Dean's June Update to Alumni
June 23, 2010
Dear Friends of Oxford:
I would guess that when you think about Oxford, the first picture in your mind is the quad. You know it as the heart of Oxford, and the historic buildings that surround it give our campus great distinction. Students who choose Oxford very often say, "It just looks like what a college campus should be."
Of course, every point has a counterpoint. While it is an honor to have these beautiful architectural pieces of Emory's past, it is also a great challenge to maintain them properly and to adapt them to the needs of twenty-first century higher education. As we do most years, we are focusing on those tasks during the summer, when the students and faculty are away.
Phi Gamma Hall, Emory's oldest academic structure, is undergoing extensive restoration of the roof support structure and replacement of the roof. The roof support is a classic "queen post" post and beam system (diagram and photo below) of timbers hewn with a broad axe and held together with wooded pegs. The ends of some of the major beams rotted as a result of decades of roof leaks and they are now being repaired with solid material. This is a job that will require several weeks. We will feel much better knowing that the roof will not fall in. Phi Gamma is the only space on campus reserved for quiet study around the clock and as such students use it heavily throughout the year.
This is a time to catch up on critical deferred maintenance on residence halls as well. Commencement had barely concluded when we began work on the Jolley Residential Center, and Branham and East halls, although largely vacant in the past few years, are also being refurbished.
The surge to get Branham and East ready for the fall has been made necessary by an exciting development. Following the May 1 deadline for accepted students to make their deposits for the 2010-11 year we were surprised to find that we are expecting the largest first-year class ever. Although some students make a deposit but at the last minute choose for various reasons to go elsewhere-what admissions professionals call the "summer melt"-we will expect to have a student body next year of approximately 850 students. This is an enrollment target that we had thought we would need a few more years to reach; it was reached not only ahead of schedule but also with no dilution of admissions credentials. In fact, the combined SAT and ACT credentials for this class are the highest ever. Once it is seated I will have more to tell you about this new class.
There are many possible reasons that we are seeing this increased enrollment. One would be the Emory One Voice Program, the recruiting strategy that has given prospective students seamless exposure to information about both Emory and Oxford colleges. But I can't help but think that another important factor is the word-of-mouth PR Oxford gets from the enthusiasm and success of alumni such as you. Your support in all forms is vitally important in bringing Oxford to the attention of "Oxford-like" prospective students and the public at large. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of Oxford.
Stephen H. Bowen