Voices for Equity and Justice
40 Under Forty
A NEW PRESIDENT IN A CHANGED WORLD GREGORY L. FENVES STANDS READY TO LEAD EMORY THROUGH UNCHARTED TERRITORY
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Emory Magazine VOL. 96 NO. 1
The Return to the (Not) New Normal Catch a glimpse at what everyday life has looked like for students, faculty, and staff on campus so far this fall.
Peace Corps + Pandemic COVID-19 led to an unprecedented evacuation of Peace Corps volunteers, including nearly two dozen Emory alumni. What’s next for the agency and its humanitarian efforts?
Black leaders at Emory speak out about this pivotal moment of protest and social unrest, and share how we as a society and a university community can move forward to extinguishing systemic racism.
Vaccination Exploration How Emory got involved in developing and testing vaccines, from work on HIV-AIDS efforts decades ago to participating in Phase 3 COVID-19 trials today.
40 Under Forty Meet the latest group of alumni leaders and innovators who are striving to make the world a better place.
Voices for Equity and Justice
Right Time. Right Place. Right Leader. Gregory L. Fenves brings an extraordinary set of skills and experiences to lead Emory through extraordinary times as its twenty-first president.
Q&A: First 100 Days President Fenves shares his thoughts about what he’s learned during his first several weeks on campus, as well as a look at Emory’s near future.
Managing Editor Roger Slavens
Art Director Elizabeth Hautau Karp
Executive Director of Content Jennifer F. Checkner
Creative Director, Publications Peta Westmaas Photography Kay Hinton Stephen Nowland
40 UNDER FORTY
TRIBUTE TO R. RANDALL ROLLINS
Contributors Susan Carini, Carol Clark, Elizabeth Durel, April Hunt, Shannon McCaffrey, Martha McKenzie, Steven Boyd Saum, Senta Scarborough, Kimber Williams
Copy Editor Jane Howell
CHRONICLING THE HUMAN CONDITION
Associate Vice President, Creative Dave B. Holston
Production Manager Stuart Turner Senior Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs David Sandor University President Gergory L. Fenves
Emory University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action employer fully committed to achieving a diverse workforce and complies with all applicable Federal and Georgia State laws, regulations, and executive orders regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action in its programs and activities. Emory University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, genetic information, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and veteran’s status. Inquiries should be directed to the Department of Equity and Inclusion, 201 Dowman Drive, Administration Bldg, Atlanta, GA 30322. Telephone: 404.727.9867 (V) | 404.712.2049 (TDD).
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‘BURIED TRUTHS’ RETURNS
10 TEACHING LIGHTS, ZOOM, ACTION! 11 RANKINGS BEST COLLEGES
6 MORE ONLINE AT EMORY.EDU/MAGAZINE EXPANDED PHOTO ESSAY RETURN TO CAMPUS See more images of what the new (not) normal at Emory looks like.
VIDEO VOICES FOR EQUITY AND JUSTICE Pulitzer–Prize winnerJericho Brown reads his poem “Bullet Points.”
EMORY MAGAZINE (ISSN 00136727) is published quarterly by Emory’s Division of Communications and Public Affairs. Nonprofit postage paid at 3900 Crown Rd. SE, Atlanta, Georgia, 30304; and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Advancement and Alumni Engagement Office of Data Management,, 1762 Clifton Road, Suite 1400, Atlanta, Georgia 30322. Emory Magazine is distributed free to alumni and friends of the university. Address changes may be emailed to eurec@emory. edu or sent to the Advancement and Alumni Engagement Office of Data Management, 1762 Clifton Road, Suite 1400, Atlanta, Georgia 30322. If you are an individual with a disability and wish to acquire this publication in an alternative format, please contact Roger Slavens (address above). No. 20-EU-EMAG-0053 ©2020, a publication of the Division of Communications and Public Affairs. The comments and opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily represent those of Emory University or the staff of Emory Magazine.
ON THE COVER PHOTO BY KAY HINTON
THE BIG PICT U R E
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF OXFORD
S OC IAL C IR C LES Chalk circles created on the Quad at Oxford College help students and faculty practice social distancing while learning or just hanging out together outside. They were just one of many creative ideas that helped the Emory community adapt in returning to campus in the new age of COVID-19.
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early every professor and instructor in Emory College of Arts and Sciences and Oxford College became a student this summer. Since June, more than eight-hundred faculty members have completed intensive training in online course design and teaching, focused on developing new and creative ways to teach in a remote format so that every class includes the highly engaged, student-focused experience expected with an Emory education. With the continued spread of COVID-19 limiting how many students returned to campus this fall, the faculty’s preparation and planning are giving students access to the same exceptional scholars and liberal arts education that remain at the core of Emory’s values and mission. “We all know we are in a unique situation, so we had to be focused and think as a community,” says Douglas Mulford, a senior lecturer in Emory College’s Department of Chemistry. “We have spent, and are spending, incredible amounts of time thinking about how to do this and do this well because we are fully invested in our students.” Creativity, flexibility, and innovation have been top-ofmind for Emory faculty, from finding new ways to leverage Emory Libraries’ exceptional archives to providing students with digital versions of primary documents to figuring out how to bring a hands-on lab experience to students’ homes. USING CREATIVITY TO COPE WITH CHANGE As professors have adapted their courses to remote formats, many have taken steps to help students cope with not only the change in learning environments, but also the vast changes and challenges in the broader world. Judith Miller, associate professor of history in Emory College, has helped many students over the years develop 4
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their thinking skills with her favorite active learning assignment: a library scavenger hunt. She expects her digital version will work just as well this semester, in part because of the stellar librarians and information experts in Emory’s libraries. And her own active learning—reading up on best practices for remote instruction, connecting with other professors and creating a shared tip sheet—helped her revamp her course on the French Revolution. Building from current headlines with Black Lives Matters protests, Miller is focusing on the trigger points of protests with a look at the factors that turn some into enduring movements. “I hope our students know that faculty will have their backs as they are building a lot of skills on coping with change,” she says. “We’re developing ours, too.” Eric Solomon, visiting assistant professor of English and American studies at Oxford College, is using instructional design techniques inspired by his summer training to invigorate his American Studies course. “Our course explores ten social movements, with the Black Freedom Struggle and the #BLM movement at the centerpiece of our online semester’s intersectional journey,” Solomon says. “A few sessions in, I know students are eager to have the difficult conversations and ready to meet this moment.” Using tools like Canvas Studio, Final Cut, and other platforms, Solomon has filmed and edited brief “movie trailers” to help connect disparate ideas as the class progresses through the course’s ten movements, as well as digital collages as visual guides for each movement. “In an interdisciplinary course rooted in critical thinking, it can be hard to replicate the exchange of ideas and ‘connect all the dots’ in an online forum,” he says. “My hope is that my use of images and video serves both as a visual complement to our semester reading
PHOTOGRAPHY GETTY IMAGES
This summer, Emory faculty members found themselves students once again while learning how to make online teaching more dynamic.
and an entertaining reflective resource to the world works, rather than just drilling help students engage with course themes facts and formulas. and connect with one another.” To continue that approach, students in 100-level courses this fall are receiving LAB EXPERIMENTS GO ONLINE home lab kits to keep them on pace with the needed learning, says Mulford, who Being intentional in the creation of utilized the kits in a lab course he taught online courses also reveals new possithis summer. bilities. They are Meanwhile, especially noticethe more than able in lab-based four-hundred stuscience courses and dents enrolled in in performance Mulford’s Advanced and studio classes, Reactivity Lab such as music course sections this and dance—which fall will work in would seem teams in a virtual especially difficult lab (work usually to teach from a performed solo) to —Eric Solomon distance. encourage more The spring connections. First, they’ll watch and semester showed one way the science answer questions during short videos of keeps going, when undergraduates in Mulford conducting experiments in his biology labs logged into online portals typical theatrical style. and created their own projects to “Too much of what we think of as continue their work. A large part of the online education is dull videos. Mine lab environment is working alongside aren’t so dull,” Mulford says. fellow researchers, and building the Such personalization is possible community found in research labs across because faculty teach courses of their Emory’s campuses. Oxford College’s Emily McLean, assis- own design, giving them wide latitude in how they, as topic experts, work. tant professor of biology, injected that Whether teaching traditional aspect of lab life into her Advanced Topics courses, labs, or even artistic perforin Molecular Biology course this semesmances, Emory faculty are committed ter with the help of a program called FlipGrid. This video platform allowed her to continuing their lessons on remote students to immediately begin getting to learning beyond this semester, says Ken know one another through self-recorded Carter, Oxford’s Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology. Carter used the videos. Because the platform allows for relatively new Oxford College Online asynchronous video communication, Teaching (OCOT) program to help reforinternational students worked virtually mat the Adult Psychopathology course he alongside other students in developing is currently teaching. that sense of community they normally The training he received “transfind in a physical laboratory. formed the way I think about the tools Three years ago, Emory overhauled its undergraduate chemistry curriculum and resources for helping my students succeed,” Carter says. “It was exactly what for both campuses, offering a more I needed to start to prepare for remote holistic, hands-on approach aimed at teaching, but I am certain I’ll use what I giving even introductory students an learned for years.”— April Hunt understanding of the chemistry of how
My hope is that my use of images and video . . . help students engage with course themes and connect with one another.
I LLU S TR ATI ON G E T T Y I M AG E S
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STORING THE SUN’S POWER Emory scientists are searching for a way to convert sunlight into storable and transportable fuels as part of a multi-institutional research group receiving a $40 million grant from the US Department of Energy. The highly competitive five-year grant was awarded to the lead institution, the University of North Carolina’s Center for Hybrid Approaches in Solar Energy to Liquid Fuels (CHASE). Tianquan “Tim” Lian, Emory’s William Henry Emerson Professor of Chemistry, will serve as the coordinator for the “Surface Characterization and Dynamics” portion of the project. “Advancing solar fuels science and technology is one of the most important scientific endeavors of today,” Lian says.
ACTIVIST ARCHIVES ACQUIRED Emory University has acquired the personal papers of Black Panther Party member, activist, and retired Emory Law faculty member Kathleen Cleaver. The papers, which will reside at Emory’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, span Cleaver's career and life as an activist, particularly as a member of the Black Panther Party, and include personal and professional correspondence, books, and photographs, as well as audiovisual and born-digital material. Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor and chair of Emory’s Department of African American Studies, described the news about the Cleaver papers as “incredible.” She is looking forward to getting her classes back in the Rose Library archives once the pandemic restrictions are lifted. “We will learn so much from Kathleen Cleaver’s papers,” Anderson says. “Her archive will help us understand the role of women in a movement and movement-building and in international freedom struggles.”
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SC I E NC E
U N CA N N Y ROBOTS
E M O RY R E S E A R C H E R S E X P L O R E W H Y A ND R O I D S T H AT L O O K T O O M UC H LI K E H U M A N S G I V E U S A N U NE A SY F E E LI N G .
Emory professor of psychology and senior author of the study. “It’s probably one of
the most important questions in psychology. The ability to
perceive the minds of others is the foundation of human relationships.”
The research may help in
unraveling the mechanisms involved in mind-blind-
ness—the inability to distinguish between humans and
machines—such as in cases of extreme autism or some
psychotic disorders, Rochat
says. Coauthors of the study include Yuk Fai Cheong and it having a mind that leads to
RESEMBLE MACHINES—but only up to a certain point. Many
just a one-shot process, it’s a
OFTEN MORE APPEALING TO PEOPLE THAN THOSE THAT
people experience an uneasy feeling in response to robots that
the uncanny valley. Instead of
Daniel Dilks, both associate professors of psychology at Emory.
projecting human qualities
of affinity can plunge into one of repulsion as a robot’s human
cations for both the design of
often see faces in a cloud for
The journal Perception recently published new insights by
how we perceive one another
are nearly lifelike, and yet somehow not quite “right.” The feeling likeness increases, a zone known as “the uncanny valley.”
Emory psychologists into the cognitive mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.
Since the uncanny valley was first described, a common
hypothesis developed to explain it. Known as the mind-per-
ception theory, it proposes that when people see a robot with human-like features, they automatically add a mind to it. A
growing sense that a machine appears to have a mind leads to the creepy feeling, according to this theory.
“We found that the opposite is true,” says Wang Shensheng
14G 19PhD, first author of the new study, who did the work as a
The findings have impli-
robots and for understanding as humans.
“Robots are increasingly
entering the social domain for everything from education to
trying to understand, like our cars or a computer.”
Naming one’s car or
not normally associated with
the standpoint of engineers and psychologists.”
“At the core of this re-
a face,” adds Philippe Rochat,
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morphize machines that we’re
to them is important both from
we perceive them and relate
but the next step of ‘dehumanizing’ it by subtracting the idea of EMORY MAGAZINE
also sometimes anthropo-
imagining that a cloud is an
search is the question of what
instance,” Wang says. “We
health care,” Wang says. “How
graduate student at Emory and recently received a PhD in psy-
chology. “It’s not the first step of attributing a mind to an android
onto objects, is common. “We
we perceive when we look at
animated being, however, is an uncanny feeling, Wang
notes. That led him to hypothesize that something other
than just anthropomorphizing may occur when viewing an android.
PHOTOGRAPHY GETTY IMAGES
ANDROIDS, OR ROBOTS WITH HUMANLIKE FEATURES, ARE
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To tease apart the potential roles of
mind-perception and dehumanization
in the uncanny valley phenomenon, the researchers conducted experiments
focused on the temporal dynamics of
the process. Participants were shown
UNCOVERING A NEW SEASON OF ‘BURIED TRUTHS’
three types of images—human faces, mechanical-looking robot faces, and
android faces that closely resembled
humans—and asked to rate each for perceived animacy or “aliveness.” The exposure times of the images were systemat-
ically manipulated, within milliseconds, as the participants rated their animacy.
The results showed that perceived
animacy decreased significantly as a
function of exposure time for android faces but not for mechanical-looking
robot or human faces. And in android
faces, the perceived animacy drops at between one-hundred and five-hundred milliseconds of viewing time.
That timing is consistent with previous
research showing that people begin to
distinguish between human and artificial
look at the racially charged killing of
after stimulus onset.
Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick,
faces around four-hundred milliseconds
A second set of experiments manip-
ulated both the exposure time and the
amount of detail in the images, ranging from a minimal sketch of the features to a fully blurred image. The results
showed that removing details from the
images of the android faces decreased the perceived animacy along with the perceived uncanniness. I LLU S TR ATI ON G E T T Y I M AG E S
Award-winning podcast takes a close
“The whole process is complicated,
but it happens within the blink of an
eye,” Wang says. “Our results suggest
that at first sight we anthropomorphize an android, but within milliseconds we detect deviations and dehumanize it.
And that drop in perceived animacy likely contributes to the uncanny feeling.” —Carol Clark
FOUND IN TRANSLATION Lisa Dillman, professor of pedagogy in Emory College’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, has been named a finalist for the National Book Award for her literary translation of the Pilar Quintana novel The Bitch. It is the latest recognition for Dillman’s deftness in translating complex Spanish literature into English. She previously won the international Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize in 2018 for her translation of Andrés Barba’s Such Small Hands. Dillman also was honored with the 2016 Best Translated Book Award for her work on Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World. Quintana’s novel tells the story of a troubled Colombian woman who brings home a puppy, only to have it disappear into the jungle. “One of the pleasures— and challenges—of translating this book was attempting to capture the unique symmetry between the cruelty of the natural, canine, and human realms,” Dillman says.
Georgia, earlier this year. Based on the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project course that works to uncover the history of racially motivated murders in the Jim Crow South, the podcast “Buried Truths” has devoted its new season to a high-profile Georgia killing earlier this year. The seven-episode series, produced by public radio station WABE, focuses on the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed a twenty-five-year-old Black man who was pursued by three armed white men near the coastal city of Brunswick. All Season Three episodes were released simultaneously in September. Continued on page 9
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BETTER, FASTER COVID-19 TESTS Emory's School of Medicine, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), and Georgia Tech have received an additional $18.2 million from the National Institutes of Health's Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program to help make millions of accurate and easy-to-use COVID-19 tests available for at-home or other point-of-care use. In addition to the initial $31 million awarded to the team in May, CHOA, Emory, and Georgia Tech have now received a total of $54 million for RADx projects. This past spring, these three institutions were selected to lead the national effort in test validation and verification through the Atlanta Center for Microsystems Engineered Point-of-Care Technologies.
