Is Emory Oxford? Is Oxford Emory?

The answer to both questions is yes. Emory College began at Oxford in 1836, and in 1919, it moved to Atlanta to mark the beginning of a new research university. At an In Dialogue session on Oxford's historic campus this spring, faculty discussed questions of identity: Is Oxford a distinct stand-alone unit, a stepping stone to "Big Emory," or an integrated part of the whole cloth of the university?

The Oxford experience -- covering the freshman and sophomore years with an intense focus on the liberal arts -- is what attracted many of the multigenerational faculty who participated in this conversation. Biology professor Nitya Jacob, who has taught at Oxford for 12 years, believes that "two years in an environment like Oxford's that then continue with studies at a large research university could be a national model for higher education."

During the conversation, faculty shared two of the biggest concerns before them:

  • How to engage students fully so that they choose to remain at Oxford for four semesters before continuing to the Atlanta campus, and
  • How to offer a large cohort of preprofessional students the prerequisites they need while maintaining a strong liberal arts core.

Sterk believes that faculty can help shape the solutions to these challenges, building a curriculum around what they decide are best strategies for the college. No matter what, "we are all Emory," Sterk told the attendees. "What we need to better distinguish is that there are two ways to get an Emory degree. One of those ways starts at Oxford."