Message from Emory Board of Trustees Chair John F. Morgan: Presidential Selection Committee Named

November 13, 2015

Dear Emory Community,

I am writing to provide an important update on Emory University’s presidential selection process, which we began planning for immediately following President Jim Wagner’s announcement in September that he would retire as president at the end of August 2016.

As you may be aware, in September, with the support of the Board of Trustees Executive Committee, I appointed a small group of trustees to serve as an Advisory Committee on the Presidential Selection Process. The trustees comprising this group were Laura J. Hardman 67C, Jonathan K. Layne 79B 79L, and Teresa M. Rivero 85Ox 87B 93MPH.

The Advisory Committee’s charge was to design a presidential selection process — including the naming of the Presidential Selection Committee — for the consideration of the full Board of Trustees.

I am pleased to report that the Advisory Committee presented the framework for the presidential selection process to the Board of Trustees at its fall meeting today, and the board voted unanimously to accept the Presidential Selection Committee that I proposed.

I am privileged to chair a committee that represents such a wonderfully talented, diverse, and engaged cross-section of the Emory community. This committee embraces and epitomizes Emory’s core values and longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion in all its forms.

The members of the Presidential Selection Committee are as follows:

  • Rafi Ahmed, director, Emory Vaccine Center; professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Susan A. Cahoon, trustee; a 1968 alumna of Emory College of Arts and Sciences
  • Susan Cruse, senior vice president for development and alumni relations
  • Michele Davis, president, Emory Alumni Board; a 1987 graduate of Emory College of Arts and Sciences
  • John T. Glover, trustee; a 1968 graduate of Emory College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jonathan K. Layne, trustee; a 1979 graduate of both the Goizueta Business School and the School of Law
  • John F. Morgan, trustee, and chair, Presidential Selection Committee; a 1967 graduate of Oxford College and a 1969 graduate of Goizueta Business School
  • Carol Newsom, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament
  • Leah Ward Sears, trustee; a 1980 graduate of the School of Law
  • Raj Tilwa, president, Student Government Association; a senior in Emory College of Arts and Sciences
  • Natasha Trethewey, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing; director, Creative Writing; United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry
  • Chilton D. Varner, trustee emerita; a 1976 graduate of the School of Law
  • Gregory J. Vaughn, trustee; a 1987 graduate of Emory College of Arts and Sciences
  • B. Michael Watson, trustee; a 1974 graduate of the Candler School of Theology

Additionally, Peter Barnes, vice president for human resources, and Allison Dykes, vice president and secretary of the university, will support the committee in the presidential selection process. The committee also will select and engage the services of an executive search firm that will help guide the process and identify potential candidates.

Clear and consistent communication is key during an undertaking of this magnitude and importance. We pledge to share information with you — and to keep you updated at key milestones during the selection process.

One way we plan to communicate is through a comprehensive website that we are launching today. This site will serve as the hub of news and information related to the presidential selection process. An important feature of the site is a mechanism for direct input from the Emory community regarding the credentials, experience, qualities, and values the selection committee should consider for the next president. We hope you will take a few minutes to share your ideas and thoughts with us.

Should you have questions at any time, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to Emory and for your interest, input, and support as we continue with this important initiative.


John F. Morgan
Board of Trustees
Emory University