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RESE ARC H
LIGHTING UP DNA LIKE FIREFLIES University chemist finds a novel way to make cellular forces visible on a molecular scale. Almost every biological process
When the florescent DNA pieces dock, they
nique using tools made of luminescent
involves a mechanical component, from are briefly demobilized, showing up as still
mechanical forces of cells at the mo-
ing an immune response. “Understand-
DNA, lit up like fireflies, to visualize the
lecular level. Nature Methods published the work, led by chemists at Emory
who demonstrated their technique on human blood platelets in laboratory experiments.
“Normally, an optical microscope
cannot produce images that resolve objects smaller than the length of a
cell division to blood clotting to mount-
points of light in the microscopy videos.
ing how cells apply forces and sense
the process, then speeded up to show how
of new therapies for many different
ing the molecular-level view of the mechani-
forces may help in the development
disorders,” says Salaita, whose lab is a leader in devising ways to image and
Hours of microscopy video are taken of
the points of light change over time, providcal forces of the cell.
The researchers use a firefly analogy to
map biomechanical forces.
describe the process.
Joshua Brockman 20G and Hanquan
night, and there is a tree that you can’t see
The first authors of the paper,
ZOOMING IN ON CELLULAR FORCES “IS A BIG STEP FORWARD TO UNDERSTANDING THEM.” — Khalid Salaita
Su 20G, did the work as Emory
graduate students in the Salaita lab. Both recently received their doctorates.
The researchers turned
strands of synthetic DNA into molecular tension probes
that contain hidden pockets. The probes are attached to
receptors on a cell’s surface. Free-floating pieces of DNA
“Imagine you’re in a field on a moonless
because it’s pitch black out,” says Brockman, who graduated from the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, a
joint program of Georgia Tech and Emory, and is now a postdoctoral
fellow at Harvard. “For some
reason, fireflies really like that tree. As they land on all the
branches and along the trunk of the tree, you could slowly build up an image of the outline
of the tree. And if you were really patient, you
light wave, which is about five-hundred
tagged with fluorescence serve as
professor of chemistry and senior
DNA whizz about, they create streaks of flies change their landing spots over time.”
nanometers,” says Khalid Salaita, Emory author of the study. “We found a way
to leverage recent advances in optical
imagers. As the unanchored pieces of light in microscopy videos.
When the cell applies force at a
could even detect the branches of the tree
waving in the wind by recording how the fire“It’s extremely challenging to image the
forces of a living cell at a high resolution,”
imaging along with our molecular DNA
particular receptor site, the attached
nanometers. That resolution is akin
pockets to open and release tendrils
postdoctoral fellow in the Salaita lab. “A big
free-floating pieces of DNA are engi-
interfere with the normal behavior or health
sensors to capture forces at twenty-five to being on the moon and seeing the
ripples caused by raindrops hitting the surface of a lake on the Earth.” 8
says Su, who graduated from Emory’s
probes stretch out causing their hidden Department of Chemistry and is now a of DNA that are stored inside. The
advantage of our technique is that it doesn’t
neered to dock onto these DNA tendrils. of a cell.”
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PHOTOGRAPHY GETTY IMAGES
Scientists have developed a new tech-
Another advantage, he adds, is that DNA
bases of A, G, T, and C, which naturally bind to one another in particular ways, can be engi-
neered within the probe-and-imaging system
to control specificity and map multiple forces at one time within a cell.
“Ultimately, we may be able to link various
mechanical activities of a cell to specific proteins or to other parts of cellular machinery,” Brock-
man says. “That may allow us to determine how
to alter the cell to change and control its forces.”
By using the technique to image and map the
mechanical forces of platelets, the cells that control blood clotting at the site of a
wound, the researchers discovered that platelets have a concentrated core of mechanical tension
and a thin rim that continuously
contracts. “We couldn’t see this
pattern before, but now we have
a crisp image of it,” Salaita says.
“How do these mechanical forces
control thrombosis and coagulation? We’d
like to study them more to see if they could serve as a way to predict a clotting disorder.”
Just as increasingly high-powered tele-
scopes allow us to discover planets, stars, and the forces of the universe, higher-powered
microscopy allows us to make discoveries about our own biology. PHOTOGRAPHY GETTY IMAGES, STEPHEN NOWLAND
“I hope this new technique leads to better
ways to visualize not just the activity of single cells in a laboratory dish, but to learn about
cell-to-cell interactions in actual physiological
conditions,” Su says. “It’s like opening a new door onto a largely unexplored realm—the forces inside of us.”
Coauthors of the study include researchers
from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Ludwig
Maximilian University in Munich, the Max Planck Institute, and the University of Alabama at Bir-
mingham. The work was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National
Science Foundation, the Naito Foundation, and the Uehara Memorial Foundation.—Carol Clark
Continued from page 7
Emory’s Pulitzer Prize–winning professor and journalist Hank Klibanoff, working with five Emory College of Arts and Sciences undergraduates, local editor Richard Halicks, and the WABE production team, unearthed the centuries-long roots of the killing during a summer marked by national protests demanding a reckoning on race. “What has happened in the past is still happening. It just looks a little different,” says Cameron Katz 21C, a senior with a double major in history and creative writing, who helped research the ancestry of the men charged in Arbery’s death: Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan. “Going deeper into the history allows us to connect dots that people might not have known existed,” Klibanoff says. “Many of us are experiencing a deep and compelling need, driven in part by the moral outrage triggered by this case, to understand who we were, so we can better understand who we are today.” Arbery’s death, which remained largely unknown for weeks, drew national attention—and outrage—after video of the February confrontation was released. Klibanoff and his Emory College student team, including Jake Busch 22C, Hannah Charak 22C, Jordan Flowers 21C, Katz and Sage Mason 18Ox 20C, decided then to begin tracing the history behind Arbery’s death. Previous research by junior Rowan Thomas 21C regarding the role of slave patrols in creating police forces in the rural South also guided their work.—April Hunt
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A (VIRTUAL) VISIT FROM IBRAM X. KENDI American historian Ibram X. Kendi, a key voice in the conversation about race in America, was featured in a special live webcast this fall. Kendi, a National Book Award winner for his New York Times bestseller How to Be an Antiracist, is the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. During the webcast, Kendi discussed what is required from us— self-awareness, self-criticism, self-examination—to lead to policy change and make the vision of a just society a shared reality. The event was hosted by Emory’s Center for Ethics and sponsored by the James Fowler Ethics Fund, along with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
SLOWING COVID-19 ON CAMPUS Community-driven input on ways to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 inspired a new public health campaign at Emory that formally rolled out this fall. Through posters, videos, and social media strategies, the “For You. For Us. For Emory.” campaign features students and other members of the community, with the goal of keeping COVID-19 off campus so students and faculty can remain on it. The campaign builds upon the overarching Emory Forward effort, which provides vital information to students, faculty, staff, and the general public—including a real-time COVID-19 dashboard—about the fall 2020 semester and beyond at Emory.
POINTS OF INTEREST
T E AC HI NG
Lights, Zoom, Action EMORY THEATER PROFESSOR ADJUSTS HER AUDITION COURSE TO MEET THE DEMANDS OF TEACHING IN THE AGE OF COVID-19.
and mini-sessions to reduce student frustration during the three-hour, Friday afternoon class. “It doesn’t feel long. The class is fast paced. The information is so interesting. . . . I think there are aspects that are applicable to other things,” says sophomore Amna Sadig 23C.
different energy than in class. It inspired me that I could be doing that one day.” Because of online constraints, the body and breath work included in acting mostly disappear. LaVoy focuses more on the emotional journey. Students pair up to rehearse, then self-tape a monologue to share. The fear of public humiliation is A SAFE PLACE TO TAKE RISKS still a challenge, just different. “On Zoom, you can see their faces watching your Lavoy creates an open, “no stupid audition tape so you get over stage fright questions” safe space for students to and bond over it. In a normal audition, experiment. Instead of perfecting one monologue, it’s a deep dive into making you never see them again, but if it went a “Do It Yourself” audition tape—learning poorly I have to see them in class next all steps along the way. “It’s a pragmatic week. It creates a safe place for making way of looking at auditions,” LaVoy says. mistakes and taking risks,” Oursler says. LaVoy teaches that there’s no one “Two things about auditions: they are job interviews and they offer problems that correct audition method. “It makes the journey much more alive and fun. They need solving.” are on this quest for their own best Early in the pandemic, LaVoy faced practice and that requires them to gauge her own problem. Her agents got her it at every step,” LaVoy says. a pilot audition for the Oprah Winfrey “It’s a great combo of discussion, Network, OWN. She taped her audition technical practice, and acting despite our and then shared the entire process in remote learning,” Oursler says, “Taking it class—rehearsing, filming, editing, and creating a title card for the final product twice is definitely a reminder I have a lot she emailed. “The idea is that it’s okay to more to work on, but seeing my progress is a great feeling.”—Senta Scarborough mess up. Pick what works best for you, and try something else if it isn’t working,” Sadig says. “I knew the professor was an actress but it was interesting to see her in that environment. It is such a
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PHOTOGRAPHY GETTY IMAGES
hen stage lights dimmed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an Emory professor transformed a narrowly focused course preparing students for a theater conference into a master class in auditioning. January LaVoy, an assistant theater professor and veteran actor, acting coach and voice artist, originally taught auditioning her first semester at Emory last fall. The class prepped students for theater auditions at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC), where they performed monologues in hopes of landing summer jobs. “I had feedback saying they wished it was more than just for SETCs. I started to reconceive the class,” LaVoy says. Carolyn Oursler 22C, a junior theater major, has taken LaVoy’s class both times. “Last year it was more like coaching and crafting one strong piece. This year, it’s more of an overview into auditions, techniques, and preparation. It is a more well-rounded approach,” Oursler says. Auditions typically are held in person with casting agents but, when the pandemic hit, taped auditions quickly became the norm. This fall, nine students signed onto Zoom for the six-week, intermediate theater class, Audition Preparation Online. LaVoy uses breaks
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R ANKI NG S
PULLING RANK Emory University is again rated among the nation’s best higher-ed institutions by US News & World Report. From the 2021 Best Colleges guidebook
#21 #25 Overall Top
P H O T O G R A P H Y C O U R T E SY O F M ACA R T H U R F O U N DAT I O N , G E T T Y I M AG E S
ALUMNA WINS 2020 MACARTHUR ‘GENIUS GRANT’ Tressie McMillan Cottom PhD 15, who earned her doctorate in sociology from Emory’s Laney Graduate School, has received a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship for her work “shaping discourse on highly topical issues at the confluence of race, gender, education, and digital technology for broad audiences.” The MacArthur Foundation announced a total of twenty-one fellows this year. Often dubbed “genius grants,” the fellowships come with a $625,000 award. "I care about how societies function," Cottom says. “And as a writer, I care deeply about reimagining how societies function so that they might function better for the least and the most marginalized among us.”
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Emory has also been cited in other rankings as one of the world’s top research universities (Leiden Ranking), among the best for quality of life and financial aid (Princeton Review), and as a best value among private universities (Princeton Review, Forbes).
Ratio of International Students (also among nation’s best)
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PROVOST SEARCH UNDERWAY In a recent letter to the Emory community, President Gregory L. Fenves announced that a search committee has been formed to find a permanent provost for the university. “As the chief academic officer, the provost provides essential leadership for education and research at Emory and will partner with me as we all work together to achieve that mission,” Fenves writes. “The faculty members on the advisory committee come from Emory’s nine schools and colleges, and the committee includes two students, two deans, and one trustee. I hope to have a new provost in place at Emory no later than the start of the fall 2021 semester.”
PH O T O G R A PH Y K AY H I N TO N
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RIGHT TIME. RIGHT PLACE. RIGHT LEADER. Gregory L. Fenves brings an extraordinary set of skills and experiences to lead Emory University through extraordinary times as its twenty-first president.
P H O T O G R A P H Y K AY H I N TO N
Last November, when the Emory Board of Trustees began its search for the university’s twenty-first president, no one could have anticipated what lay ahead. Within a few months, a global pandemic would claim countless lives, paralyze communities, tax health care systems, and threaten economies. At the same time, protests challenging America’s legacy of racist violence would erupt across the United States and eventually, the world. Arguably, there has never been a more challenging time to be a leader in higher education. But Fenves, who stepped into his new role as Emory’s president on August 1, arrived understanding full well the unusual scope of what awaited him. And he knows key questions will need to be answered. What is the role of higher education in the face of a pandemic? How do we develop a blueprint for moving forward? Quite simply, how do universities go on in this new environment? We stand in a profound, complicated moment of humankind’s history, to be sure. For Fenves, however, it is also a catalytic moment—one charged with possibilities for innovation and discovery, collaboration and engagement. He sees universities as critical players in finding the way forward: pivotal change agents poised for just this kind of transformative, impact-driven work.
“It’s an unprecedented time,” Fenves says. “But I would like to use it as a time of not just surviving, but thinking critically and creatively about what we do, collaborating and continuing the education of students and the research that is vital to society. We’re at a moment of opportunity, one where Emory can show leadership. I was drawn to Emory because of its tremendous academic programs and its tremendous desire to be even better.” Then again, he has never been one to back away from a challenge. Those who’ve worked alongside him will tell you that solving problems may well be among his greatest strengths, and Fenves approaches the task with a resolute sense of purpose. In fact, much of his thirty-six-year career in higher education—as a professor, researcher, and administrator— has been spent unraveling problems. Listening, collaborating, gathering information, evaluating possibilities, and creating decisive solutions constitute a typical day at the office. As a child, Fenves would dismantle a tape recorder to understand how it fit together—a future structural engineer in the making. And as a top university administrator, he has continued that reverse-engineering practice, carefully untangling issues and immersing himself in their inner workings to better inform his decisions.
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That, say his higher education colleagues, is who Fenves is: engaged, practical, strategic.
ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS TO HIGHER EDUCATION’S CHALLENGES For the past five years, Fenves served as president of the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), the state’s topranked public university, a position that built upon earlier roles as UT Austin’s executive vice president and provost, and dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. From his first days leading the state’s flagship university, Fenves faced tough issues and difficult choices. Under his tenure, UT Austin successfully defended the university’s practice of using race and ethnicity in admission decisions before the US Supreme Court. It expanded financial assistance and support to low- and middle-income undergraduates and raised four-year graduation rates to record levels. It also opened the Dell Medical School—the first new, from-the-ground-up US medical school to open at a major research university in nearly fifty years. With an eye on strengthening academic excellence, under Fenves’ guidance the university also expanded interdisciplinary research and launched a faculty investment initiative to support competitive salaries, retention, and senior recruitments. Fenves is also widely credited with helping steady relations with University of Texas System’s Board of Regents and elected leaders, some of whom had pushed to see the university function more like a for-profit business. His success in steering the university through those rough waters is frequently ascribed to his leadership
strengths, particularly his analytical skills and unwavering composure. In fact, UT Austin colleagues insist he’s often at his best in the face of challenge. “He’s quite good at crisis,” says Clay Johnston, dean of UT Austin’s Dell Medical School and vice president for medical affairs. “He loves to solve problems, bringing people together to study things from all angles. He likes to see the data behind an issue, but is also really careful and thoughtful about the human aspect of things, such as how would a decision impact this person, this group, this viewpoint.” Johnston adds: “Greg is a real person and lets you know it. He’s comfortable in his humanity.” In the search for a new president, Emory was seeking someone with just that kind of balance—a leader who offered both a well of experience and an approachable, human touch in meeting the opportunities and future challenges of higher education. “Our criteria were clear: superior academic credentials, deep experience as a leader, a proven team builder, an excellent communicator, unimpeach-
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TOP: As president of the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), Greg Fenves played an instrumental role in the creation of the Dell Medical School and in supporting health care innovation. RIGHT: Fenves has always loved to keep up with cutting-edge technologies, such as augmented reality systems pioneered at UT Austin. BOTTOM RIGHT: Fenves led the effort to remove Confederate statues from prominent public areas on UT Austin’s campus, including this statue of Jefferson Davis in 2015. BELOW: Fenves poses with his two daughters and granddaughter at a Longhorns game.
able integrity, and someone who understands and appreciates the potential for Emory,” says Robert C. Goddard III, chair of Emory’s Board of Trustees and the Presidential Selection Committee. Beyond Fenves’ outstanding record as a professor, dean and president, “he is highly regarded across the academic community, and he has also drawn rave reviews from students, parents, community leaders, and others,” Goddard says. “What we were told, and confirmed in our interviews, is that Greg is a person with exceptional vision, drive, and creativity. I also found him to be highly confident but refreshingly humble.” Perhaps most exciting, says Goddard, is the confidence and enthusiasm Fenves has for Emory’s future. “It’s his view that Emory has the necessary ingredients to accelerate its climb to national and international leadership. I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to work with him.”
