Emory President’s Essay Draws Criticisms

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Wagner has been meeting with faculty groups, Emory spokeswoman Elaine Justice said Friday. He was not available for an interview, she said.

Just two years ago, Emory hosted a national conference entitled “Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies.”

In helping announce it, Gary Hauk, Emory’s vice president and deputy to the president, wrote that the college would pay slave owners so it could “rent” slaves to work on the campus in the mid-1800s. During the school’s early years, most of its faculty members, many of its presidents and some of its most generous benefactors owned slaves, Hauk wrote.

There have other missteps on campus, too.

In December, the cast of an Emory student-run TV program apologized for a segment that included jokes about the possibility of the Supreme Court ending affirmative action. In the segment, a cast member said a proven method to find students who do not belong at Emory include lynching and cross burning.

The cast said the segment saying was distasteful, poorly written and not meant to hurt or personally attack anyone.

In September, the school drew criticism when it announced it would eliminate programs such as its Division of Educational Studies. Opponents said those programs had strong track records of educating minority students.

Addressing the complaints, Wagner wrote to Emory’s student newspaper that the school’s recruitment and graduation of minority students continued “to be among the strongest in the nation” and said this commitment “has never depended on one department or division, nor should it.”

On Wednesday, the essay was still a central part of the regular meeting of about 200 faculty members in Emory’s College of Arts and Sciences. They voted to censure him.

The censure amounts to “an expression of displeasure by the faculty over the event,” said Stefan Lutz, an associate chemistry professor involved in the group.

Gray Crouse, chair of the University Faculty Council, agreed the president made a major mistake.

“That mistake is not indicative of the person he is. It’s not like, ‘Oh, he made a mistake and that reveals what he’s like’ — that’s not the case at all,” he said. “This is not indicative of Emory and I think he is profoundly upset that he’s called attention to Emory in a negative way because he cares deeply about Emory.”

(Photo: AP)

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