Start of the Spring Semester

The Emory gate with tulips planted at the ground level

Dear Emory Community,

Much can be said of the last year. Perhaps just as much can be said of the myriad events of the past three weeks. And now, here we are—at the start of our spring semester—filled with hope for the days to come and eager to continue the learning, teaching, research, and discovery that define this extraordinary university. 

For those who will learn in person this spring, regular COVID-19 testing will be vitally important to the health of our community. All students living on campus and all students conducting classes, labs, and/or research on campus will be required to test weekly. All faculty and staff who will be visiting university buildings or accessing in-person campus resources are required to take part in an onboarding process for the spring semester. Faculty and staff who are asymptomatic and have completed the onboarding process will have access to COVID-19 testing as capacity permits. For more information about COVID-19 testing, new gathering protocols, and answers to your questions about vaccination, please visit the Emory Forward website.

With health front and center, we are equally focused on our core mission—to provide extraordinary educational experiences and develop groundbreaking research. This semester isn’t a new beginning—we have come too far and learned so many lessons within this last year that it is now our responsibility to create a path forward for ourselves and for the future of our university. And we take inspiration from the incredible Emory community members who gave of themselves selflessly and stepped up as leaders and role models during this challenging time.

I’m thinking of all the staff, faculty, students, and alumni who came together to participate, albeit virtually, in the 2020 Winship Win the Fight 5K annual race/walk, which raised more than $700,000 for cancer research. 

I’m thinking of the Emory professors and students who collaborated with Atlanta artists this fall as part of the Emory University Arts and Social Justice Fellowship to explore racial injustice and other inequities through the lens of artistic expression.

I’m thinking of all the students who shared their inspiring work through the Emory "Healing through Art" project on Instagram.

And I’m thinking of all the Emory staff and health care givers who have gone above and beyond to make our campus safe, to provide COVID-19 tests at Emory, and to care for those who are battling the disease in hospitals and at home. You are our heroes, and we are in awe of all that you’ve done.

I have only been at Emory for about six months, but in that short time I’ve come to understand what this university, this place, and this community are all about. You are special. You are driven. And you are leaders in all that you do. It’s taken me a little while to learn all of the ins and outs. But I know that when it comes to learning, teaching, scholarship, and exceling at the highest level—there is no place like Emory.

This is who we are. And I can’t wait for you to start your classes today and usher in 2021 with fresh insights, a commitment to service and creativity, and the wise, heartfelt pursuit of knowledge you have always shown.


Gregory L. Fenves