Nearly 110 of Emory University’s 175 “History Makers” joined students, alumni, teachers and residents Dec. 7 at the Glenn Memorial Auditorium to celebrate the school’s 175th anniversary.
The history makers were chosen by a committee that worked nearly a year and a half to narrow down the list. According to Emory Vice President Gary Hauk, the history makers who were presented at the event energized the crowd.
“In some cases, children or great, great grandchildren who represented them came back and we presented them with a medal specially designed for the occasion,” Hauk said.
One hundred and seventy-five years earlier, on Dec. 10, 1836, Methodists in the small town of Oxford, Ga., founded Emory College for farm boys and planters’ sons. During the Civil War, the college was closed and parts of it were used as an infirmary to house soldiers injured during the Battle of Atlanta.
“The reopening in 1866 was really a courageous move on the part of the faculty,” Hauk said.
Hauk, author of A Legacy of Heart and Mind: Emory Since 1836, said the university began in Atlanta in 1914 when the school of theology opened in downtown Atlanta. In 1919 the school got its official charter, the college moved to the present day campus, and Emory University was born.
“It really brought together a number of educational institutions that were already here…Atlanta Medical College, Wesleyan School for Nurses. It created a constellation of academic universities and schools and had a great benefit to Atlanta,” Hauk said.
Hauk said the original founders of Emory probably had no idea the university would grow to have its current enrollment of 13,893, become world-renown and have a $5 billion annual economic impact on Atlanta.
“I don’t think they could have had a clue frankly,” Hauk said with a chuckle. “In some ways they may not have been surprised because as good Methodists they probably felt as John Wesley once said, ‘The world is their parish.’”