The Stories That Shaped Emory in 2020

From a pandemic, to a new University and U.S. president, to a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement — 2020 was indelibly marked by strife, uncertainty and hope. At Emory and nationwide, students and faculty endured a truncated spring semester and virtual fall semester and a racial reckoning. On campus, Emory Campus Life staff spoke out about an abusive workplace and track athletes aired their grievances with their coaches.

Wheel editors selected the 15 most pivotal stories of the year based on online page views and community impact.

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Emory CFO Estimates $45 Million Net Loss From COVID-19

Emory lost about $45 million in net revenue through Aug. 31, the end of the University’s 2019-2020 fiscal year, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Biden Elected President, Georgia Runoffs to Determine Senate Majority

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the 46th president of the U.S. after winning the state of Pennsylvania, four days after Election Day. The delay was largely attributed to the high volume of mail-in ballots as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

UT Austin President Greg Fenves to Become Next President of Emory

Emory’s Board of Trustees announced on April 7 that Gregory L. Fenves would serve as the 21st president of the University beginning in August.

Students Call For Defunding, Disarmament of Emory Police Department

Amid nationwide protests and calls for systemic change over the police killings of Black civilians, Black Emory students and organizations denounced the Emory Police Department, demanding the University disarm and defund EPD. 

‘A Miserable Life’: Campus Service Employees Allege Widespread Mistreatment, Abuse

Current and former employees of Emory Campus Services, who oversee building and campus upkeep, alleged the department’s leadership fosters a toxic environment marked by rampant verbal abuse and exhaustion, as well as racist and misogynistic practices.

Emory Healthcare Administers First COVID-19 Vaccines to Frontline Workers

Emory Healthcare vaccinated its first employee against COVID-19 on Dec. 17 after receiving its first shipment of the vaccine that morning. It marked the beginning of Phase 1 vaccinations for the University, which will include health care workers and long-term care residents.

38 Cross Country/Track & Field Members Leave Team Amid Culture Shift

Track athletes described an environment of compounding pressure, isolation and insensitivity when asked about why they decided to leave the team. 

This Fall, First-Years Disregarded the Community Compact and Went to Bars

While some students followed COVID-19 safety precautions during social outings, Uber drivers reported a vastly different reality for other students who frequented bars and clubs.

Emory Village’s Rise-n-Dine Closes After 13 Years

After 13 years in Emory Village, Rise-n-Dine, a breakfast and lunch restaurant, announced on Oct. 30 through their Instagram that it will close permanently as a result of COVID-19 related financial losses. Other restaurants in Village, like Lucky’s Burger and Brew, also shut their doors earlier in the year.

Emory Announces In-Person 2021 Commencement

Emory will hold a modified in-person spring 2021 Commencement ceremony at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta, a Nov. 20 email from University President Gregory L. Fenves announced.

Resident Advisors Overwhelmed by Newfound Obligations

Less than two weeks into a fully online fall semester, numerous resident advisors reported being exasperated: students blatantly ignored safety regulations and RAs were unprepared to enforce them.

College to Implement Race and Ethnicity General Education Requirement in Fall 2021

The College voted to mandate a race and ethnicity course starting Fall 2021, nearly five years after Black Students at Emory demanded the creation of a “General Education Requirement that focuses specifically on the histories and experiences of people of color.” 

Emory Reverses Course on Fall Plan, Significantly Reduces Campus Capacity

As coronavirus cases broke record highs in the summer, University President Claire Sterk and President-elect Greg Fenves announced via a campus-wide email on July 17 that only a select group of students will live on campus and nearly all classes will move online. 

Inhale, Exhale: How an Inhaler Became a Pop-Up Art Gallery

This inhaler art exhibit outside of the Emory Student Center began as a joke in a GroupMe chat named “real eagles ONLY,” an informal, student-created group chat full of chaos, memes and nearly 900 first-year students.

Emory to Implement Optional Standardized Test Policy for Class of 2025

In June, the University joined a number of other universities including Harvard (Mass.), Columbia (N.Y.) and Rice (Texas), in transitioning to a test-optional admissions cycle for the 2020-21 academic year. 


Stories compiled by Ulia Ahn and Matthew Somekh. Page designed by Madison Bober.