WORLD, MANY LEADERS ACROSS THE EMORY CAMPUS HAVE BEEN GRAPPLING WITH THE
COURAGE TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISIONS
P H O T O G R A P H Y C O U R T E S Y O F F E N V E S FA M I LY
“LIKE THE REST OF THE
UNCERTAINTY AND EVER-CHANGING
To better understand Fenves’ decisive approach to leadership, it helps to start with a nine-foot-tall, twelve-hundredpound bronze statue. Years before the current national debate over Confederate statues, and only two months into his UT Austin presidency, Fenves made a bold move. Since the 1930s, a towering bronze sculpture of Jefferson Davis, former president of the Southern Confederacy, had stood on UT Austin’s Main Mall, the symbolic heart of the campus—among a series of statues commissioned long ago by a Texas businessman and Confederate army major, who had himself fought at Shiloh and Chickamauga. Over time, the Davis statue had attracted controversy and protest, and a few months before Fenves took office, UT Austin’s student government passed a resolution calling for its removal. Following the June 2015 slayings of nine Black parishioners in Charleston’s Emanuel A.M.E. Church, those demands intensified. In response, Fenves quickly organized a task force to evaluate the “contextual appropriateness” of the statue, as well as others. “Basically, he used the expertise on campus to gain consensus among multilayered constituencies, and it worked,” recalls Cherise Smith, chair of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at UT Austin. “It was a decisive move, streamlined and deliberate. I was very, very impressed.”
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PRESENCE OF THIS PANDEMIC AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR OUR FACULTY, STAFF, STUDENTS AND TRAINEES, PATIENTS, AND COMMUNITY. AND I CAN SAY WITHOUT A DOUBT, GREG FENVES IS THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR EMORY.” —Jon Lewin, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs
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STRAIGHT TO WORK President Fenves recently toured Emory University Hospital, stopping frequently to thank frontline health care workers along the way. Fenves has dived right in to his duties as Emory president, including hosting a virtual Q&A session on his first official day on the job.
Despite a legal challenge, Fenves decided the Davis statue would be forklifted from its limestone pedestal and relocated to UT Austin’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, destined to become part of an educational exhibit. “While every historical figure leaves a mixed legacy, I believe Jefferson Davis is in a separate category, and that it is not in the university’s best interest to continue commemorating him on our Main Mall,” Fenves explained in a letter to the UT Austin community. Two years later, he did it again. Following violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the removal of a Confederate statue, Fenves revisited the 2015 task force findings. While preparing for church, Leonard Moore, vice president of UT Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, recalls his phone ringing early one Sunday morning. Fenves calmly told him that at midnight four more statues would be coming down—including those of two Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, and Confederate cabinet member John
Reagan—slated to join the Davis statue as part of the Briscoe Center collection. Moore was impressed, both with Fenves’ gutsy decision and the courtesy of an advance alert. Days before students returned for classes—and with little fuss or fanfare—the statues were removed. In a community letter, Fenves said that after the violence in Charlottesville, it had become clear to him that Confederate monuments had become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism. “We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus,” he wrote. Earlier this year, Emory history professor Joe Crespino joined faculty colleagues on the presidential search committee for a luncheon with Fenves. To a person, they reported it was hearing his account of those decisions that convinced them: Fenves was the one. They believed he was the next person who should lead Emory. Beyond Fenves’ broad knowledge about higher education—a wide range of experiences as an administrator, researcher, teacher, and scholar—“to hear him talk through the challenges he faced at the University of Texas, particularly the decision to remove the Confederate statues—as a historian, I found it enormously impressive,” says Crespino, Jimmy Carter Professor of History and chair of Emory’s Department of History. Fenves has dived right in to his duties as Emory president, including hosting a virtual Q&A session on his first official day on the job. “It showed he has an essential quality of leadership, a clarity of vision to know when to take a stand and where to draw the line,” he adds. “I think that was when I realized we had an incredible opportunity here.”
With a background steeped in family, creativity, and culture, Carmel Martinez Fenves brings her own brand of warmth and engagement to work on campus.
Fenves considers his wife an important
President Gregory L. Fenves charted an
If he is introspective, she is an unrepentant
hile sharpening his amateur
sailing skills with friends on the
San Francisco Bay decades ago, Emory
partner in his presidential role. Friends de-
scribe them as two sides of the same coin.
unexpected, life-altering course: He met the extrovert—quick to laugh and willing to talk love of his life and his future wife, Carmel Martinez.
A textile artist and first-generation col-
lege student, Martinez had grown up in the
Bay Area within a large, extended family that met for boisterous weekly gatherings filled with food and laughter and music. Her par-
ents’ roots extended back into Mexico, and
“No matter who you are, she greets
you with an authentic warmth and inter-
est—a model of accessibility and welcome without the slightest pretense,” says Paul Goldbart, dean of the College of Natural Sciences at UT Austin. “I know that she
meets hundreds of people, but it’s almost
her mother’s plan was always to see her chil- as if you’re bumping into a cousin you dren attend college. After two years at Santa haven’t seen in a while.” Rosa Junior College, Martinez transferred
to University of California, Davis, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in textile arts. On the day she met Fenves, she had
been invited by mutual friends to join them for a sailing cruise. When the group later
migrated to a bar in Tiburon, she found her-
At UT Austin, Carmel Fenves played an
active role in the university’s initiative to
support first-generation students, and she looks forward to exploring those interests
at Emory. “I love to hear first-gen stories— everyone is slightly different,” she says.
“I also like to look beyond their university
P H O T O G R A P H Y C O U R T E S Y O F F E N V E S FA M I LY
self in conversation with the sailing vessel’s experience. What happens to you and your dark-haired young deckhand, whom she
family when that first-gen student is suc-
University of California, Berkeley.
that fit back into your family life? Each fam-
learned was an engineering student at the In time, she would come to admire him
for his intelligence, composure, and ability to focus on what really matters. “I like the
cessful and their life changes? How does ily has a different response. . . . I’m always interested in what happens next.”
Though before August, neither Fenves
way he analyzes things,” she explains. “He’s
had spent a great deal of time in Atlanta,
to grasp what is immediately important.”
particularly its role in the US civil rights
quick, very logical; he sees past a lot of stuff Together, they’ve been married thir-
ty-six years, and raised two daughters,
both now adults—the rhythm of their family life always tied to an academic calendar.
they’ve been reading up on the region,
movement. Carmel Fenves says she will
especially enjoy learning more about how the history of the university fits within the history of Atlanta.
FAMILY FIRST TOP: family portrait of Greg and Carmel with their two daughters, granddaughter, and son-in-law. BOTTOM: Greg and Carmel celebrate the news that they're coming to Emory.
And though it is somewhat bittersweet
to arrive on campus amid a pandemic—
she knows it will be a while before she ex-
periences the Emory campus as it existed this time last year—there is still much to look forward to.
“I’m very excited to be Greg’s partner
in this,” she says. “We’re so grateful for the opportunity.”
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“WHEN IT COMES TO NAVIGATING THE CHALLENGES OF LEADING A UNIVERSITY, PRESIDENT FENVES HAS A LONG HISTORY OF REACTING PROMPTLY, THOUGHTFULLY, AND STRATEGICALLY— WORKING COLLABORATIVELY WITH HIS CONSTITUENCIES AND INVESTING IN DECISIONS THAT SUPPORT STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND RESEARCHERS. HE IS A DISTINGUISHED SCHOLAR AND INSPIRED LEADER WHOSE VISION REFLECTS HIS OWN PERSONAL INTEGRITY AND EXCEPTIONAL CHARACTER. I AM CONFIDENT THAT HE WILL LEAD EMORY FORWARD WITH BOLDNESS AND AMBITION INTO A BRIGHT FUTURE.” —Jan Love, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Mary Lee Hardin Willard Dean of Candler School of Theology
In her thirty-one years at Emory, Nancy Newman has served on more search committees than she can count. This one, she says, was different. “He’s a fabulous strategist who doesn’t shy away from the hard things,” Newman says about Fenves. “Through his experience, he’s shown us time and again, these are situations where he shines. The more we plumbed his depths, the more greatness we found.” She left that day “with such excitement, absolutely energized.” Newman, LeoDelle Jolley Chair of Ophthalmology at the Emory School of Medicine, recalls thinking, “This is a guy who makes me want to work at Emory another thirty years.” With a record of promoting social, economic, and racial equity for UT students, Fenves is already engaging with some of those issues at Emory. When a coalition of Emory Black student organizations reached out to administrators over the summer with concerns and demands, he helped lead efforts to listen, talk with them, and respond—well before he had actually stepped into his new role. President Fenves recently toured Emory University Hospital, stopping frequently to thank frontline health care workers along the way. “When a president who doesn’t even officially start the job until August 1 has given students an audience, that’s a very good sign of things to come,” says Carol Henderson, Emory vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. “He’s a motivator and a collaborator, already listening and connecting with community members.” Across the nation, “we are at an enormous moment of change and reflection—so many institutions are being asked to address questions and think of history and racial legacies in ways they haven’t in many decades,” Crespino adds. “To have someone with Greg Fenves’ experience and also his own personal history, his own personal story, at Emory in this moment is so powerful.”
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GROWING UP ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES Fenves grew up in the American heartland with a childhood spent around universities—one of four children born to Steven J. Fenves, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Norma Fenves, a clinical social worker. For Fenves and his siblings, the university campus became as familiar as their own backyard. Visits to his father’s office meant running across the street to explore the student union, eat in the cafeteria, visit the bowling alley, or catch a campus movie. Summer months were spent at camps hosted at the university. Fenves received master and doctoral degrees in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) in 1980 and 1984. By high school, the Fenves family had moved just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where his father joined Carnegie Mellon University as a widely respected professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. In 1976, Steven Fenves was
P H O T O G R A P H Y C O U R T E S Y O F F E N V E S FA M I LY
GROWING UP TOP LEFT: As a young child, Fenves spent a great deal of time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and then at Carnegie Mellon University, where his father worked as a professor. TOP RIGHT: Fenves takes a study break during graduate school. BOTTOM RIGHT: Fenves graduated with a doctoral degree from UC Berkeley in 1984.
elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his pioneering work in applying computers and problem-oriented programming to civil engineering. Fenves will tell you that he was like many kids—interested in tinkering with erector sets, building things, and taking them apart. Even now, he enjoys watching his three-year-old granddaughter construct imaginary cities for her toy animals. By the time he was in high school, he traded toys for science projects and a growing interest in computers—a burgeoning new field at the time. By the early 1970s, Fenves was already teaching himself programming, envisioning a career in computer science. He chuckles to recall the excitement of picking up Popular Electronics magazine to see an advertisement for the Altair 8800—a kit to construct what was essentially the world’s first home microcomputer—and the disappointment of learning that his mother didn’t share his enthusiasm for the seven-hundred-dollar investment. Greg Fenves began his undergraduate studies at Cornell University fully expecting to major in the emerging field of computer science. However, disappointed in his first computer programming class, he quickly switched to structural engineering. Today, he often shares that life lesson with students, urging them to approach college classes with an open mind: “One course or one professor shouldn’t determine your career,” Fenves cautions. Ultimately, Fenves would pursue scholarship that blended both engineering and computer science. After earning his bachelor’s degree in engineering at Cornell with distinction, he headed to UC Berkeley to continue
graduate studies, arriving about eight years after the deadly San Fernando Earthquake, a 6.5 temblor that left a wake of death and destruction in Southern California. But the devastating event had also fed a fast-growing field of study: earthquake engineering. And on the West Coast, UC Berkeley sat at its epicenter. From analysis and modeling to studying the spectrum of earthquake motions, computers would play an essential role in that scholarship. After earning a master of science degree, Fenves stayed at UC Berkeley for doctoral studies, where he found satisfaction in both research and teaching. In the classroom, “there was a sense of excitement, new ideas, new problems to be confronted, and new ways to solve those problems,” he says. After launching his teaching career at UT Austin in 1984, Fenves returned to UC Berkeley in 1988, where he would eventually chair the university’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, among the nation’s top programs. Three decades later, in 2014, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his own groundbreaking research in earthquake engineering, as well as his academic leadership. Universities, he found, were unique institutions, “where very smart people have the freedom to think deeply as individuals and as an intellectual community about humanity, society, and addressing difficult problems.” “And you are always dealing with young people and education in an environment that changes all the time,” he reflects. “In fact, some of my closest relationships have been with my former students, who still keep in touch.”
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DRAWING UPON THE POWER OF HIS FAMILY’S STORY
A HISTORY OF OVERCOMING OBSTACLES
TOP: Fenves (right) poses with his father, Steven, and mother, Norma, at the Holocaust Museum Houston’s Guardian of the Human Spirit Award ceremony in 2017, where he told his family’s story of survival. BOTTOM: Fenves practices social distancing while touring Emory.
In 1950, Steven Fenves and his sister arrived in Chicago. He was drafted into the US Army and, in an ironic twist of fate, was eventually deployed to join the country’s occupation forces in Germany. Speaking at the award ceremony, Greg Fenves acknowledged that he had never before discussed his father’s story outside the family. But by sharing it, by understanding history, “we understand our own story—as individuals, as a society, and as a nation,” he reflected. “That is the power of a story.” At Emory, Fenves has arrived prepared to help tell another important story: the next chapter in the life of the
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university. It will no doubt be a tale that features remarkable challenges and unexpected plot twists, struggles, and surprises. But it will also be one of incalculable contributions, with possibilities for discovery and learning and unimagined advances in the service of humanity—poised to unfold at this important, catalytic moment. That story now rests in Greg Fenves’ capable hands. And he’s ready to turn the page.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF HOLOCAUST MUSEUM HOUSTON, EPV
As a university president, Fenves is experienced in presenting a public face for the university—his focus understandably on the institution. He’s less accustomed to putting the spotlight on himself. But a few years ago, Fenves surprised many colleagues by opening up about his own family story. While receiving the Guardian of the Human Spirit Award at the Holocaust Museum Houston in 2017, Fenves spoke “more personally than I am used to” as he shared a deeply American story, one “that helps define who I am, and a story about our nation—my father’s story.” Fenves was eight years old when he learned that his father was a Holocaust survivor. He recalled slipping into his parents’ bedroom while his father napped to peek at the telltale numbers tattooed upon his arm. And he described his father’s harrowing journey, from growing up in a prosperous, educated Jewish-Hungarian family in Yugoslavia to seeing their home, business, and possessions confiscated under Nazi occupation. In 1944, thirteen-year-old Steven Fenves and his family were placed in cattle cars destined for Auschwitz. Steven’s grandmother was quickly taken to the gas chamber; his mother would later die in a separate compound. He and his sister were assigned to youth blocks, where he worked in a slave labor camp. At the war’s end, young Fenves was among only a handful of relatives to emerge from the camps—including his sister and his father, who was near death. Before his passing, the elder Fenves wrote to a friend in New York, with the hope that his children might move to America.
w ith President Fenves
100 DAYS ON CAMPUS
here’s no question about it. Forging a path forward through a changing higher education
landscape—amid unprecedented challenges brought by COVID-19—demands creativity, vision, and decisive leadership. Within his first months, Emory President Gregory L. Fenves firmly embraced that mission, launching an ambitious schedule that has included connecting and engaging with communities across Emory and Atlanta. On campus since August 1, he’s faced a spectrum of timely, pressing issues: racial equity and social justice; the new demands of remote learning; keeping faculty, staff, and students safe during a global pandemic; and supporting cutting-edge research and health care that holds the promise to change lives, just to name a few. Here President Fenves, in Q&A format, offers a recap of his first one hundred days on campus, as well as a look at the near future for Emory.
Q: This year brought a great national reckoning concerning issues of race and justice. What is Emory’s role in advancing this important conversation?
PRESIDENT FENVES: This summer, a new chapter in our nation’s history was written. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other African Americans sparked an awakening to the malignant effects of anti-Black racism—amplifying horrific experiences that for many African Americans are an inescapable part of life. Our community, and
especially our students, came together to share their voices in solidarity with so many inspired people across the nation—to fight racism and police violence and call for action throughout society and at Emory. Over the past few months, I joined other Emory leadership in meeting with student leaders to discuss the university’s path forward, and I also listened to heartbreaking stories of racism, fear, and frustration in other ways. Let me be clear that racism has no place at Emory. I want to recognize all those students, along with staff and faculty, who bravely shared their experiences and who have taken this historic moment and helped turn it into a movement for justice. Black students have organized, worked together, and recently presented the university with a number of important initiatives. Other student groups and faculty across schools have also made their voices heard. Inspired by the vision, energy, and guidance of our students and community, we’ve announced a series of actions the university has taken—and will continue to take—to improve the Emory experience and live up to our values so that everyone feels a sense of belonging and shared purpose.
