How Research And Scholarship Can Change Lives

Dear Emory alumni and friends,

I hope you enjoyed your summer and had time to relax and unwind.

At different points in recent months, I was on the road — traveling to meet with Emory students and alums, connecting with scholars and leaders at other universities, and taking a little bit of vacation with my family. Still, just as Ray Charles sang years ago, Georgia was on my mind. And, of course, so was Emory!

With the new academic year underway, it has been wonderful to feel the energy on the Atlanta and Oxford campuses. Our students arrived in full force in August, bringing with them limitless enthusiasm. Many had taken on internships, conducted research, traveled across the nation and around the world, or worked and spent time with their families. They made the most of their “time off,” absorbing lessons outside of the classroom that will influence and inspire them throughout this new academic year and beyond.

At the same time, our new students were getting ready for the start of their Emory education and the full Emory experience. Whether they are first-year undergraduates, students continuing their educational journeys at Emory, or the many new graduate and professional school students pursuing advanced degrees, there is always a lot of anticipation as well as some trepidation in these early days. But here at Emory, we go out of our way to make everyone feel welcome and included, and I’ve seen the nervousness on the faces of our students fade away. On both the Oxford and Atlanta campuses, students have been taking part in traditions both timeless and recently imagined — Songfest, the Oxford Olympics, numerous Coca-Cola toasts and more — and the level of school spirit is off the charts. 

During Convocation in Atlanta, Emory’s acclaimed professor of pediatrics and biomedical engineering, Wilbur Lam, delivered an unforgettable address to first-year students and their families, filled with warm advice and good humor. At one point, Dr. Lam discussed his role in leading the National Institutes of Health RADx initiative, which charged Emory researchers with evaluating the nation’s COVID tests throughout the pandemic. It was Emory’s responsibility to ensure that the tests were safe for public use, and Dr. Lam and his team did heroic work during a time of unprecedented need.

At Convocation, Dr. Lam looked out into the audience filling the WoodPEC and asked, “how many of you have ever taken a COVID test?” A wave of hands shot up. And then he replied with a twinkle in his eye, “On behalf of Emory University, you’re welcome!” A lot of laughter followed, but there was also a palpable sense of pride in the room. He was emphasizing to our students, in no uncertain terms, that they were a part of one of the finest universities in the world. The research and scholarship that take place at Emory change lives — that’s not hyperbole; it’s a fact. 

So, as you read this issue of Emory Magazine, I ask that you reflect on Dr. Lam’s display of pride and what it means to be a member of the Emory community. When we consider all that our alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends have accomplished, we realize that there’s no place like Emory. That’s something to be deeply proud of.

Gregory L. Fenves 
Emory University

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