Students in blurred motion walking in front of the Emory logo on a marble wall at the university gate.

Emory Board of Trustees Names Gregory L. Fenves as 21st President

Gregory Fenves

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 Fisher case. 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.

Meet president-elect Fenves

“I am delighted with the appointment of Greg Fenves as the next president of Emory. He’s widely recognized as an inspiring leader, an excellent communicator and a visionary in higher education. Leaving a distinguished institution like UT to come to Emory is a clear endorsement of the progress we’ve made as a leading research university and the potential we hold going forward. I look forward to working with him on a seamless transition that will strengthen and support all members of our academic community.”

Claire E. Sterk
President, Emory University

Emory Welcomes its Next President

As a leading research university rooted in the liberal arts and catalyzed by visionary investments, Emory University has never been better positioned to inspire and deliver impact.

Emory is recognized internationally for its outstanding liberal arts colleges, graduate and professional schools, and one of the world’s leading health care systems.

A top-ranked research university founded in 1836, Emory’s passion, purpose and resolve help sustain and improve global communities through individual actions and collective impact. Our courageous community of seekers and solvers continues to imagine and realize the university’s mission: "to create, preserve, teach and apply knowledge in the service of humanity."

Our leadership in academia is broad and deep, ranging from forging new ground in the humanities and social sciences to innovative drug therapies born in our labs and medical breakthroughs such as successfully treating the first patients with Ebola virus disease in the United States.

Emory attracts record-setting funding, faculty of the highest caliber and the brightest student scholars. Our culture of collaboration and the excellence of our faculty are why students from around the world come to Emory to embark on a rigorous and inclusive educational journey that transforms them into tomorrow’s leaders.

The Emory University Board of Trustees initiated the presidential selection process to identify the successor to President Claire E. Sterk, who announced in November 2019 that she will retire as president effective August 2020.

The Board of Trustees appointed a Presidential Selection Committee to undertake the work of identifying, screening and interviewing candidates for the presidency and selecting a finalist to be voted on and approved by the Board of Trustees. The committee engaged the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller to guide and assist with the process and also engaged Ilene Nagel of Education Executives as an adviser to the search.