Nassen Yousef, Contributing

Gary Hauk (91G), the first official University historian since 2015, will retire on Jan. 1, 2020, ending his 34-year stint at Emory. Over his tenure, he has served as assistant secretary of the University, vice president and senior adviser to the president.

During his time as historian, Hauk taught a course called “The History of Emory,,” maintained a blog examining Emory’s history and published four books and several essays on the topic. 

In 1999, Hauk published his first book, “A Legacy of Heart and Mind: Emory Since 1836.” His latest book, “Emory as Place,” was published on Aug. 1, 2019.

After writing his first book, Hauk felt encouraged to delve further into Emory’s history.

“When you produce a book about something, everybody perceives you to be the expert,” Hauk said. “I began to get a lot of questions … and I felt like I had to go find out the answer to these questions.”

Hauk came to Emory in 1983 as a graduate student to pursue a doctorate degree in religion through the Laney Graduate School Ethics and Society program. Two years into his studies, Hauk began working full time as a reference librarian at the Pitts Theology Library. 

Following his studies, he remained on campus to serve in a variety of roles in the office of president. When Hauk was appointed as University historian, he continued to work as deputy to the president. He chose to leave the office of the president following University President Claire E. Sterk’s appointment in 2016, and transitioned full time to the role of historian.

While juggling both roles, Hauk created the Traditions and History Committee, which oversaw the observance of Emory’s 175-year anniversary in 2011, installed historical markers for many University buildings and named several streams on campus. The committee also appointed Emory’s first oral historian, leading to the creation of the Emory Oral History Program, which records the experience of the Emory community by conducting individual interviews with students.

Hauk said he does not know whether he will have a formal successor as historian, but expressed hope that his work be continued.

“I think there are enough people on the campus who have sufficient interest in the history of the institution to want to contribute to the perpetuation of that study,” Hauk said.

Despite his retirement, Hauk said he intends to continue studying and writing about Emory. He has been commissioned by the Emory School of Law to write a history of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, which will celebrate its 40-year anniversary this year.

Hauk emphasized that his role as historian was not only to archive the University’s past, but also to communicate it.

“It takes another step to look at that material and convey the stories that are buried in all of those boxes of paper,” Hauk said. “I think it’s really critical for the life of the institution.”

Hauk also called upon students to further the study of Emory’s institutional history.

“The more we know about where we come from — it’s kind of a cliche —  the more of a sense we have about where we might be able to go,” Hauk said. “I think there would be a great deal more pride in the institution if students knew more about where Emory has come from.”