To the Emory community:

    A wise person said long ago, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Emory is a place of remarkable potential for a great and achievable destiny. It must, therefore be as clear as possible about its vision and principles. An important role of the president of a university is to help the university’s disparate parts find a way of articulating their shared vision, simply but compellingly.

One of the most immediate opportunities before us is the shaping of such a concise statement of shared vision—a statement that we all agree can guide us in the coming months, as we begin to develop a strategic plan and aim for a comprehensive financial campaign. As I have listened to faculty members, staff members, trustees, students, and alumni over the past two months, certain clear themes have emerged. From these conversations I have tried to distill some initial thoughts of what Emory University wants to be, and perhaps in large measure already is.

What follows is a working draft of that statement. I emphasize the words “working draft.” It has been through three revisions by the President’s Cabinet and has benefited from commentary by many others. I put it before you for your thoughts, comments, suggestions, objections, helpful glosses, approval, editorial refinement, or rejection. My only request is that, if you leave it in tatters, you replace it with something better. Eventually we may want to revise our more complete “Mission Statement of Emory University” in light of this shorter vision statement; but for now we should strive to be as concise and pithy as a bumper sticker.

Over the next six weeks, I invite all of you who read these words to comment. (This site is restricted to Emory network users.) On November 5th, the President’s Cabinet and the Deans’ Council will meet in retreat to consider your good advice and hammer away further at the document. In the end, I hope that enough of you will have seen and commented on this statement to make its next edition truly a collective work that all of us can agree represents the key elements of our shared vision. Admittedly, the results will still be a “working draft” (although far better refined) and will remain so until we complete together a more inclusive strategic planning effort in the months ahead. We do not need a perfect statement at this point. But even this refined working draft of our vision statement will give us initial guidance for strategic planning to accelerate our fundraising activities. It will also help to focus and to guide many of our operational decisions.

Thank you, in advance, for your assistance and involvement in getting us off on this first important step of our journey together.

James W. Wagner


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