Message from Robert C. Goddard III, Board Chair

April 7, 2020

The following announcement is sent on behalf of Robert C. Goddard III, chair of the Emory University Board of Trustees.

Dear Emory Community,

I write first and foremost with the hope that you are all healthy and safe, and also to express my deep appreciation for all that Emory physicians and health care workers are doing for our patients, their families and our community during the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis it has created. Indeed everyone in the Emory community is embracing the necessary changes to daily life with the collaborative and caring approach you always take. On behalf of the board, I thank you all for that.

I also write today to share that the Emory University Board of Trustees convened via teleconference this morning in a specially called meeting to elect, by unanimous vote, Gregory L. Fenves as the 21st president of Emory. This appointment comes after a unanimous vote by the Presidential Selection Committee (PSC) to present Greg to the board as its nominee. The official announcement, which will be made public later today, is below. 

So many members of our Emory community played a crucial part in the PSC’s understanding of the key characteristics to look for as we searched for our next president. Your straightforward input was critical to the development of the presidential prospectus and directly guided the PSC’s assessment of all of the talented and distinguished prospects with whom we met over the past several months.

As I say in the announcement below, the PSC and the Board of Trustees believe Greg possesses all the qualities, and more, we were seeking in the person who will lead Emory into its promising future. We are as eager to introduce him to you as he is to become a member of our Emory community, and we look forward to the day when that will be possible. Until then, I hope you and your families stay well and that you find strength and resilience in the belief that we are, without a doubt, One Emory.


Robert C. Goddard III

Chair, Emory University Board of Trustees 

Emory Board of Trustees names Gregory L. Fenves as 21st president 

Fenves Says Emory Ready to Become Eminent 

ATLANTA — The Emory University Board of Trustees announced today that Gregory L. Fenves, president of The University of Texas (UT) at Austin, has been elected as the 21st president of Emory University by a unanimous vote of the board. Fenves will assume office on August 1, 2020.

Fenves succeeds Claire E. Sterk, who announced her retirement in November 2019 after serving as Emory’s president since 2016.

“We are tremendously excited about the appointment of Greg Fenves, a world-class educator and brilliant leader,” says Bob Goddard, chair of Emory’s Board of Trustees and of the Presidential Selection Committee. “We wanted someone with deep experience leading a major research university and a stellar record of scholarship. We also sought an inspirational leader and a person of impeccable character. Greg Fenves embodies all that we hoped to find.

“We are also acutely aware of the impact that COVID-19 is having on our universities and our communities. Greg and I agree that, out of respect for all of those who are working hard to combat the virus and care for their families, we only want to make a brief introduction today. When the clouds lift and we are all able to return to our normal routines, we will plan a more complete welcome for Greg and his family.” 

Fenves’ unanimous election by the board took place after the Presidential Selection Committee led an intensive international search that included more than 40 listening sessions throughout the Emory community and confidential interviews with diverse and prominent candidates.

“I am deeply honored to be named president of Emory University by the Board of Trustees,” Fenves says. “It has been a privilege to lead UT Austin, which I believe is among America’s best public institutions of higher education. I am excited to join one of the country’s finest research universities. Optimistic about Emory’s future, I am convinced that working together as one university, we will move Emory from the outstanding institution it is today to one of eminence.

“But today, our universities face extraordinary challenges. In Atlanta and Austin, as well as across the country, courageous health professionals and brilliant scientists are caring for the stricken and searching for a vaccine, while our faculty are educating students at a distance. I stand with them, and we must continue with the immediate job at hand. Accordingly, for the next few months, I will devote my time and energy to leading UT Austin through this crisis. My wife, Carmel, and I look forward to the day when we can begin the next phase of our lives at Emory.

Goddard said the selection committee was impressed with the enormous impact Fenves had on UT Austin during his 12 years, first as dean of the engineering school, then as provost and finally as president. Under Fenves’ leadership, UT Austin has prioritized its outstanding faculty, cross-disciplinary research and student success, and launched the first new medical school at a top-tier research university in nearly 50 years. Fenves has made diversity and inclusion a priority, successfully leading UT Austin to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the educational benefits of diversity in higher education in the landmark Fishercase. And he has been deeply engaged with UT Austin students throughout his presidency.

“The next decade will be critically important in the evolution of Emory as one of the nation’s eminent research universities,” Goddard says. “The board believes with Greg Fenves as our next president, we will have the key components to make significant advancements as an institution. And we are proud of what he has seen in Emory and that a university leader of such stature is attracted to the opportunities at Emory.”

Fenves is married to Carmel Martinez Fenves, a textile artist and former small business owner. They have two adult daughters, a son-in-law and one granddaughter, all of whom live in Austin.