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Sterk welcomes students, faculty, staff to new academic year

As classes get under way, President Claire E. Sterk reflects on the communities that make up our university and looks forward to a "surprising, challenging and rewarding" year.

Editor’s note: Emory President Claire E. Sterk sent the following message to the Emory community on Aug. 29.


Dear Members of the Emory Community:

As we begin the new academic year, I want to extend a warm welcome and best wishes to our students, faculty and staff. I hope each of you had an inspiring and enjoyable summer, and I also hope you are as excited about the coming year as I am.

This begins my third year as president, but it also marks my 23rd year at Emory. I have always loved this season. It seems like Commencement was only yesterday, yet now we commence again on our shared journey into the fall semester. As our campus springs to life, I think about all the different communities that make up our university and the many ways we depend on and draw strength from one another.

We should all begin this new academic year with a measure of gratitude for the alumni and special friends who have helped build and sustain the place we love. Emory is widely recognized as one of America's finest universities — an achievement and an honor that never would have happened without the extraordinary contributions of those who came before us and those who continue to give generously.

I want especially to welcome the more than 1,900 first-year students who are joining our student body this fall. Their enthusiasm and ambition are palpable — and so is the anxiety that comes with beginning any new life stage. I also think of their parents and family members, who are filled with the pride and emotions that come with observing this milestone. I have no doubt that over the next four years, this new cohort of Emory students will make us a different and better place.

To all of our returning undergraduate and graduate students: How fortunate we are to have you as part of our institution! I am especially grateful for your curiosity, spirit and dedication. May this year be a fruitful and joyful one for you.

Central to Emory's success are our outstanding faculty and staff. Joining us for the new academic year are 308 new faculty members and approximately 5,000 new staff across Emory University, including Emory Healthcare. We look forward to their contributions and fresh perspectives. In total, more than 33,000 individuals come to work each day here at Emory, determined to make our university a better place and to keep us engaged with our amazing city of Atlanta.

I want to pay tribute to President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn Carter as they begin their 36th year of service at Emory. President Carter is widely recognized for having the greatest and most accomplished post-presidency in American history. That he has chosen to serve the nation and the world in partnership with our university is an honor and a privilege that we should treasure every day.

Finally, the start of the academic year reminds me of our shared community life and the challenges that call us to learn from one another. As you might be aware, one of Emory's professors in the School of Law recently used a racial epithet. The incident is currently under investigation by Emory's Office of Equity and Inclusion. Discrimination and disrespect have no place in our life together here at Emory. I strongly support the student unity events that remind our community of the importance of dignity, respect and love for one another.

Emory strives to be an institution of hope and opportunity. We exist to advance knowledge, open doors, strengthen communities, push the boundaries of science, and pursue truth. To this end, our work is never done, and our opportunities to make a difference are never exhausted.

With the start of the new year, we will be launching Emory's strategic framework, "One Emory: Engaged for Impact." It's a roadmap, a living agreement representing our highest ambitions and most sacred commitments. I'm grateful to everyone who contributed to the creation of this framework, and I look forward to seeing it come to life over the coming months.

I know better than to make predictions about the coming year, except to say that I'm confident it will be surprising, challenging, and rewarding. I look forward to sharing this experience with each of you.

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