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Those actions include establishing a director of diversity and inclusion education and outreach, creating a committee to evaluate honorific names used on campus, the renovation of affinity group spaces, and next fall’s planned rollout of a new general education requirement for undergraduate students that focuses on race and ethnicity, among others.
but our students, faculty, staff, and alumni have remained strong and united. That is a reflection of the power and spirit of this community. In particular, I’ve been deeply impressed with what Emory faculty have achieved with a lot of hard work in a short period of time, to be able to provide a quality education through technology-driven distance learning. Meanwhile, our students have demonstrated amazing resilience. We will build on the lessons learned this fall and innovate for the coming semester.
faculty are teaching completely online. Testing of residential students at frequent intervals has helped us maintain the health of our community this semester. For spring 2021, the university plans to move to a saliva-based COVID-19 test, which will allow the tests to be done more frequently and with much less discomfort. This will also allow us to modestly increase the number of students in residence on both the Atlanta and Oxford campuses while maintaining one student per room this spring. For most students, courses will continue as a mixture of in-person and Q: What gives you confidence that remote classes, and many students will Emory can serve students safely amid still have a majority, and possibly all, of a pandemic? their courses taught remotely. FENVES: We’re following what’s As I walk around the Atlanta and happening across the country at uniOxford campuses, everyone seems to versities, and we’ve made some difficult understand that we are in this together, decisions. Over the summer we decided that we have to work together to continto significantly reduce the number of ue functioning, achieving our mission. So students living on campus for the fall we are wearing masks, staying physically semester, so that the students who are distant, being careful about washing here can learn as safely as possible. hands and cleaning surfaces. And that’s Right now, about 80 percent of our happening every hour, every day. undergraduate students are learning I’ve had the opportunity to work at completely online and 60 percent of our more than one university during this
Q: COVID-19 presents extraordinary challenges for universities across the globe. How do you envision moving Emory forward in its educational mission?
FENVES: I am profoundly aware that my arrival in Atlanta comes amid one of the most severe global crises in modern history. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed what we can do and how we educate students at a top research university. It’s also had economic repercussions, requiring our community to make very difficult decisions. But it hasn’t changed us. It hasn’t changed our mission nor our values. During the past six months, Emory has been tested in extraordinary ways,
Meets with frontline health care workers at Emory University Hospital to observe how their hard work and dedication is helping our response to the pandemic
Gregory L. Fenves officially begins his role as Emory’s twenty-first president.
Visits Emory School of Medicine to drop in on a Zoom class of first-year students, as well as an in-person class
Shares message with Emory community about steps being taken toward racial justice aided by the vision and commitment of students, faculty, and staff
Connects with members of the campus community in the online forum, “21 Questions with Emory’s 21st President”
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Welcomes new master's and doctoral students to Laney Graduate School during virtual New Student Orientation
pandemic, and I’ve talked to a number of other university presidents, and I believe that Emory is as well-prepared for what we now face as any university in the country. Our dedication to safety is guided by the expertise of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center’s schools of medicine, public health, and nursing, as well as Emory Healthcare and our researchers and clinicians working on treatments and vaccine testing. That has helped in establishing campus safety protocols for testing, contract tracing, and how we will care for students if they test positive. But it will also require everyone’s commitment. This is simply not a pandemic that will be conquered with a single drug, a single vaccine. Emory’s success depends on each one of us.
Q: One of your responsibilities will be to appoint a new provost to help guide Emory’s academic mission. What are your plans on that front? FENVES: Academic excellence is the foundation of Emory’s mission. As the chief academic officer, the provost provides essential leadership for edu-
cation and research at Emory and will partner with me as we all work together to achieve that mission. In September, I announced the appointment of a search advisory committee, which includes faculty members from Emory’s nine schools and colleges, two students, two deans, and one trustee. Given that the appointment of the provost will be one of the most important decisions in my tenure as president, I have decided to chair the committee, so I can continue to learn more about the academic needs, aspirations, and challenges across the university. Emory has retained Ilene H. Nagel of Education Executives to work with the advisory committee as it identifies a pool of outstanding, diverse candidates and moves forward through the search process. I hope to have a new provost in place at Emory no later than the start of the fall 2021 semester. Over the past year of transition and pandemic at Emory, the university’s academic mission has advanced, in no small part, because of the incredible work of Interim Provost Jan Love, who will continue to provide crucial direc-
tion. I am grateful for her continued willingness to serve until our next provost can join us.
Q: What would you like Emory students to know at this extraordinary moment?
FENVES: Universities exist to educate students. And so to our Emory students—from the first-year students who have started their educations here at Emory this fall to our returning undergraduate, graduate, and professional students—know that our mission has not changed. Our goal to prepare you for the future, to provide the highest quality education, has not changed. But we all face a unique situation in history; it’s unique for every one of us. And we’re going to work together to continue that mission. So your goals shouldn’t have changed either—your goals to learn, to become experts in a field or discipline, and your goal to graduate from Emory prepared to change the world.
United Against COVID-19 For You. For Us. For Emory. emory.edu/forward
SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 symptoms can include the following: • • • • •
Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing Fever or chills Muscle or body aches Vomiting or diarrhea New loss of taste or smell
This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your healthcare provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Symptoms can range from mild to severe illness, and appear 2-14 days after you are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Seek medical care immediately if someone has Emergency Warning Signs of COVID-19.
Meets and greets Emory first-year students and their families, as well as residential life advisers on campus during Emory Move-In
Shares message with Emory community about COVID-19 tracking updates; the launch of Emory’s new COVID-19 Dashboard, an online resource updated daily; and “For You. For Us. For Emory,” a new public health campaign to promote the shared responsibility to keep COVID-19 off campus
Opens a virtual COVID-19 Fireside Chat with infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci alongside Emory’s Carlos del Rio and Colleen Kraft and moderated by Sanjay Gupta
Encourages voter registration by joining Emory Votes Initiative’s virtual celebration of National Voter Registration Day
Announces plans for the spring 2021 semester after working closely with the provost, deans, public health experts, and leaders from across Emory
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CAMPUS LIFE IN THE
NORMAL Precautionary COVID-19 testing. Mandatory mask wearing and social distancing. Limited in-person classes. Despite new safety and health protocols, students returned to Emory campuses this fall with an unprecedented excitement to move forward with their academic journeys. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a brief glimpse at what everyday life has looked like for students, faculty, and staff so far this semester.
3. 1. Social distancing and mask wearing are novel norms both inside and outside of Emory buildings. 2. New signage has been installed all across both campuses to maximize safety. 3. After months of waiting and sheltering at home, students were glad for a return to college life. 4. COVID-19 screening and testing are part of enhanced
PH O T O G R A PH Y K AY H I N TO N A N D S T E P H E N N OW L A N D
n June 11, 2020, after weeks of careful cross-university collaboration and deliberation—including consulting with its leading medical and public health experts—Emory announced it would reopen the Atlanta and Oxford College campuses to host a hybrid model of in-person and online classes for the fall 2020 semester. Between that date and the first student move-in on August 13, the university worked diligently to develop a rigorous set of science- and data-based
COVID-19 protocols, procedures, and facility reconfigurations so that Emory could deliver its trademark, high-quality education while keeping its students, faculty, and staff as safe as possible. “We each have a responsibility to maintain a safe and vibrant living and learning environment for all members of the university community and the larger society,” says Enku Gelaye, vice president and dean of Campus Life. “As a caring community, Emory has developed
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5. 5. Incoming students were required to take a rapid COVID-19 test before being able to check in to their residence halls this August. 6. Fortunately, social distancing didn’t apply to goodbye hugs with the family. 7. Students were given a longer window—five days—than usual to complete their move-ins. 8. Classrooms were reconfigured for safety of both
faculty (Plexiglass dividers) and students (spaced-out seating).
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PHOTOGRAPHY STEPHEN NOWLAND
a community compact [for students, faculty, and staff]. We define this document as an agreement among members of the community to pursue the common good together—that common good is reducing exposure to COVID-19 for ourselves and others in our university family.” On-campus housing for the fall semester was limited to first-year and new transfer students, international students, and select others. Students arriving on both the Atlanta and Oxford campuses first reported to one of several locations for a rapid COVID-19 test and health screening, and then either moved into their residence halls or self-quarantined at home or in special campus accommodations until cleared to be on campus. New student orientation was conducted over three days with a mix of online programs, videos, and real-time sessions, says Jill Camper, director of new student programs in the Office for Undergraduate Education in Emory College of Arts and Sciences. “We designed an orientation that was inclusive of all new students, regardless of whether they are living on campus, off campus, or at home this semester,” Camper says. Despite the required changes this semester, little has dampened the enthusiasm of Emory’s newest students, who connected through social media, engaged in pre-registration appointments
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF OXFORD, GBS - ALLISON SHIRREFFS
12. with advisers, and reached out to make campus contacts, says Steve Savage, associate director of communications in the Office for Undergraduate Education. “The excitement of these students is absolutely palpable, and that’s true of our first-year students who chose to study remotely, too,” Savage says. “We heard from students throughout the summer who had been hunkered down and were ready to start something new. You could feel the anticipation.”
9. Campus dining is open and available on both campuses, with many locations emphasizing to-go service. 10. Even Swoop is required to follow the mandatory mask policy. 11. All students returning to cam-
pus received a welcome kit that contained Emory-branded face masks and other safety items. 12. Many common areas in Emory buildings are still open for studying and gathering in groups, with seating optimized for social distancing. 13. Faculty members spent months reconfiguring their classes for optimal, dynamic online learning.
F O R M O R E I N F O R M A T I O N about the fall 2020 student experience, the university’s health and safety protocols, campus services and resources, and the plans for the spring 2021 semester visit Emory Forward at W W W.EMORY.EDU/FORWARD.
JUSTICE Black Leaders at Emory Speak Out about this Pivotal Moment COLLECTED BY ROGER SLAVENS | PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAY HINTON
P H O T O G R A P H Y K AY H I N TO N
The many months of racial protest and social unrest in America—sparked by the unjust killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other Black men, women, and children—have been fueled by both righteous anger and resolute hope. In the following pages, some of Emory’s top Black leaders—teachers, researchers, creators, students, alumni—share their perspectives on the impact this reinvigorated movement has had on their personal and professional lives. Through their words, they shed light on how we as a society and as a university community can move toward a future where equity and justice burn brightly and systemic racism has been extinguished. FA LL / W INTER 2020
VICE PROVOST FOR DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
In her role as Emory’s first chief diversity officer and as an adviser to the president, Henderson strives to bring equity and inclusion to every unit and level of the university.
Education Is a Social Justice Issue, Too RIGHT NOW, we are living in a time of sheer bewilderment and incredulousness as the guiding principles of our national pledge “… one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” rings hollow for Black people who find themselves on the wrong end of a gun or a knee. Or at the mercy of inequitable health care systems and a pernicious disease whose lethal force makes starkly clear its disproportionate and adverse impact on Black, Latinx, Native, Indigenous, and low-income communities. Such daunting racial and social injustices and inequities can stretch one’s human capacity and leave one overwhelmed and exhausted by what is still left to do. Marian Wright Edelman has a quote in her book, A Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours, that has centered me during this unparalleled time of profound loss and grief: “[W]e must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.” It is this work that I—we—must lean into each and every day, steadfast in our commitment to the common good; courageous in our resolve to have necessary conversations about hatred, bias, racism, and inequity; consistent in our abilities to embrace the values of diversity, equity-mindedness, inclusion,
and justice in principle and in practice so we can dismantle systemic barriers of all kinds. We must remind ourselves that education, too, is a social justice issue. It is one of the few mechanisms left in our society that enables social mobility. It is within our reach to not only ensure equal access to Emory’s world-class education, but to ensure that, while generating new knowledge, we create an academic community that reflects the world we live in—a community where everyone can thrive and succeed as they bring their whole selves to the classroom and the office. This journey is a daily one—one that requires grace, humility, self-awareness, and persistence. Each day I ask myself: “What can we accomplish today?” Because the grace is, we have twenty-four hours each day with which we are blessed to live to create change. The question then becomes, “When we look back on this unprecedented time in history, what do we want others to say about our presence and leadership in this moment? About Emory’s com-
mitment to the work of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion because they are inextricably linked?” We want people to say we made daily strides for the betterment of the common good. That we were intentional in our work to end “isms” of every kind. That we transformed the educational trajectory of families and individuals in underserved communities in affirming, impactful, and sustainable ways. That through our partnerships, our knowledge, our creativity, and our resources, we made an impact on neighborhoods, cities, states, and nations. That we made the planet a better place for our children, and for our children’s children. We want people to say we used education to forever change the world.
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Good Neighbors WEEKS BEFORE COVID-19 ERUPTED, my nine-
on social media to Confederate mon-
year-old son was upset because he did not want to take
uments being torn down. Back in that
out the garbage. He is afraid of bees, which are some-
before time, when white people could
times in the back yard. I had checked and there were no
still, inexplicable as this was to me, claim
bees, but still he would not be calmed. I coaxed him into
innocence, I made a quick, racist calcula-
the yard anyway and went back inside to his siblings.
tion of my own.
He stood on the back porch and yelled as loud as
The officer in my home was a Black
he could, as if he really was being attacked by bees. He
woman, about my age. I calculated she
had worked himself into a tizzy, like that woman in
must be a mother, as I know very few
Central Park we all saw work herself up after someone
Black women my own age who are not
had called her out on breaking the park rules—worked
mothers. I calculated that if I showed no
herself up into the belief that a Black man was attack-
fear then she would keep her gun in her
ing her. We all watched that video and understood
holster, and her handcuffs on her belt.
how a white woman’s fear, even her contrived fear, can
And so she and I talked. She listened to
be enough to kill a Black man.
my son and asked him questions. She
After my son’s tantrum about the bees, it was some minutes before quiet descended on the yard. I heard the front door open and I smiled, proud of my boy for calming himself down. But it was not just my son walking in the door. It was my son and a police officer. A neighbor had called the police on us. Neighbors. “A number of calls,” said the officer. “Oh, sweetheart,” I said to my son. In these days before COVID-19,
called the station to say that our house was in order (what if it hadn’t been?). She said that the boy was not locked out because he himself had let her in (but what if he hadn’t? What if he had run when he saw her?). Then she helped my son to take out the garbage because, I suppose, there was nothing else to do. Later I will pray out loud, thankful that I moved the kids to
my neighbors were not yet the
Atlanta, Georgia, from Westchester, New
white people who would rally
York, to a Black city where it seems as
alongside me and my children in Decatur Square. They were not
possible as anything else that in a white neighborhood the beat officer sent to
yet the neighbors who would
check on a screaming child might be a
wake up in the middle of the
night to stream down the street alongside the Black
(Excerpted from an essay that originally appeared
teenagers who alerted us
in the UK-based Times Literary Supplement.)
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH AND CREATIVE WRITING
At Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Yanique teaches creative writing with a focus on environment and character development. Her novel Monster in the Middle is forthcoming in 2021.
A New Call for Moral Leadership
ROBERT MICHAEL FRANKLIN JR. JAMES T. AND BERTA R. LANEY PROFESSOR IN MORAL LEADERSHIP, CANDLER SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY
An ordained minister, Franklin is a national advocate for moral leadership, building upon his long career as a theologian and higher education administrator, including a term as the president of Morehouse College.
I REMEMBER 1968. The year that felt like a turning point for America. Our politics were polarized, and masses of people, especially students, marched in the streets demanding a more just society. We appear to be there again. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, history does not repeat itself—but it seems to rhyme. In addition to the turbulent politics of that time, there were moral leaders who fought for civil rights like Rosa Parks, Ella Baker, Dolores Huerta, John Lewis, and Robert Kennedy. These were women and men of integrity, courage, empathy, imagination, and wisdom who were advocates for racial equity, social justice, and the common good. I maintain that throughout history when human communities have faced seemingly insurmountable challenges, moral leaders like these have emerged to guide us toward better outcomes. Leadership matters. Leaders mobilize people and resources to achieve goals. Moral leadership matters even more. The “moral” in moral leadership is audacious and aspirational. It points beyond our interests to an imagined and possible future. The moral dimension assumes that humans are wired to respond positively to the presence of the right, the good, the true, and the beautiful. Consequently, moral leaders elevate us by expanding our capacities for empathy, interdependence, and solidarity with others. Moral leaders invite us to become better, grander versions of ourselves. In my new book, Moral Leadership: Integrity, Courage, Imagination, I suggest that instiFA LL / W INTER 2020
tutions, not just individuals, can and should provide moral leadership even in the worst of times. Institutions like Emory can set a tone in society, provide examples of a better future, and can challenge other institutions to repudiate unjust practices and aspire to embrace best practices. By virtue of their commitment to teaching and forming critical minds, creating new knowledge, and celebrating the best in humanity, universities and colleges have a special obligation to provide moral leadership in democratic societies. At a time of racial reckoning, truth telling, critically examining institutional pasts, and promoting a sustainable future, we need more of such leadership, and we need it now. Moral leadership is the highest calling available to human beings. Although we feel barely capable of it, the fact is that individuals and institutions can mobilize integrity, courage, and imagination to serve the common good. If our current challenges seem insurmountable, we only need to look to the 1960s—back to the future—to find moral visionaries who loved this nation enough to invest their best, and sacrifice their all to create a more perfect union for “we the people.”
