon also said that he enjoys being in a small school, where students can more easily foster closer relationships with others. Moon added that he values when students learn more about different races, religions and nationalities.

“In recent years, we’ve been able to grow the student body,” Moon added. “We’ve been really pushing at issues of diversity and equity … we’ve added a lot of international students as a percentage.”

Anya Kasubhai (22Ox, 24C), who worked with Moon as president of Oxford’s Student Activities Council, said that Moon has made Oxford a home for its students.

“He was a very open person who really cared about the students,” Kasubhai said. “He truly, truly wanted to hear our opinion and wanted to support us throughout everything. So I just think he’s a wonderful person and is very deserving.”

Kasubhai also noted that Moon would always step up to be a supporter of student initiatives, going above his role to support Oxford campus life.

“He puts Oxford always first,” Kasubhai added.

Moon said he appreciates the time he spent with first-year students and their parents during campus visits and orientation.

“I look forward to the excitement and the nervousness of new students coming to college, watching the way the second year students welcome them and embrace them here,” Moon said.

Additionally, Moon said that one of his greatest difficulties during his time at Emory was assisting students who were having a hard time, undergoing depression, physical health issues and academic hardships. Despite Emory’s mental health and academic resources, as well as support in individual residence halls, there are still students who struggle with issues like finances and family problems.

“One thing I appreciate about Oxford is we really do try to support students,” Moon said. “A lot of people that want to succeed and want students to thrive and they want the students having a difficult time. There’s somebody here spending time with their health trying to solve it.”

Moon also strived to establish an institution where professors are experts in their field and know their subject matter well.

A good professor should have both expertise and understanding in a field, as well as “real love” and “genuine interest” in students, Moon said. Instructors should like their field of study and feel that they are doing important work. Moon notes that students can tell when professors genuinely enjoy their work.

“The best teachers are able to really use their intellectual gifts and their scholarly gifts to share that with students at the right place,” Moon added. “No matter whether you’re brilliant students or you’re just struggling to be in that class, and you leave that course knowing more than you enter the door in another class, I would hope that you have some appreciation for that.”

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Ashley Zhu (she/her) (25C) is from Dallas, Texas, majoring in biology and minoring in sociology. She is the vice president of recruitment for the Residence Hall Association, a sophomore advisor for Raoul Hall and a staff writer for the Emory Undergraduate Medical Review. She is involved in cell biology research at the Pallas Lab and is a BIOL 141 Learning Assistant. Zhu enjoys FaceTiming her dog, stalking people's Spotify playlists and listening to classical music in her free time.