June 2016AcademicsCommunityCultureLiberal ArtsPeople
Provost Claire Sterk has spent a substantial part of her academic career at Emory, and in September, she will take on a new role: president of the university.
As the sixth provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, a senior leader in the provost's office since 2005, and a faculty member in the Rollins School of Public Health since 1995, Sterk is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Public Health and holds additional faculty appointments in anthropology, sociology, and women's, gender, and sexuality studies. Although her more than 20 years of experience at Emory gives her an insider's perspective of how the university works, "I would never pretend to understand or know all of Emory," she says. "What my career here has shown me is the ability of research universities, and specifically Emory University, to transform lives from an individual to a population-wide scale."
Sterk looks forward to beginning her tenure as president with great optimism and what she describes as "a passionate appreciation" for Emory. She sees the university community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni as having "unparalleled talents, with members committed to inquiry, exploration, rigorous debate, who dare to be discontented all the while continuing to learn, teach, and share."
She builds on the legacy of her predecessor, President James W. Wagner, who -- with a successful historic comprehensive campaign and the implementation of Emory's first-ever strategic plan -- positioned the university as an international research powerhouse for seminal scholarship, engaged teaching, discovery, and path-breaking clinical care. Like Wagner, Sterk sees Emory and its people as committed to enriching society. "We must galvanize our intellectual and moral influence for the betterment of our city and region, state and country, and the world," she says. "At the same time, we will benefit tremendously from the breadth and depth of local resources. Reciprocity is a powerful force, and Emory is fortunate to be in the dynamic city of Atlanta."
In the first six months of her presidency, Sterk pledges a time of listening and learning to help identify priorities to advance Emory's excellence and reputation. She says this time also will be a fertile one to reach out to other public, private, and nonprofit partners in the region and beyond. "In that way, we will work together on achieving a common good that goes beyond our individual ability, to tap into innovation, and to lead."