WINSHIP DISTINGUISHED RESEARCH PROFESSOR IN CREATIVE WRITING
Brown serves as the director of the Creative Writing program in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and has received numerous awards and fellowships for his writing, including the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his collection of poems titled The Tradition. I will not shoot myself In the head, and I will not shoot myself In the back, and I will not hang myself With a trashbag, and if I do, I promise you, I will not do it In a police car while handcuffed Or in the jail cell of a town I only know the name of
Because I have to drive through it To get home. Yes, I may be at risk, But I promise you, I trust the maggots Who live beneath the floorboards Of my house to do what they must To any carcass more than I trust An officer of the law of the land To shut my eyes like a man Of God might, or to cover me with a sheet So clean my mother could have used it To tuck me in. When I kill me, I will Do it the same way most Americans do, I promise you: cigarette smoke Or a piece of meat on which I choke Or so broke I freeze In one of these winters we keep Calling worst. I promise if you hear Of me dead anywhere near A cop, then that cop killed me. He took Me from us and left my body, which is, No matter what we've been taught, Greater than the settlement A city can pay a mother to stop crying, And more beautiful than the new bullet Fished from the folds of my brain.
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AMON PIERSON 22C
A Student’s Perspective EXHAUSTED. ANGRY. SCARED TO DEATH. That’s the reality of being Black in America in 2020. As a young man, a Black man, a gay man, I cannot communicate the pain and exhaustion of my daily existence. Every morning I wake up in fear that today will be the day that I die through no real fault of my own. Every day I am confronted by systemic racism and hatred that says my life is expendable, worthless. From the health disparities to the recent police murders of Black men and women, Black oppression, suffering, and death form the foundation of every single institution in this country. We read about it, we see it firsthand every single day: Black mothers who die from complications giving birth, Black families that cannot obtain fair housing, Black children who struggle to get a quality education, and Black beings who are hunted daily by the police state. I truly believe that to achieve real, substantive change, we need to critically look at our systems and institutions and tear them down if they don’t work. That’s where my hope lies. Small, incremental, “performative” changes from allies,
corporations, politicians haven’t really done much to solve for anti-Blackness and racism. Emory is one of those institutions. Even though I fell in love with the university on my first visit, and still believe it is the right place for me, Emory is still affected by and perpetuates these systemic biases that put me and other Black students at a disadvantage. The university still has a long way to go in the name of equity and justice. Over the years, Emory has seemed to be mostly performative in its anti-racism efforts. I am cautiously awaiting to see how these efforts will actualize into real, lasting change. As president of the Black Student Alliance, I have encouraged and participated in anti-racism efforts across campus. My main objective has been to help ensure that Black students at Emory can survive and thrive. And I really think we’ve made a difference by providing programs that allow Black students to take a break from their struggles and by advocating for them in places that are not always the most welcoming to Blackness. Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced immense growth during my time at Emory. The trials that I have experienced here, both personal and academic, have helped me find my identity as a Black man. But there is much room for improvement, and I am working so that my fellow Black students and I can make Emory more equitable for everyone.
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PRESIDENT OF THE BLACK STUDENT ALLIANCE
Pierson is a junior studying comparative literature and art history at Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and he also serves as vice president of student affairs for the sixty-fifth College Council.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AND DIRECTOR OF THE JAMES WELDON JOHNSON INSTITUTE
Gillespie teaches about the intersection of race and politics, and her research focuses on the political leadership of the post–civil rights generation. She’s a renowned news commentator and author; her most recent book is Race and the Obama Administration.
Advice for the Newly “Woke” THIS SUMMER’S PROTESTS LEFT ME BOTH INSPIRED AND CONCERNED. I was pleased to
see the multiracial character of the demonstrations—seeing people of all backgrounds coming together to protest racism and racial violence was heartening. That so many different types of Americans were willing to risk their comfort and even their health to protest injustice helped to increase the visibility of the protests and made them more salient. It will force leaders to respond. As the struggle continues, though, we have to guard against replicating old hierarchies, even in the name of social justice. This type of intentionality takes on many forms and is contingent on many factors, including training, prior experience, and sometimes being at the right place, among the right people, at the right time. It is important to know that intentionality is not essentialist; everyone
should be free to contribute their gifts and talents in the cause of racial justice. However, we all must consider our privileges and disadvantages relative to our peers and how those can be used to dismantle or reinforce systemic racisms. In general, the lived experiences of Black people give us important insights about how we want to be free. It is important for privileged people to listen to what the racially vulnerable identify as problems instead of dictating to us what our problems are. It is also important to invite those most affected by inequality to lead discussions about remedies. This does not mean that there cannot be a dialogue or that one side will win every argument. But if policymakers and leaders approach these issues and Black communities with any hint of condescension or paternalism, it will only perpetuate the problem of racism. It is also important to understand that systemic racism extends beyond hyper-policing, bad schools, health disparities, and lack of economic development, though these are all serious problems. Systemic racism often intermingles with prejudice in a wide variety of settings (social, educational, occupational, etc.), where implicit biases interact with distorted notions of merit to systematically disadvantage people of color when they seek to enter these institutions and when they seek to advance in organizations. Indeed, systemic racism
is not just the province of government. Anywhere rules and practices are manipulated to consistently benefit one racial or ethnic group over another, systemic racism is present. As much as we must demand action from elected officials, we have to hold the mirror up within our own work and social spheres to ask if we have blind spots. There are many things we can do to be change agents in our own domains to combat racism. My recommendation to the newly woke is to acknowledge what you do not know and humbly accept the tutelage of those who do. This involves deep listening and education. There is a long scholarly tradition of African American studies that goes back generations. Read the scholarship and promote the work of academics who devoted their careers to studying these questions long before people took to the streets this summer. Finally, I would urge more privileged readers to relinquish their advantages in service of the greater good. For instance, if you feel compelled to start a new racial justice initiative but have little to no experience with these issues, now is the time to play a supportive role. Find experts who are well versed in these issues to lead the initiative and support them accordingly (financially and otherwise). With the right collective balance of humility (from the privileged) and self-determination (from the marginalized), we will find that we all have the space to succeed and to be seen.
PEARL K. DOWE
ASA GRIGGS CANDLER PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AND AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES
Dowe bridges her teaching and research in African American studies between Oxford College and Emory College of Arts and Sciences, where she focuses on Black womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s political ambition and public leadership.
What I Know/What I Hope I GREW UP IN SAVANNAH, during the post–civil rights era when the public system was under a court order to develop and maintain a desegregated school system. From first to twelfth grade, I was bussed along with other Black students from Black middle- and working-class neighborhoods to majority white schools. Many of my school memories stem from how I was one of a few Black students taking advanced level courses. In this desegregated environment, I learned quickly that I was different, and that there was a deference afforded white students that was not afforded me. Despite my intelligence and capabilities, I was still treated as if I were invisible. As I became an adult it became clear to me that being a woman was an additional component of being deemed as “Other.” And while I remain firmly grounded in my humanity—and the humanity of Black people—police brutality and the impact of structural racism says that I don’t matter and that my humanity should not be defended. This latest season of protest and calls of change has been heartening, but I know all too well the ebb and flow of equality and justice. Symbolic overtures—tearing down statues, removing racist logos, and the like—along with big dollar financial acts of philanthropy are (once again) being presented as substantive solutions to fix inequalities and promote social justice. But these meager offerings will not change the impact of four-hundred years of systemic subjugation that continues to manifest itself in everything from unpunished violence to vast disparities in wealth and health for Black people. While the effort by allies to enact real change is always welcome, there is still much that rings hollow to me. Growing up in the South, I had a firsthand view of power in action. Desegregation was meant to provide equal opportunity, but power was still wielded to control where I went to school and shaped classroom dynamics that worked against me and my fellow Black students. When power is seen as too forceful, it shifts to something that looks softer. These softer ways are more subtle, but they continue to subjegate and tamper down acts of resistance. As a Black woman, an academic, a social scientist, I am often asked my perspective on where the country is headed at this moment. While I am reluctant to believe that it will drastically change in the near future, I am still strongly confident in who I am and who I know Black people to be: Where there are symbolic overtures from allies, there is a righteous indignation to advance justice by Black people. Where there is brutality, there is a culture of community and dignity. Where there is an acceptance of the mediocre, there is a commitment to excellence. Where there is fear, there is an indomitable will to hold onto hope. It is my hope that what I believe will eventually give me new memories of a just and humane country for everyone.
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FRED SMITH JR.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF LAW
Smith is a scholar of the federal judiciary, constitutional law, and local government, and was named Emory School of Law’s 2019 Outstanding Professor of the Year.
Building Up, Not Tearing Down DEBATES RAGE ABOUT THE FATE of Confederate
monuments and memorials across the United States. How we remember victims of mass horrors, and how we remember their perpetrators, determines whether we become complicit in the violence and destructiveness of the past. When we decide what to do with Confederate monuments, or what to name a building, we are deciding whose memories we value and venerate. We are deciding whose lives and legacies matter. In my mind, for all the talk of what we should tear down, there is far too little talk about who and what we should be building up. One way to uplift the memories and legacies of Blacks and other victims of those past horrors is by increasing the number of monuments and memorials in their honor. Some of my current research at the Emory School of Law is about the interests and rights of those who came before us—our ancestors. Much of American law is designed to protect the memories of the dead from exploitation and undue degradation, and to protect our ability to leave a legacy even after we are gone. This is characterized, in part, by the legal right to a decent burial, rules against destroying grave sites, laws enforcing written wills, and civil rights laws banning discrimination after death. All of these reflect the intuition that our nation’s interest in human dignity, memory, and will does not end at the grave. This same intuition has implications for how we think about monuments. Today, there is a colossal gap between the number of monuments and sites honoring colonizers and Confederates, as compared to memorials to the colonized, the captured, and the controlled. This inequality not only harms us, the living, but it also facilitates a perpetual assault on the memories of the dead victims of police killings, public lynchings, and other
atrocities. It robs them of their ability to leave a legacy and help shape our collective memory about the past. As our values become more egalitarian and virtuous, we must do our part to ensure that the dead victims are among the beneficiaries—that their equal dignity is respected and their memories are uplifted. This approach helps explain Europe’s little plaques called Stolpersteine, or “stumbling stones,” that present the names of the victims of the Holocaust right in front of the places where they once lived. The plaques tell us when and where the victim was born, kidnapped, and murdered. Closer to home, Bryan Stevenson and his Equal Injustice Initiative helped create in Montgomery, Alabama, the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, where Black lives are remembered and their lynching deaths mourned. Moving forward on a path to greater equality and justice, these are the types of names, stories, memories, and legacies we should invest more resources into knowing. Both for our sake, and for theirs.
CARLTON MACKEY 05T
DIRECTOR OF THE EMORY ETHICS & THE ARTS PROGRAM
Identifying first and foremost as an artist, Mackey also teaches, empowers, and inspires future generations of artists and scholars at Emory to use their talents for the social good—to help catalyze change, start dialogues, and challenge preconceived notions.
The Art of Resistance FOR ME, THE ROLE OF THE ARTIST is to translate the longings of the hearts of the people. This is my mandate. This is the weight of what this moment in time—this moment of protest and unrest—means to me and my function as an artist. People lean on artists to represent them and to speak on their behalf in ways they may feel unable to. We have a unique responsibility to proclaim the expressed desires of the communities we are part of and to channel their righteous rage into liberating expression. This is the wellspring from which our art comes. But I believe the true transformative power of art comes in not only reflecting back to the community a view of itself in its moment of crisis, but offering it a vision of what it has the power to be—what it is worthy of becoming on the other side of the struggle. One of the beautiful things I've seen happening and that I want to contribute to is showing a vision of our strength, of our power, of our resilience, of our beauty as Black people—as a reminder that what others say we are is not the final word. Using art in all of its forms can be a revolutionary act. It is radical acts of self-care and radical acts of love by Black people, among Black FA LL / W INTER 2020
people, and on Black people, that will counter the epic amount of violence, misrepresentation, and oppression that is beginning to be acknowledged now, but which we have been experiencing for hundreds of years. Art is no more important than, but no less important than the radical acts of resistance that we're seeing in the streets coupled with the radical calls for change. This is a moment for all of us to seize. However, whatever it looks like—whether it is a fundamental restructuring of the way you live life, choosing to no longer be complicit in relationships with partners who are racists, speaking up in the organizations that you have an influence within—it’s time to move past the excuse that it’s not quite the time. This is the time. It is the time to dismantle, and it is the time to build. This is our collective charge. This is the movement we are part of. These are the goals we will achieve, and this is the promise we will keep to make this movement sustainable beyond this moment.
LANITA GREGORY CAMPBELL
DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE FOR RACIAL AND CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT (RACE)
Through the Office for RACE, Campbell assists the Campus Life effort to provide opportunities for students to explore concepts of race and racial justice through education, awareness, activism, and identity development.
Taking Advantage of a Trending Moment DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION work is trending. Given the state of our current moment, however, it is clear that this has come at a high cost. Against the backdrop of a global pandemic that has taken the lives of over 215,000 people in the United States alone, millions have participated in demonstrations across the globe over the untimely deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and others at the hands of state-sanctioned violence. As the director for Emory’s Office for Racial and Cultural Engagement (RACE), I wrestle with this reality. Certainly, it is great that more folks seem to be willing to listen, converse, and engage in dialogues related to race and racism in the world. It is also great that more folks seem to be delving into books, committing to self-reflexive work, and holding themselves and others accountable for persistent injustices that have gone on for too long. But I cannot help but question how long will this energy be sustained? I live and breathe this work—and, thus, know firsthand that it is both necessary and exhausting. At the Office for RACE, we support Emory students. Our students are protesting in the streets for racial justice; our students are signing and organizing petitions and starting social media movements; our students are also demanding structural change at their very own university. These students motivate me to keep fighting for them. We fully anticipated welcoming our students back after the long, hot summer of 2020. We knew that they would be reenergized by what happened over the break. And we knew they would want to capitalize on the new air of activism that had been stirred. So, my team and I worked vigorously to prepare the resources they may need—but I warned them that this too shall pass.
You see, I have a different type of engagement with my students. I am tough, my humor is dry, but I am honest— perhaps too honest. So, although I encourage students to embark on this journey, I inform them that there will be rough terrain ahead. But as long as I know that they are committed to antiracist work for the long haul, they know that I am along for the ride. And I want to invite as many people as possible into the fold before the spotlight dims and the world has moved onto other causes. While I hold fast to the idea that this moment has the potential to become a blinding ball of fire that will be the spark to combat anti-Black racism, as well as persistent racial and gender inequities, history tells us otherwise. Regardless of the outcome of this moment, I call on my colleagues at Emory and other universities to stay the course. Continue to inspire students in their pursuits, encourage them to take risks, and, perhaps mostly importantly, perform radical acts of love. At the Office for RACE, we will. Because for now, diversity, equity, and inclusion work is trending.
