The start of the fall semester

Emory University gate

Dear Emory students,

Today marks the beginning of our fall semester. I know that the journey to the start of the new school year has been filled with unexpected twists and turns, particularly throughout these spring and summer months. You have been asked to adapt — putting plans on hold, reimagining your living situations, and altering your day-to-day actions to keep yourself, as well as your friends, family members, and loved ones, healthy during this unprecedented public health crisis. For all you have done thus far — thank you. 

Things are different today. And you are right in the middle of everything — both as an individual and as a college student, striving to gain knowledge, have new experiences, and prepare for your future. Regardless of what year you are in at Emory, where you are living now, or what you are studying, you are a student at one of the finest universities in the world. And you’re not here because of happenstance or luck, but because of your immense gifts and talents and your drive to ask deep questions and search for truth. This is not a moment to put things off for another time, but to dive in. That’s why this first day of class is so important.

The Emory faculty has worked tirelessly throughout the summer to provide an experience, both in-person and online, that is of the highest quality and dynamic enough to accommodate a wide range of student situations. They are as driven to provide you with your education as you are to earn your degree, and this semester will reflect that enthusiasm and energy by you and the Emory faculty.

I encourage you to immerse yourself in your studies, find new ways of creating connections with your classmates, and keep an open mind to new perspectives and possibilities while, above all else, remaining true to your values and all that makes you distinct and special. 

For those students returning to campus, please read and take to heart the Emory Community Compact, which outlines the many ways that you can — and must — keep yourself, and our community, safe and healthy this semester. Our ability to keep COVID off campus so we can stay on campus depends on all of us following the rules of wearing face coverings and watching our physical distance. And that is true wherever you are pursuing your Emory education. It really is on us to control this disease.

For all of our undergraduate students, both those on campus and those learning remotely, I will be holding a Student Town Hall on Zoom this Friday at 4 p.m. I hope you will join me then.

This is the beginning of the academic year, but it is also the next phase in your lives. Embrace it and find inspiration wherever your studies lead you. I wish you all the best in the weeks and months ahead. Please stay safe and take care.


Gregory L. Fenves