Message from Robert C. Goddard III, Board Chair

December 19, 2019

Dear Emory Community: 

Since my last message to you on November 20, my Emory trustee colleagues and I have been working diligently to plan for the presidential selection process. Over the past several weeks, we engaged leaders from Emory’s major constituencies — undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, faculty, staff, deans, the President’s Leadership Team, and Emory Healthcare — and we look forward to continued consultation with them and others as advisers throughout the process. We are grateful for their initial contributions to our work.

We are fortunate to have a strong foundation for that work, based on the engagement of the entire community during the most recent presidential selection process four years ago. In that process the selection committee hosted almost 50 intensive listening and dialogue sessions to gather input and perspectives from students, faculty, staff, alumni, Emory Healthcare physicians, and many other members of the Emory community. Additionally, the committee used online surveys to reach out to our alumni and Emory Healthcare. The input gleaned and compiled from these valuable sessions guided the development of the presidential prospectus that the Board of Trustees approved and that informed the selection process.

While we believe the prior meaningful and thoughtful feedback we received remains relevant and we expect to rely considerably on it for this presidential search, we know many members of our community are new to Emory, and also that many may have additional or different current input. Today we launch this website to share information and news related to the current presidential selection process.

The Emory University Board of Trustees considers the selection and appointment of the university’s president to be its most significant responsibility, and I am pleased to share with you that today the board voted unanimously to approve a Presidential Selection Committee comprised of dedicated individuals who are committed to ensuring that Emory moves from excellence to eminence on the local, national, and international stage. I am honored to chair this committee of talented people who exhibit in their actions and words both profound affection for the entire Emory community and enthusiasm for its success and well-being. I look forward to working closely with them, and to upholding Emory’s institutional goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion among our students, faculty, alumni, and staff throughout the presidential selection process.

The members of the Presidential Selection Committee are:

  • Robert C. Goddard III, chair of Board of Trustees; chair, Presidential Selection Committee; chair and CEO, Goddard Investment Group
  • Kathelen Amos, trustee; 1979 graduate of Emory College of Arts and Sciences; president, The Aflac Foundation, Inc.
  • Susan A. Cahoon, trustee emerita; 1968 graduate of Emory College of Arts and Sciences; partner, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
  • Joseph Crespino, Jimmy Carter Professor of History; chair, Department of History
  • Jonathan K. Layne, trustee; 1979 graduate of Goizueta Business School and the School of Law; partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
  • Nancy J. Newman, LeoDelle Jolley Chair of Ophthalmology; professor of ophthalmology and neurology; instructor in neurological surgery; director, Section of Neuro-Ophthalmology, Emory Eye Center
  • Jill Perry-Smith, Goizueta Foundation Term Chair; professor of organization & management
  • John G. Rice, trustee; chair, GE Gas Power
  • Cynthia M. Sanborn, trustee; 1987 graduate of Emory College of Arts and Sciences; vice president, network planning and operations, Union Pacific Railroad
  • Leah Ward Sears, trustee; 1980 graduate of the School of Law; partner, Smith, Gambrell & Russell LLP
  • Mitchell A. Tanzman, trustee; 1981 graduate of Emory College of Arts and Sciences; co-chief executive officer and co-chief investment officer, Central Park Group LLC
  • E. Jenner Wood III, trustee; chair, Robert W. Woodruff Foundation

The committee will begin its work immediately. Among the immediate priorities are the development of an appropriate community engagement plan to ensure the input of Emory’s students, faculty, staff, physicians, and other stakeholders, and the selection of an executive search firm that will help guide the process and identify potential candidates. In the meantime, we hope you will submit any ideas regarding the credentials, experience, qualities, and values the committee should consider for Emory’s next president. Please click here and take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us. You can also e-mail any questions or feedback to

While we will need to be mindful of our confidentiality obligations to candidates, as chair of the Emory University Board of Trustees I am nevertheless committed to keeping you updated on the overall process at key moments. Being a member of this communicative and supportive community means a great deal to me, and I thank you for your interest.

 I wish you all a happy and restful holiday season.


Robert C. Goddard III
Chair, Emory University Board of Trustees