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V A C C I N A T I O N
PH O T O G R A PH Y K AY H I N TO N
E X P L O R A T I O N
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HOW EMORY GOT INVOLVED IN DEVELOPING AND TESTING VACCINES, FROM WORKING ON HIV-AIDS EFFORTS DECADES AGO TO PARTICIPATING IN
PHASE 3 COVID-19 TRIALS TODAY. By Shannon McCaffrey
I LLU S TR ATI ON J O H A N N E G OO D M A N
IN A SMALL EXAM ROOM ON THE EMORY UNIVERSITY
campus, Dorothy Scott pushes up the short sleeve on her glittery gold top. A nurse checks her blood pressure and scribbles down the results. A few minutes later, Scott winces as a needle pierces her vein. Scott, of Braselton, has just become the newest participant in one of the largest and most promising COVID-19 vaccine trials in nation. She is ninety-one years old. “I wanted to help,” she says. As the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the nation, volunteers like Scott, have stepped up as everyday heroes. Tens of thousands of them have arrived at vaccine testing sites to roll up their sleeves for science. One of those sites is Emory, which has emerged as key player in the global race to find a vaccine. Emory was one of the first sites to enroll participants in the nation’s inaugural COVID vaccine trial back in March. It’s home to the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Consortium (IDCRC), which is helping to steer national COVID research efforts. A homegrown vaccine candidate is also in the works, fueled by a large federal grant. The vaccines—along with other COVID-19 research and clinical trials—have trained a spotlight on Emory’s deep roots in the worlds of infectious diseases. In a matter of months, COVID research across the university has attracted nearly $90 million in outside funding. The stakes couldn’t be higher. The death toll from COVID-19 continues to rise. The economy is reeling. Schools are struggling to educate kids remotely. There is widespread agreement among public health experts that a safe and effective vaccine is the single best way to return to normal. “There has been no other time in history where we’ve needed to develop a vaccine so quickly,” Walter
Orenstein, professor and associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center. “This is, by far, the most serious pandemic in our lifetime.” THE TEN DOLLAR DEAL THAT CHANGED ATLANTA. In
some ways, Emory has been preparing for moments such as this since World War II. In the American South, soggy and searingly hot conditions were an ideal breeding ground for mosquitos. Troops stationed in the region were becoming infected with malaria at alarming rates. In response, the federal government established a temporary public health agency in Atlanta. With the end of the war, officials realized the value of an organization devoted to communicable diseases. Since a critical mass of experienced disease fighters were already in Georgia, that’s where they stayed. In 1947, Coca-Cola Company president and philanthropist Robert W. Woodruff lured the fledgling public health agency from downtown Atlanta to a plot of land adjacent to Emory’s campus. The federal government would pay a token ten dollars for fifteen acres of land on Clifton Road. The agency would go on to become the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In other words, Emory and the CDC grew up together as neighbors. “The CDC is very much a part of the Atlanta and Emory communities,” says David S. Stephens, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine in Emory University School of Medicine and vice president for research of Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center. “Why Atlanta? Why Emory? I think it goes back to decisions that were made some seventy years ago, that led to the CDC being established here. That has attracted a lot of people to Atlanta for public health and vaccines.” FA LL / W INTER 2020
750 volunteers are expected to enroll at three Emory sites as part of the Phase 3 trial for a vaccine candidate codeveloped by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
A NEW CENTER AND A STAR RECRUIT. Over the
years, Emory’s reputation in health sciences continued to grow. But in the 1990s, an ambitious new plan took shape that would catapult the university to the next level. In 1992, the CDC announced a grim milestone: AIDS had become the number one cause of death for men ages twenty-five to forty-four. That same year, Richard Compans arrived at Emory and took over as the chairman of the School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Compans had been researching an HIV vaccine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham before coming to Atlanta and wanted to continue to build on that work. At the same time, a new organization was just getting off the ground that would prove invaluable. The Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), jointly funded with public and private investments, was tasked with making the state a magnet for scientific innovation. A centerpiece of GRA’s strategy was an eminent scholar program designed to help academic institutions attract extraordinary talent. “I thought vaccine development might appeal to GRA and it did,” Compans recalls. Armed with funding, Compans went in search of a vaccine eminent scholar. He knew right away who he wanted for the job. Out in Los Angeles, Rafi Ahmed was happily
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ensconced in a lab at UCLA. His cutting-edge research on the fundamentals of immune memory had made waves, and he had become something of a rock star in the world of immunology. When he got a phone call about starting a new vaccine center at Emory, he knew very little about the school or Atlanta. “It was a new concept at the time,” Ahmed says of the idea of a vaccine center. “There were maybe two or three others in the country.” “Everyone told me I was crazy to leave UCLA for Emory,” Ahmed says. “But I just felt that there was this incredible opportunity.” UCLA had the luster of a massive research university. But at Emory, he would have the chance to build a vaccine research center from the ground up. The CDC was part of the attraction. So was the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, a world-class facility vital to the kind of research Ahmed wanted to do. He arrived in Atlanta in 1995 and never looked back. “A lot of wonderful things happened. It all took off so quickly,” says Ahmed, who serves as the Emory Vaccine Center’s top director. The center opened its twenty-thousand square feet of office and lab space on the campus of the Yerkes facility. Each floor has a Biosafety Level 3 lab, able to safely handle some of the most dangerous viruses on the planet. The center pulls infectious disease and pediatric specialists
PHOTOGRAPHY JACK KEARSE
COVID-19 VACCINE TRIAL UNDERWAY About
PHASE 3 OF THE TRIAL IS MUCH LARGER, ENROLLING SOME THIRTY-THOUSAND ADULT VOLUNTEERS ACROSS EIGHTY SEPARATE SITES.
from across Emory, including from the School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health. The Hope Clinic was soon created as the Vaccine Center's clinical arm, conducting human trials to test the safety efficacy of vaccines and other drugs. Orenstein, a veteran of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and former director of the United States Immunization program at the CDC, came aboard to lend vaccine policy expertise. The Emory Vaccine Center was now not just about basic science, but about clinical trials, translational studies, and public policy. “It’s a very unique set up,” Ahmed says. “Soup to nuts” COVID-19 VACCINE TRIALS. The center’s
signature work on HIV has proven useful in the pandemic.In May, Rama Amara, an HIV researcher at the Vaccine Center and Yerkes, received a $582,000 two-year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to transform his research on an HIV vaccine into one that could work on the coronavirus. The first vaccine candidate to make
it to human trials in the United States was one codeveloped by pharmaceutical company Moderna and NIAID. Emory was one of just three sites to enroll participants for Phase 1. Early results are encouraging. In a pair of papers published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers said that in Phase 1, mRNA1273 was generally well tolerated and produced a strong immune response in healthy adult volunteers, both young and old. The lead author on one of those papers is Evan Anderson, a professor at Emory’s School of Medicine and a principal investigator for the vaccine trial at Emory-Children’s Center. His paper showed that the vaccine stimulated a strong immune response in participants fifty-six years and older. Anderson said that’s a hopeful sign because immune response generally declines with age. Now a much larger Phase 3 trial is underway. Some thirty-thousand volunteers will participate at eighty sites around the country. Emory is expected to enroll about 750 people at the Hope Clinic, Emory-Children’s
Center, and the Ponce de Leon Center for Clinical Research. Moderna says that if everything continues to go well in the trial, the company could apply to federal regulators for emergency use authorization before the end of the year. Emory is expected to host other vaccine trials as well later in the year. “Without a vaccine, I don’t think that we can really move past COVID,” said Anderson, who is also a pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Phase 3 of the vaccine trial is randomized and placebo controlled, meaning participants—like Dorothy Scott—don’t know if they are being injected with the vaccine or saline. Volunteers are watched closely for two years to see if they contract COVID-19 as they go about their daily lives. While the trial is enrolling older adults—who are at higher risk of having serious complications from COVID— Scott remembers the race for a vaccine to combat another lethal menace: polio. The retired insurance office worker says those days were scary; the polio virus left some paralyzed and others dead. Scott was in her mid-twenties when a vaccine emerged to combat the disabling disease, and she hasn’t thought much about it since then. Until now. “This,” Scott says, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, “is even worse.”
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COVID-19 VACCINE CANDIDATE USES GROUNDBREAKING MRNA TECHNOLOGY
into the field. The urgency of a global pandemic has kicked the effort into overdrive.
Of the leading candidates in the federal gov-
ernment’s “Operation Warp Speed” COVID-19 Emory is participating in the clinical trial of
he COVID-19 vaccine candidate that
mRNA-1273, an investigational vaccine code-
volunteers at Emory University could
setts-based biotech company, and the National
researchers are testing on hundreds of
might become the first commercially available vaccine to use mRNA technology to prevent infection in humans.
To understand what that means, it’s important
to understand how vaccines have traditionally
worked. To build immunity, doctors typically inject
patients with small amounts of the very germ they are trying to protect against. Sometimes it’s a live,
but weakened version; that’s the case with the measles,
THE SPEED OF COVID-19
mumps, and rubella (MMR)
vaccine is inactive, meaning
HAS BEEN HELPED ALONG BY THE NATURE OF THE VIRUS. RESEARCHERS HAD ALREADY BEEN WORKING TO COUNTER THE SARS VIRUS, WHICH FUELED A DEADLY OUTBREAK IN 2003.
veloped by Moderna, a Cambridge, MassachuInstitute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Pfizer/bioNTech also has an mRNA vaccine in clinical trials.
Rafi Ahmed, director of the Emory Vaccine
Center, called the mRNA technology “promising.” But he also struck a note of caution. “There is
no proven record of how it works as a licensed vaccine,” Ahmed says.
Still, Ahmed believes that the technology is
appealing as a means to combat the growing
COVID-19 pandemic for one key reason: speed. Traditional virus-based vaccines can take
vaccine. Other times the
years to refine, grow, and scale up for mass
scientists have killed the
created in a lab in a matter of days, allowing mas-
virus or bacteria. Polio and rabies are examples.
But with mRNA tech-
nology, the patient is never
production. A synthetic mRNA vaccine could be sive amounts to be manufactured rapidly.
“It’s very quick,” Ahmed says. “And it should
give good antibody response.”
The speed of COVID-19 vaccine devel-
injected with a virus, either
opment has been helped along by the nature
scientists are trying to trick
working to counter the SARS virus, which fueled
living or dead. Instead,
the body’s immune system by essentially hacking socalled messenger RNA.
Scientists using this
of the virus. Researchers had already been
a deadly outbreak in 2003. That research had
identified the unique spike protein as a promising vaccine target.
Some of that work has been repurposed
technique create a synthetic mRNA strand that
into development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Labs
That’s packaged into nanoparticles and shuttled
repository of research already in hand.
carries the genetic code for the part of the virus. into cells swaddled in a protective layer of lipids.
are moving at a rapid pace, building on the rich But labs are one thing. The true test for
When the body reads the code it thinks a virus is
mRNA-1273 will come in the months-long Phase
antibodies to fight the invader.
Does it work?—Shannon McCaffrey
present and springs into action, manufacturing
advances and funding have breathed fresh life
vaccine program, two use mRNA platforms.
make history. If it’s proven safe and effective, it
for decades. But in recent years, new scientific
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3 clinical trials that ask one simple question:
PHOTOGRAPHY GETTY IMAGES
The mRNA approach isn’t brand new.
Researchers have been tinkering with the idea
WOR LD PANDEMIC HITS
THE PEACE CORPS
PHOTOGRAPHY GETTY IMAGES
BY STEVEN BOYD SAUM 89C 90G
COVID-19 led to an unprecedented evacuation of Peace Corps volunteers—among them nearly two dozen Emory alumni—from around the world on March 15, 2020. As uncertainty about the pandemic persists, what happens next for the agency, its volunteers, and the vital humanitarian needs it serves both in the US and around the globe?
FORCED TO LEAVE TOP LEFT: Peace Corps volunteers in Moldova take final photos together as they congregate one last time before flying back to the United States. TOP RIGHT: Volunteers in Nepal hug and share heartbroken goodbyes, unsure if they will ever see each other or their country of service again. BOTTOM: Peace Corps volunteer Adam Greenberg returns to San Diego on an almost completely empty flight on March 23.
Some two dozen Emory alumni were among those volunteers ripped from their communities and countries, sometimes with only a few hours’ notice. In Ghana, Brown says, it had already been a tough several months for his Peace Corps program. In October 2019, one Peace Corps volunteer died after a tragic gas accident in her home. And, later on, thirty-nine volunteers
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had to be relocated out of northern Ghana because of security concerns from across the border. But Brown is no stranger to such challenges. He has served as Ghana’s country director since 2018. He led Peace Corps Benin before that, and he had served as a volunteer in Niger from 1996 to 1998. When the time to evacuate came that week in March, Brown faced another personal challenge: His wife
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF PEACE CORPS
As February 2020 rolled into March and COVID-19 began to burn its way across the globe, Gordon Brown 95C knew that it was only a matter of time before it hit Ghana. As country director for the oldest Peace Corps program in the world, Brown is charged, first and foremost, with overseeing the safety and well-being of scores of in-country volunteers. Every day brought news of more nations closing borders and suspending flights. “It looked like Ghana was going to close,” Brown says. “It happened within the span of probably half a day.” Peace Corps, a federal government agency, had already evacuated volunteers from China in January and closed that country’s program. Volunteers were pulled from Mongolia at the end of February. In Ukraine and elsewhere, other evacuations had begun. On, Sunday, March 15, US-based Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen made the unprecedented decision to evacuate all 7,300 volunteers from more than sixty countries. What followed was a massive logistical effort—and a shunting aside of the norms of how Peace Corps likes to operate: consensus driven, community focused. With the evacuation, there just wasn’t time.
had injured her leg and was in a wheelchair. “When it was time to evacuate, we had the eighty volunteers, my wife in her wheelchair, our three-year-old, our seven-year-old, plus luggage,” he recalls “It was difficulty with level ten on that one.” Lucy Baker 18C had already made her way home to the San Francisco Bay Area when the global evacuation unfolded. She had been serving as a health volunteer in southwestern Mongolia when the outbreak of coronavirus occurred in Wuhan, China.
program suspended operations. “I had about thirty-six hours to pack up everything and say goodbye,” Baker says. Colleagues came over at midnight to say farewell. “That was very hard.” Baker and the newest volunteers were put on “administrative hold,” with hopes they would return in a few months. But mid-March, when the global evacuation began, Baker learned via an FAQ page that her service had ended. It was a new level of heartbreak. For Baker’s former classmate Diane Glover 16Ox 18C, the evacuation meant
Volunteers had to self-quarantine for two weeks; sometimes that meant staying in a hotel or with friends to protect vulnerable family members. Mongolia was one of the first countries that quickly went into preventive lockdown. Baker had been teaching in a Mongolian high school and helped her colleagues implement a new health curriculum. She studied biology at Emory, and she’s long been intrigued by how infectious diseases affect us— both our bodies and, as she says “how the world reacts to them—as evidenced now.” Her junior year at Emory took her to Botswana to study HIV-AIDS and public health. She was drawn to Peace Corps service because she wanted to give something in return. After two years volunteering in Mongolia, she was planning to stay on for a third year, working with an NGO, called Youth for Health, in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. But she was destined to go home much earlier than she had planned. Korean Air, which provides 70 percent of flights out of Mongolia, halted flights and set a different endgame in motion. If Peace Corps needed to medically evacuate someone, it might not be possible. So the country
that she had to leave her birthplace. Glover was born in the Philippines and left at age eleven to come to the United States, where she was raised by her older sister in Washington State and Georgia. She returned to the country as a Peace Corps volunteer in July 2018, with her assignment as a youth development volunteer taking her to Tacloban City on the island of Leyte, where she worked with street children. One key effort she helped lead was a project that rented out skateboards to kids— but not for money. Skateboards were used to attract the children into the community office where she worked. Every minute they participated in training—reading, writing, gardening— bought skateboarding time. Working in youth development taught Glover a new way to redefine success: “I couldn’t necessarily say, ‘I transformed six lives today,’” she shares. “Most of the time we don’t see success until further down the road in their lives.” Just when she was settling in and making an impact, Glover’s road took a hard turn.
Sarah Bair 19C was in her village in Togo when she got a call from a friend at 4 a.m. on the morning of Monday, March 16. Bair was working as a health volunteer; human health and international relations had drawn her to Emory. She was working in the prefecture of Tchamba—“the Muslim capital of Togo,” she says. She went to mosque every Friday and learned both how religion affects health and how to connect health education to religion. She also coached two girls’ soccer teams. She used one practice each week for a health talk—washing hands, nutrition, setting a healthy lifestyle. She had two days to say goodbye. Danny Herres 09C was in Malawi, serving as a community health specialist in a village of about one thousand people near Lilongwe. He found out about the evacuation at 4:30 in the morning, via WhatsApp. He had three hours to prepare before a car arrived to take him to the capital. Herres was the first Peace Corps volunteer to serve the area. “No one had ever come in as a foreigner, built relationships, been a community member, and then found other motivated individuals and kind of helped them grow in the way that I was doing,” he says. Much of his work involved HIV-AIDS education and prevention. There was a grassroots soccer program serving youth ages ten to nineteen, where he used soccer drills as metaphors to teach about the differences between safe and unprotected sex. There was also a project with a local secondary school regarding HIV stigma and bullying, an HIV support group focused on nutrition and gardening vegetables, an initiative teaching female students how to make reusable sanitary pads, and a project on malaria prevention strategies. “For me it was just heartbreaking to leave.”
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II. HOMECOMINGS— AND A NATIONAL RECKONING
RETURNING TO A CHANGED HOME Peace Corps volunteers were welcomed back to the US with open arms, but they were not prepared fully for the conditions to which they returned: a burgeoning coronavirus pandemic that was shutting down commerce and forcing citizens to shelter in place and an uprising of protest and social unrest against systemic racism.
