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UT Austin’s president – Gregory Fenves – named Emory’s next president

Maria Saporta

By Maria Saporta

Emory University has selected Gregory L. Fenves as its 21st president.

Emory’s Board of Trustees announced Tuesday that Fenves, president of the University of Texas at Austin was selected in a unanimous vote of the board. He will begin his tenure at Emory on Aug. 1.

Fenves will succeed Claire E. Sterk, who announced in November her intention to retire. She has served as Emory’s president since 2016.

“We are tremendously excited about the appointment of Greg Fenves, a world-class educator and brilliant leader,” said Bob Goddard, chair of Emory’s Board of Trustees and chair of the Presidential Selection Committee, in a statement. “We wanted someone with deep experience leading a major research university and a stellar record of scholarship. We also sought an inspirational leader and a person of impeccable character. Greg Fenves embodies all that we hoped to find.”

Gregory Fenves, currently the president of the University of Texas at Austin, selected as next president of Emory University (Special)

Goddard went on to say: “We are also acutely aware of the impact that COVID-19 is having on our universities and our communities. Greg and I agree that, out of respect for all of those who are working hard to combat the virus and care for their families, we only want to make a brief introduction today. When the clouds lift and we are all able to return to our normal routines, we will plan a more complete welcome for Greg and his family.”
Emory conducted an intensive international search that included more than 40 listening sessions throughout the Emory community and confidential interviews with diverse and prominent candidates before selected Fenves in a unanimous vote.

“I am deeply honored to be named president of Emory University by the Board of Trustees,” Fenves said in a statement. “It has been a privilege to lead UT Austin, which I believe is among America’s best public institutions of higher education. I am excited to join one of the country’s finest research universities.”

Fenves went on to say he is optimistic about Emory’s future.

“I am convinced that working together as one university, we will move Emory from the outstanding institution it is today to one of eminence,” Fenves added. “But today, our universities face extraordinary challenges. In Atlanta and Austin, as well as across the country, courageous health professionals and brilliant scientists are caring for the stricken and searching for a vaccine, while our faculty are educating students at a distance. I stand with them.”

Fenves also referenced the unusual time because of COVID-19.

“We must continue with the immediate job at hand,” Fenves said. “Accordingly, for the next few months, I will devote my time and energy to leading UT Austin through this crisis. My wife, Carmel, and I look forward to the day when we can begin the next phase of our lives at Emory.”
Goddard said the selection committee was impressed with the enormous impact Fenves had on UT Austin during his 12 years, first as dean of the engineering school, then as provost and finally as president.

Under Fenves’ leadership, UT Austin has prioritized its outstanding faculty, cross-disciplinary research and student success, and launched the first new medical school at a top-tier research university in nearly 50 years.

Fenves has made diversity and inclusion a priority, successfully leading UT Austin to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the educational benefits of diversity in higher education in the landmark Fisher case. And he has been deeply engaged with UT Austin students throughout his presidency, according to the release.
“The next decade will be critically important in the evolution of Emory as one of the nation’s eminent research universities,” Goddard said. “The board believes with Greg Fenves as our next president, we will have the key components to make significant advancements as an institution. And we are proud of what he has seen in Emory and that a university leader of such stature is attracted to the opportunities at Emory.”

Fenves is married to Carmel Martinez Fenves, a textile artist and former small business owner. They have two adult daughters, a son-in-law and one granddaughter, all of whom live in Austin.

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Maria Saporta
Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    edward w irvin April 7, 2020 1:50 pm

    Why would someone leave UT Austin for Emory? No offense.

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