Emory University President Gregory Fenves highlighted the One Emory project, a 2018 initiative that aims to “make Emory the first choice for undergraduate students,” in a speech during the annual Charter Week Gathering.

The gathering, held on Feb. 7, marked the second day of Charter Week, which commemorates the Emory’s Board of Trustees first meeting on Feb. 6, 1837, two months after the establishment of Emory College in Oxford, Ga.

In his address, Fenves noted that the goal of enhancing Emory’s prominence is already in progress, seen through recent increases in applications and diversity rates for both Oxford and Atlanta campuses. He said he plans to add elements of “thriving healthcare” and “commitment to our people” to the original four-part One Emory plan.

Another goal of One Emory is for the University to provide resources that increase accessibility to both undergraduates and students at Emory’s graduate schools. Fenves highlighted constructing a new on-campus graduate housing complex as an example.

Fenves reinforced that Emory’s mission is to “create, preserve, teach and apply knowledge in the service of humanity.”

“Since joining Emory, I’ve listened to the views and perspectives of faculty, staff or students, and many alumni, about their aspirations for the future of our university,” Fenves said.

Fenves quoted Emory’s motto, “the wise heart seeks knowledge,” and listed a multitude of ideas that makes Emory unique, such as “create,” “service,” “humanity” and “heart.”

“These words say something else,” Fenves said. “They capture our ethos and the reasons why we preserve this precious knowledge.

University President Greg Fenves discusses Emory’s future initiatives during the 2023 Charter Week Gathering. (Laura Wang/Contributing Photographer)

Fenves added how these goals relate to the 2O36 project, which launched in fall 2021 and encompasses three main ideas: ensuring that students flourish, attracting and retaining eminent faculty and championing influential research.

L“The 2O36 campaign is raising the resources to make Emory’s success a reality,” Fenves said. “Thanks to the many generous donors, the fundraising campaign has brought in $3.2 billion out of our $4 billion goal.”

Fenves added that Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Ravi Bellamkonda is leading increased “interdisciplinary collaboration” efforts. Bellamkonda plans to announce the Arts and Humanist Inquiry initiative and increase the annual budget for University research from $790 million to $1 billion.

“Being innovative and inventive isn’t an aspiration,” Fenves said. “It is an expectation at Emory.”

This year’s events ran from Feb. 6 to Feb. 11 and included a variety of lectures, award ceremonies and seminars, including the Emory Public Interest Committee Inspiration Awards and a poetry reading by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón.

Megan Yang (19Ox, 22C) said she was intrigued by Fenves’ speech and liked that Fenves included Atlanta’s history and working with local businesses as a part of Emory’s strategy.

William Bodnar (08N), a nurse at the Emory University Hospital and a fundraiser volunteer at the Michael C. Carlos Museum, said that he came to the speech to gain “perspective” on Emory’s initiatives. “I’m still involved in the arts at Emory, I thought it was interesting how there are initiatives to connect Midtown artists and residents with the Atlanta Center and Emory”.

Bodnar added that as someone personally involved with the arts, it was interesting for him to see Emory’s initiatives aiming to connect Midtown artists and residents with the Atlanta Media Center.

Senior Web Designer for Communications and Marketing Amon Macbeth said that the speech elucidated Fenves’ vision for Emory.

“What stood out to me most was his new vision for success at this school,” Macbeth said. “I’ve only been here five months and so it was great to get a better idea of what his plan is and how it will affect the school.”

A handful of students criticizing Emory’s connections to Cop City — the Atlanta Police Foundation’s $90 million proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Center that would be located 15 minutes away from Emory — protested at the Charter Week Gathering. They distributed fliers to audience members before and after Fenves’ speech. The protestors said that Fenves and former University President Claire Sterk are involved in committees that fund and support Cop City.  

The fliers spelled out “Emory has blood on its hands” in bright red letters, referencing the police killing of Manuel Terán on Jan. 18 while they were protesting Cop City. An investigation is currently underway involving the details of their death.

Fenves is currently a member of the Atlanta Committee for Progress Board, an organization that funds the construction of Cop City through “philanthropic and corporate donations.”

According to an open letter calling for cardiothoracic surgeon Douglas Murphy’s resignation from the Atlanta Police Foundation Board of Trustees, Sterk no longer serves on the Atlanta Police Foundation board.

Mads Gordon (24C), who briefly attended the Charter Week Gathering and advocates against the construction of Cop City , said that Cop City would be “detrimental” to Atlanta residents.

“In September 2021, after announcing the facility, Atlanta City Council received phone calls from residents giving thoughts on the development,” Gordon added. “An estimated 70% of comments opposed the construction of Cop City, even though the APF is proceeding as normal.”

“Facilitated policing hurts marginalized communities,” Gordon said. “Atlanta has a large population of people of color, unhoused people and types of people police are violent towards.”

Gordon added that Fenves’ goals for Emory do not align with his actions.

“There is a clear misalignment between the goal of integrating Emory with the broader community while simultaneously supporting something that will disproportionately harm certain members of the Atlanta community,” Gordon said.

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Amelia Dasari (she/her) (26C) is from Sharon, Massachusetts, majoring in neuroscience and behavioral biology on the pre-medical track. Outside of the Wheel, Dasari is involved with undergraduate research, Best Buddies, EUMR, RHA, and rez-life. In her free time she enjoys playing the violin, exploring coffee shops, and reading mysteries (especially Agatha Christie).