Many of them were hurting and struggling, says Maricarmen SmithMartinez 04C. She was a volunteer herself in Costa Rica from 2004 to 2006, and now serves as chair of the board of the nonprofit National Peace Corps Association (NPCA)—an independent advocacy organization that works to bolster support for Peace Corps in Congress, to amplify the social impact of the Peace Corps community, and, in a broad sense, to ensure that Peace Corps is the best it can be. NPCA rolled out a program called Global Reentry to support returning volunteers with resources, advice, advocacy, and training. The Peace Corps community did a lot of self-organizing, too. “It’s very inspiring to
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see how people are responding and providing support in any way they can for the evacuees,” says Smith-Martinez. “A listening ear, a bag of groceries, a ride from the airport, a home post-quarantine.” Some evacuated volunteers sought to help communities in the US: making masks, donating blood, working at food banks, working as contact tracers, or helping with COVID testing. In Congress, multiple pieces of bipartisan legislation are in the pipeline to put returned volunteers to work battling the pandemic, though so far none has passed. What did pay off: NPCA advocacy efforts to extend health insurance benefits, and to get the Department of Labor to issue
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF PEACE CORPS
The global evacuation was a tremendous feat of logistics for everyone involved: the agency, local staff, volunteers, and embassy and host country partners. For the several thousand volunteers, it was also a rude welcome home. They returned to a country hit by pandemic and economic maelstrom. Volunteers had to self-quarantine for two weeks; sometimes that meant staying in a hotel or with friends to protect vulnerable family members. Peace Corps closed service for volunteers to unlock some benefits, but that led to the perception that volunteers had been “fired,” as one Washington Post headline put it. In fact, one sticking point for returning volunteers has long been that they’re not eligible for unemployment—since technically they’re not employees. Reentry is often hard, even under normal circumstances; many argue it’s the toughest part of the whole experience. It’s even tougher for volunteers yanked from communities with no notice.
rules that evacuated volunteers were eligible for pandemic unemployment assistance. This summer has also begun a national reckoning long overdue. Since the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day, protests have swept across this nation and scores of others: against the killing of unarmed Black men, women, and children by
changed. And Peace Corps needs to change, too. In part, there needs to be a greater emphasis on “solidarity, not charity,” as one speaker from Nepal put it at the summit, and a better understanding of how responsibility is woven together with privilege. In July, Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen brought on board a senior adviser for diversity, equity, and
Some evacutated volunteers sought to help communities in the states: making masks, donating blood, working at food banks, working as contact tracers, or helping with COVID-19 testing.
police and others. As a society, we’re grappling with hard questions of how to confront systemic racism and how it has shaped institutions large and small—including Peace Corps. The sometimes painful experiences of volunteers who are people of color, and how the agency needs to do better with addressing racism on all fronts, was part of the conversation woven through a series of town halls and a global ideas summit that NPCA hosted in July. The premise of those meetings was to ask: What are the big ideas for Peace Corps going forward? Gordon Brown notes that as a government agency, Peace Corps has been one of the most progressive in terms of racial justice and diversity. But along with efforts to ensure that Peace Corps reflects the best of American ideals in the volunteer experience, there’s still a long way to go in ensuring that Blacks and other people of color hold leadership positions—as country directors and above. As Maricarmen Smith-Martinez noted in her closing remarks for the summit, it’s clear that the work of Peace Corps can’t be just a return to business as usual. The world has
inclusion and announced a task force. What recommended changes look like more broadly is also taking shape, in part, in reports for policymakers and the public that NPCA is working on for the fall, driven by conversations in the Peace Corps community of a quarter million returned volunteers and former staff.
III. THE WAY BACK “Fundamentally, Peace Corps is a grassroots program about friendship
and having that connection in the world,” says Smith-Martinez. “Peace Corps has a very important role to play in reestablishing world trust.” So when will volunteers return to the field? Initially, Peace Corps announced October 2020. Now the estimate for first redeployment is January 2021. But this won’t happen all at once. “It’s gonna be massive in terms of charting the way forward, what the focus areas are going to be, what the footprint is going to be, what countries, what sectors,” says Ghana Country Director Gordon Brown. “All of that is going to have to be decided on an individual basis.” Peace Corps will be watching how embassies around the world assess situations—and decisions won’t be unilateral. After all, we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. “As we solve the issue in the United States—and I’m hopeful we will—that doesn’t mean that every other country has solved it for themselves,” Brown says. “For each of the sixty-one countries, both sides will need to make the determination that it’s safe for volunteers to return. Negotiating that area is going to require some real diplomatic skill.” In Mongolia, community spread was never a problem; they’re eager to have back volunteers. Ukraine is asking to expand the program—already the largest in the world. One possibility is deploying Peace Corps response volunteers first. Traditional volunteers serve a two-year assignment; response volunteers are experienced professionals sent on short-term assignments. But in the post-COVID world, safety comes first. “I don’t want anybody to be in the position where they will get sick,” Brown says. “There’s no room for error.” Meanwhile, this summer Peace Corps announced a new program with
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his parents’ house in North Carolina before traveling to the isle of Lesvos to work with refugees, supervising a COVID-19 response project with the
In Congress, multiple pieces of bipartisan legislation are in the pipeline to put returned volunteers to work battling the pandemic, though so far none have passed.
can be used to permanently close the program in China. As for evacuated volunteers, what now? Lucy Baker, who left Mongolia, has taken a job with Public Interest Research Group in Washington, D.C. One basic lesson from all this, she says: “Curveballs are real.” Diane Glover, back from the Philippines, is working at Emory as a contract coordinator. “The fact that most of the volunteers are brokenhearted just means that we were doing good,” she says. “You know, Peace Corps volunteers truly represent the best of America.” Daniel Herres stayed briefly at
Starfish Foundation. He’s in touch with friends in Malawi weekly, though he’s dismayed that projects have been put on hold. In September he began a master’s in humanitarian aid and conflict at the University of London. “I would love to see more Emory alumni apply for Peace Corps,” he says. Sarah Bair returned home to the Washington, D.C., area to stay with family. Seeing that she wouldn’t be able to return to service quickly, she was grateful that Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health extended application deadlines and encouraged volunteers to apply. She’s just begun a master's program, concentrating on commu-
HOPE PREVAILS Volunteers like Emory alumni Danny Herres (photo left) and Lucy Baker (photo below) are hopeful that the Peace Corps will soon be able to return to full operations and that they and others may have further opportunities to serve in countries like Malawi and Mongolia.
nity health at the Hubert Department of Global Health. She also submitted her application for reinstatement as a volunteer—waiting to see if and when that opportunity reopens. Peace Corps was founded by President John F. Kennedy in 1961—so the agency is just on the cusp of sixtieth anniversary celebrations with no volunteers in the field. “When I tell the history to new volunteers, I remind them that 1961 was the year of Africa,” Brown says. “Some twenty countries became independent. The Prime Minister of England, Harold Macmillan, gave a speech in 1960 and said, Look, the winds of change are blowing, and we can’t stop them. The winds of freedom.” Very different winds are blowing right now. Brown studied philosophy at Emory. He was drawn to it because it posed big questions. Here’s one: “How do we stay true to the original mission—the philosophical underpinnings of Peace Corps? It takes courage to stand up and say, it’s 2020 and I still believe in being committed to something. I believe in things we can’t see. There are things that are not monetary that are good in this world. At Emory, we talk about the generosity of spirit. You know, at its heart, Peace Corps is supposed to be about world peace and friendship. If we don’t always achieve our development goals, as long as we are amplifying goodwill and amplifying world peace and exhibiting the best of what America is supposed to be about, and sharing that with people of other countries, then it’s been a great success.” Steven Boyd Saum served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine from 1994 to 1996 and now works as director of strategic communications for the National Peace Corps Association.
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PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF PEACE CORPS
Vietnam to begin sending volunteers in 2022. And tucked into the House bill authorizing foreign aid for 2021 is a provision that none of that money
E M O RY E V E RY W H E R E
ANNOUNCING THE 2020 CL ASS OF THE EMORY ALUMNI ASSOCIATION ’S
Every year, we receive hundreds of nominations and narrow it down to the best of the best. In this year’s 40 Under Forty, you’ll meet social justice warriors and educators, a pioneer of safe skin care, and an official working to restore trust in government, among many other impressive alumni. Each one of the forty is making their mark in a unique way, but they share the common thread of striving to make the world a better place.
LEADING THE WAY
This year’s 40 Under Forty honorees include educator Chrissybil Boulin 15C (left), music entrepreneur Caren Kelleher 05B (middle), and civic-minded innovator Rohit Malhotra 08C (right), along with thirty-seven other young Emory alumni.
Profiles by Elizabeth Durel For more in- depth stor ies about this year ’s 40 Under For t y award rec ipients, go to: A L U M N I . E M O R Y. E D U/ AWA R D S/4 0 - U N D E R- F O R T Y. H T M L . W hile you’re there, make sure to nominate Emor y alumni for next year ’s honor s.
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E M O RY E V E RY W H E R E
40 UND E R FORT Y
Before ADAM ABRAMS 03C became a partner at the strategic communications firm Seven Letter, he walked the halls of the White House, serving as a spokesman and regional communications director for President Barack Obama. “Finding that I was on a path that included both politics and writing was really exciting,” says Abrams.
OLUWATOMILOBA “TOMI” MERCY ADEMOKUN 04PH has dedicated her
An Episcopal priest serving as chief of staff for a diocese covering Southwest Texas and New Mexico, LEE CURTIS 13T welcomes the challenges that arise when faith, culture, and justice overlap. Before the pandemic, he worked in two states and across the US–Mexico border, working to organize congregations and communities to be thriving, faithful witnesses.
Always eager to learn and to help, AMOS DAVIS 10L 10T came to Candler School of Theology with an interdisciplinary humanities degree and immediately enrolled in Emory School of Law. Now senior counsel at Uber after several years in The Coca Cola Company’s legal department, Davis says that at Emory, “opportunity is there for the taking.”
career to addressing public health concerns among vulnerable populations in Africa, the Caribbean, and the US. During her studies at Emory, an uncle died of tuberculosis and “that spurred my interest in public health—why people die of preventable illnesses,” she says
After the 2008 financial crisis, MATTHEW BELZ 05C 09L joined the US Justice Department to bring relief to victims of mortgage fraud from the recession, serving as a lead attorney for a team that reached historic settlements for bank fraud. Now Belz is tackling fraud in the coronavirus pandemic and the opioid crisis.
CHRISSYBIL BOULIN 15C
A patent attorney by day,
Now putting her skills to work on Capitol Hill,
KIMBERLYNN DAVIS 08G concentrates on a range of high-level areas from patent prosecution to portfolio strategy. By night, Davis is heavily involved in her local community, championing equality and advocating for greater student resources.
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has been a professional educator for most of her life. When she was twelve, she would tutor her classmates to earn spending money. Now the founder and CEO of a tutoring company, she uses data-driven methods to bridge the gap between classroom assignments and vocational skills.
ELIZABETH FARRAR 09C learned the fine art of delivering results during four terms on the Emory College Council—including one as president. Farrar currently serves as deputy chief of staff to US Senator Amy Klobuchar, with whom she’s worked the past five years.
During the pandemic and a growing social justice movement, RAPHAEL
advocates for health equity within university communities. Currently directing health promotion initiatives at Columbia University, he also coleads the American College Health Association racial marginalization and health inequities taskforce.
BRADLEY FEINSTEIN 06C is a lifelong learner, always asking questions, always looking to grow and evolve. He has a passion for establishing and expanding business relationships, as well as advocating for the best possible client experience. “Invest in your friends, because they’re going to be your biggest supporters,” he says. “But they’ll also be the ones who will tell you hard truths.”
A four-year member— and senior captain—of the varsity swim team, ELLEN GABLER 13B credits hours in the pool in a quest for perfection for bolstering her success as a journalist. In her job at the New York Times, Gabler was part of the team awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for pioneering coverage of sexual harassment.
Naval officer DAN GILLER 08C discovered a deep affinity for teamwork at Emory. During his time on campus, Lieutenant Commander Giller found camaraderie in fraternity life, as a member of a cappella group AHANA, and in competition with the Ultimate Club—all formative experiences that prepared him for sea and his career in the US Navy.
Even after more than seventeen years at Microsoft, ZULNA HERISCAR 12B, remembers her first big meeting vividly. A first-generation Haitian American, Heriscar was young, female, Southern, and Black—and there was no one else like her in the room. Thanks to hard work at Emory, she had the confidence and skills to succeed.
After seeing the attacks of 9/11 on television, JEFF JACKSON 04C enlisted in the US Army Reserve and completed basic training the next summer. Eventually he served a tour in Afghanistan before going on to law school. Now serving his third term as a North Carolina state senator, he has earned a reputation for a strong work ethic, honesty, and compassion.
When describing her winding career path and multiple degrees, LESLIE
Growing up in a military family, JON KEEN 11B has public service in his genes. After college, he joined the US Army, twice leading troops on the ground in Afghanistan. The experience sparked an interest in both process and policymaking, and now Keen serves on the leadership team of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
The thread tying the journey of CAREN KELLEHER 05B together is a love of music and keen desire to help musicians succeed. With experience across the spectrum of the music industry, Kelleher kept coming back to vinyl. So she got out her library card, fired up YouTube, and created Gold Rush Vinyl.
Beginning his associate’s degree in high school,
“I’m inspired by the idea of leaving the world better than I found it,” says BEN KOBREN 05C. The job that has shaped his career the most was the very first one: Kobren woke at 3 a.m. each day to gather newsclips for Hillary Clinton when she was a New York senator, and he “never felt more informed.”
In high school,
ZACH KLEMPF 12C worked at a car dealership while attending Emory and founded a software company in his early twenties. “Emory pushes you outside the box,” he says, reflecting on how the lessons from film and media management classes translate to marketing and the software industry.
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JOHNSON 09OX 11C 14PH 18L laughs. “It’s just being open to opportunities, connections, and a bit of serendipity,” Johnson says. Over the years, she has explored health narratives through art, supported work to treat depression, and innovated ways to broaden the mental health system.
BREANNA LATHROP 08N 08PH decided on a health career after volunteering at a free clinic in her Iowa hometown. “The clinic providers had skills and could actually make a difference,” she says. Now Lathrop is a leader at the Good Samaritan Health Center in Atlanta and a champion for healthy communities.
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40 UND E R FORT Y
Like many first-generation Chinese American children, CHRIS LEE 12G was raised to achieve. But unlike many of his peers, he bucked parental pressure and direction. “My success started when I ignored my parents’ expectations for me and focused on the opportunities that excited me,” says Lee.
“Machine learning wasn’t a big thing thirteen years ago when I was at Emory,” YANDONG LIU 09G recalls. “It wasn’t sexy at all. Just a bunch of math formulas, it was pretty boring for most people, but I was always interested in it.” His passion proved prescient as the importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning has exploded.
In 2009, JUSTIN MAHIDA 05C served on the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association, representing physicians during the passage of the Affordable Care Act. His entrepreneurial work ranges from sports recovery to not-for-profit boards to craft cocktails at Law Bird, one of Esquire’s Best Bars in America.
When ROHIT MALHOTRA 08C 09C broke both legs in a dance competition (Google “bhangra pyramid”) at Emory, he used his down time to research and question the structures that cement people in generational poverty. He founded the Center for Civic Innovation, where he addresses inequalities and builds connections between citizens and government.
Growing up in a Black Baptist church in the South, BRANDON MAXWELL 14T repeatedly heard the message that gay people couldn’t be Christians, let alone pastors. At Candler School of Theology, he began stepping outside that idea, embracing his own identity as a Black gay man, and understanding his calling within the church.
DARREN MAYS 06PH 09G is working to stamp
After dissecting a frog in the fifth grade,
For BETH MICHEL 12PH, her Tohono O’odham Nation citizenship and Hopi and Navajo affiliations not only inspire and inform her personal life, but her professional life as well. She currently serves as Emory’s lead for Native American and Alaska Native admissions outreach to guide the election of and advocation for Indigenous students.
VAS MICHOPOULOS 12G
Born in Venezuela to Colombian parents,
out cancer from a wholly preventable cause: smoking. Combining behavioral science with communications strategy and technology, Mays’s research informed a proposed FDA rule requiring tobacco companies to display photos of the effects of smoking on their product packages. 58
RACHEL MEDBERY 05C 09M 16MR 19FM knew her path. Now the first doctor in her family and the first female thoracic surgeon in Central Texas, she treats lung cancer, a leading cause of death in the United States.
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has produced more than 125 publications from her work in psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Compassion is a key component of her work; she centers her studies around communities and individuals traditionally underrepresented in biomedical research, including women and racial and ethnic groups.
JULIO MORENO 02OX 04C has made a career of helping other immigrants navigate the US legal system. Shaped by life experiences and valuable hands-on internships and volunteer opportunities, his Atlanta-based law firm seeks to balance the scales for immigrants on their pathway toward lawful status.
With a master’s degree in health administration and a resume brimming with leadership roles,
LAUREN MORTON 02C left a successful career in hospital management to take on more intimate, grassroots community work. Now she strives to provide educational programming for people interested in personal growth and wellness.
As senior director of marketing at PepsiCo, BRANDI RAY 10 MBA, has overseen innovative advertising strategies including a chart-topping Super Bowl commercial. Ray credits much of her success to the training she received and the people she met at Emory, including her “Goizueta Dad,” the late Professor Earl Hill, to whom she dedicated this honor.
ARIANA MULLIN 14G became a research scientist after her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. “She instilled a relentless but playful work ethic in all of us and taught us to leave the world a better place,” Mullin says. Now a neuroscientist and drug development leader, Mullin translates cutting-edge science into therapeutics.
When ROMINA SAVOVA 08C left her job at a financier’s London office, she discovered she was not alone in her confusion over the British system of pension funds. Sorting out what she needed to know was the beginning of PensionBee, an app that allows UK workers to easily track their retirement savings.
“I am inspired by my patients who maintain hope, vigor, and happiness despite the difficult odds sometimes stacked against them,” says ANDREW MURPHY 03C 07M. A pediatric surgeon, he treats young patients with solid tumors at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
REBECCA OBENG 18MR
ISY INDIA THUSI 03C be-
An inventor and advanced practice clinician specializing in cardiothoracic surgery,
A teenage mother who brought her daughter to Evening MBA classes at Goizueta Business School,
MICHAEL WANG 03OX 05C uses artificial intelli-
KIM WILLIAMS 09MBA
lieves in righting wrongs. At Emory, she restarted the NAACP chapter, registered Black voters, and founded a poetry slam at a local juvenile detention center. That same belief led her to human rights law. Today she teaches criminal procedure and critical race theory as an associate professor and has received a Fulbright Global Scholar Award.
says she is “rooted in family, love, community, and culture with a drive to live up to her highest potential.” A gastrointestinal pathologist and assistant professor at Northwestern University, Obeng also works with a team at Sub-Saharan Africa Healthcare Initiative (SsahiPath) to improve diagnostic services in Africa.
gence to serve humanity. Wang owns one company that makes a sensor to monitor patients in their hospital beds and another that makes a flameless, robotic system for preparing nutritious Chinese food.
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After five years as a corporate attorney,
ASANKA PATHIRAJA 04C transitioned to investing in emerging technologies. He also supports philanthropic ventures, including Prince William’s wildlife conservation charity and his own education initiative, founded after two family members died during the sectarian Easter bombings in Sri Lanka.
became a top performer at a Fortune 100 company while working on her degree. Afterwards, she started an e-commence business and now serves as an officer of Brown Investors, founded by the same daughter who attended classes with her.
Together, we are connected through shared values and a belief in Emory’s mission to serve humanity. Thanks to your extraordinary acts of kindness— gifts, contributions, volunteerism, and other generous support—Emory is prepared to meet the challenges of our times head-on.
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T H I S PAG E I N T E N T I O N A L LY L E F T B L A N K
E M O RY E V E RY W H E R E
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Touching Lives Around the World The Humanity and Philanthropy of R. Randall Rollins By Martha McKenzie and Susan Carini
“I always thought of Randall
as a North Star for his moral
probity and sterling character.”
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P H O T O G R A P H Y C O U R T E S Y O F T H E R O L L I N S FA M I LY
Randall Rollins—the eighty-eight-year-old visionary work, honesty, devotion to family, and giving back, Rollins was businessman, greathearted philanthropist, and the embodiment of the family’s values—leave things better longtime champion of Emory—passed away on than the way you found them. Monday, August 17, 2020, after a short illness. Rollins immea“I always thought of Randall as a North Star for his surably strengthened the university, including guiding a moral probity and sterling character,” says James T. Laney, nascent Department of Public Health to achieve the standing Emory University president emeritus. “He was a remarkable of a top-ranked school. In so doing, his legacy extends beyond combination of business acumen and basic goodness, the the lives he touched directly, rippling into the future, carried likes of which we rarely encounter. His presence and wise by the public health leaders, physicians, theologians, and counsel will be terribly missed in business, church, and philothers who have benefitted from his investments in Emory. anthropic communities, and none more so than at Emory. “The impact Randall has Randall will always have the made cannot be overstated,” enduring gratitude of all who says James Curran, the James love the university and of the W. Curran Dean of the Rollins generations to come who will School of Public Health (RSPH). be beneficiaries of Emory’s “Countless thousands throughservices and contributions to out the world will lead longer, society.” more productive lives because Without question, Emory —James T. Laney, Emory University of the investments Randall has advanced its mission in president emeritus Rollins made in public health.” profound ways because of the Rollins and his younger brother, Gary Rollins, presided unparalleled support Rollins gave the university over many over a vast business empire started by their father, O. Wayne years. Witness his critical role in propelling the RSPH, which Rollins. Yet Rollins remained a private, modest man who was named for the Rollins family to honor their generosity, never forgot the lessons he learned growing up on a farm in from a fledgling school with a handful of students and Ringgold, Georgia. Guided by his unwavering belief in hard faculty to one of the top five schools of public health in the
United States in just thirty years. That arc of growth and accomplishment is remarkable, and Rollins was at the heart of it by providing gifts of infrastructure and endowment as well as expert guidance. The generosity of Rollins continues with a $65 million gift to fund a third RSPH building, which is currently under construction and will bear his name. In 2015, in recognition of his extraordinary commitment to advancing global health, Emory awarded Rollins an honorary degree. As Dean Curran said at the time, “Now recognized as one of the nation’s leading schools of public health, the worldwide reach of the Rollins School of Public Health would not have been possible without the generosity of Randall Rollins and his family.” Randall Rollins grew up doing chores—including straightening old nails so that they could be reused— around the family farm under the watchful eyes of his parents and grandparents. Though he never graduated college, he got an excellent business education working with his father and uncle in their various enterprises, including the first leveraged buyout in American business history, when the family enterprise borrowed $60 million to purchase Orkin pest control in 1964. Like his father, Rollins demonstrated enormous
business acumen as he and Gary Rollins grew the companies their family acquired, including Rollins Inc., a pest control company, RPC Inc., an oil and gas company, and Marine Products, a boat manufacturer. Business associates say he was quick to spot good investment opportunities, focused on continuous improvement, and gifted at nurturing loyal employees. He was famous for working six days a week, a practice he continued until becoming ill. “The Rollins family created a lasting legacy in public health, a field so critically important today,” says Emory President Gregory L. Fenves. “Their generosity
“The Rollins family created a lasting legacy in public health, a field so critically important today. . . . Randall had the vision for a world made better through science applied to improving people’s lives, and he believed that Emory was the place for his vision to be realized.”
—President Gregory L. Fenves
BIG ACHIEVEMENTS Rollins School of Public Health; In 2015, Emory awarded Rollins an honorary degree in recognition of his extraordinary commitment to advancing global health.
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and commitment helped catapult our youngest school to be a national and international leader in public health research and education. Randall had the vision for a world made better through science applied to improving people’s lives, and he believed that Emory was the place for his vision to be realized. We will miss him greatly.” Mary Jo Lechowicz— Margaret H. Rollins Chair in Cancer at Winship Cancer Institute and professor and vice chair for education in the School of Medicine’s Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology—treated Rollins for years and got to know him well. When she would have Orkin technicians in her home, she would tell them she had met their boss at Emory. They would always smile and say they knew him and his family. EMORY MAGAZINE
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T RI B UT E
“His family’s interest in the health of the local and global communities and long involvement with the School of Public Health, beginning with O. Wayne Rollins’s insight into what a new public health facility would mean to the university, have been fundamental to the overall success of the health sciences at Emory.” — Jonathan Lewin, executive vice president for health affairs, executive director of the WHSC, and CEO and chair of the board of Emory Healthcare
“That’s the kind of man he was,” says Lechowicz. “He really took the time and effort to get to know people, to know their families.” Rollins continued and deepened the family tradition of giving back, remaining true to the belief that for those to whom much is given, much is expected. His father made the first connections with Emory through gifts to Candler School of Theology in the 1970s. Both father and son were men of deep faith. “I interacted with Randall Rollins in church circles as much as I did on campus,” says Jan Love, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and Mary Lee Hardin Willard Dean of Candler School of Theology. “Always gracious and good humored, he was a man of deep discernment not only about business but also about faith. He cared passionately about supporting institutions and groups that made the world a better place for all its inhabitants.” When the Emory Board of Trustees was launching a new school of public health, Wayne Rollins was quick to voice 74
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his support for a building to house it. However, he died unexpectedly in 1991 before the project had left the drawing board. Determined to carry out his vision, Rollins and his family provided funding for the building named for their mother, Grace Crum Rollins. Under ordinary circumstances, a school founded just thirty years ago would still be finding its footing. However, with Rollins’s focused support of the RSPH, its advancement has been unprecedented and transformative. His gifts included funding for a second building named for Wayne Rollins’s mother, the Claudia Nance Rollins Building, as well as unrestricted endowments and scholarships. “He was an insightful man who knew the right questions to ask at the right time,” says Michael Johns, Emory’s executive vice president for health affairs (1996–2007) and currently a professor of public health and medicine. Johns knew from his many conversations with Rollins how deeply he cared about the public’s health, which is why he embraced the RSPH “so mightily and supported it so generously. Randall was not a proud person, but I think he certainly was proud of what the RSPH achieved, going from a gleam in our eye to one of the most prominent public health schools in the world.” Generous with his advice and counsel, Rollins served as an Emory trustee for thirteen years, from 1988 to 2001. “My business motto—listen, learn, decide, and act—evolved out of my interactions with Randall,” says Johns. Many Emory leaders join Johns in that view of how a relationship with Rollins influenced their leadership style. “In so many ways,” says Dean Curran, “the values that Randall brought as a businessman—being open-minded but tough, always looking for novel solutions to problems, but resolute when it comes to performance and getting the job done—are the same that the faculty and leadership of the RSPH have embraced in bringing the school to such a high point in terms of its reputation and ranking.” The Rollins family also generously supported the Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC), the School of Medicine, Winship Cancer Institute, Candler, and Yerkes National Primate Research Center. The foundation was instrumental in the construction of the O. Wayne Rollins Research Center, which opened in 1990 and houses laboratories that have fueled discovery in fields including neuroscience, cellular biology, genetics, and immunology. They have funded numerous academic chairs that have enabled Emory to recruit and retain top-level clinicians, teachers, and researchers who, in turn, have expanded studies of innovative treatments and promising medical techniques.
P H O T O G R A P H Y C O U R T E S Y O F T H E R O L L I N S FA M I LY
“Randall was a visionary leader and supporter of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, Emory University, and the school that bears his family name,” says Jonathan Lewin, executive vice president for health affairs, executive director of the WHSC, and CEO and chair of the board of Emory Healthcare. “His family’s interest in the health of the local and global communities and long involvement with the School of Public Health, beginning with O. Wayne Rollins’s insight into what a new public health facility would mean to the university, have been fundamental to the overall success of the health sciences at Emory. Speaking personally, Randall’s wisdom, generosity, humility, work ethic, compassion, and sense of humor were truly inspirational for me, and our time together has made me a better person.” Another Emory entity whose upward trajectory owes so much to the Rollins family is the Winship Cancer Institute. “Winship would not be where it is today without the influence and generosity of Randall Rollins,” notes Walter J. Curran Jr., Winship executive director and Lawrence W. Davis Professor and chair of Emory’s Department of Radiation Oncology. “The family’s support of Winship includes the creation of two endowed chairs, the R. Randall Rollins Chair in
Oncology and the Margaret H. Rollins Chair in Cancer, as well as personal involvement and sponsorship of Winship fundraising events. Randall’s impact on Winship’s success, including through his leadership on the board of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center Fund, cannot be overestimated.” Beyond his undisputed business success and legendary philanthropy, Rollins stood for the love of family. He was happiest when he was with his wife of sixty-seven years, Margaret (“Peggy”), and their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, either during weekly family dinners or on the annual family vacation. The couple has six children: Rita Anne Rollins, who passed away in 1970; Richard
Randall Rollins Jr.; Pamela Rollins; Robert Rollins; Timothy (Andrea) Rollins; and Amy (Nevin) Rollins Kreisler. They also have eighteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. In always making himself available for service and support to others, Rollins fulfilled his family’s vision
of generosity. “I have never known a finer man or a more loyal friend,” says Charles R. Hatcher Jr., WHSC vice president for health affairs (1984–1996). “With his great wealth, he felt a responsibility to do everything he could to make the world a better place. And he did.”
A FAMILY OF PHILANTHROPISTS TOP: Gary and Randall Rollins with their mother, Grace Crum Rollins. BOTTOM: Gathered in front of a 1990 photo of O. Wayne and Grace Crum Rollins are (l-r) Henry Tippie, O. Wayne Rollins Foundation trustee; Gary Rollins; Amy Rollins Kreisler; Randall Rollins; and Pamela Rollins.
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Plan big. Life-changing impact can come from the smallest entity. At this very moment, Emory researchers and scientists are the vanguard of global research in the quest to develop the vaccine to defeat COVID-19. Your planned gift to Emory could help eradicate the
greatest maladies of the day. (Remember that time when Emory scientists developed Emtriva, a game-changing treatment for HIV?) Future cures like these could be made possible by a gift from someone with the imagination to plan big.
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Chronicling the Human Condition Jeffrey S. Reznick 99PhD Illustration by Jason Raish
remember the exciting moment years ago when I found it at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world’s largest biomedical library: a rare international report on soldiers of the allied nations who had been disabled in the First World War. I had been looking for it for years, hoping a copy had survived to help me complete my research on the persistence of wartime dialogue into the postwar era about the health and employment of the surviving the “generation of 1914.” During this research, I had no idea that one day I would be working at the library, leading the outstanding, multidisciplinary team of its History of Medicine Division. I help steward one of the world’s largest and finest collections of historical material related to human health and disease, dating from antiquity to the present and originating from virtually every part of the world. Like that moment in my research years ago, the work I do today with my colleagues is exciting, fulfilling, and deeply meaningful—both professionally and personally. Together, we are constantly learning more about the library’s historical collections. We are curating them to surface their stories to inform research, education, and learning. We are methodically digitizing them—not merely to make the trillions of bytes of data produced, delivered, and interpreted by the library every day more accessible to viewers, but more fundamentally to enable them to see the
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uniqueness of the original objects they represent with all of their exactitude. Our stewardship is a fundamental part of the main role of the library: to document, preserve, and advance understanding of the human condition. We are constantly growing the library’s collections, retrospectively to include materials of past centuries that were born physical, and prospectively to include born-digital publications, social media, and data—all of which will become tomorrow’s historical collections. The latest chapter of our work along these lines involves collecting and preserving selected digital and analog materials that document the coronavirus disease (COVID19) pandemic. When future researchers seek to understand early twenty-first century pandemics, they will turn to this collection—among many others held by archives and libraries across the globe—and appreciate the talented archivists, historians, and librarians who collected and preserved it for the benefit of future generations. These successors will seek to navigate their own pandemics, learning from the past along their way. In this way, our work today fits in a continuum of medical knowledge existing in varied physical and digital forms—as it extends from the distant past to the present, and into the future, and is collected and preserved for the greater good. Our stewardship of these new collections pertaining to the current pandemic—like our conservancy of all the collections our predecessors acquired, organized, preserved, and passed down over decades since the establishment of the library in the early nineteenth century—is a distinct privilege. It reminds me that I only “discovered” that rare report years ago because colleagues long before me decided to acquire and preserve it, and their successors kept it safe for such future discovery. That experience years ago has helped me become a better researcher. It has also helped me appreciate the excitement, meaning, and privilege of my stewardship for the greater good with an outstanding team at the NLM. Jeffrey S. Reznick is chief of the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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REMEMBERING A FIERCE PROTECTOR OF CIVIL RIGHTS Emory mourned the loss of dear friend and honorary alumnus US Representative John Lewis this spring. Learn more about his life and legacy by watching the 2020 documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble, coproduced by alumnus Ben Arnon 98C (pictured with Lewis above) and reading our story about the making of the film at EMORY.EDU/MAGAZINE.