Milestone Moments

132. Coca-Cola University

It’s a story you probably know by heart: how Emory’s rise from strong regional school to nationally top-ranked research university was jump-started by a single act of remarkable generosity—the November 1979 gift of $105 million in Coca-Cola stock from brothers Robert and George Woodruff, the assets of their parents’ Emily and Ernest Woodruff Fund. At the time, the stunning sum was the largest single gift to any institution of higher education in American history, and it had a profound impact (including the coining of Emory’s famous nickname). The most powerful and lasting benefit of the Woodruff gift, says historian Gary Hauk 91PhD, was its “psychological jolt . . . the imperative to look toward the future, to establish long-range goals, and to dream unabashedly about what it would take to make a good university great.”

133. Emory vs. VSU

Founded in 1928, Emory Junior College at Valdosta was an all-male school just 20 minutes from the Florida line, with an average of 61 students lured by cheaper tuition (about $50 a semester). After a brief boost from World War II soldiers returning to college on the G.I. Bill, the campus’s fate was sealed when the nearby Georgia State Women’s College began admitting men in 1950, ultimately becoming Valdosta State University (VSU). Emory closed its Valdosta campus in 1953, giving its facilities to its former competitor, VSU.

Saying goodbye, 1982.

139. No Class

Wednesday mornings were once strangely quiet on the Emory campus as students caught up on a little extra sleep. That’s because for more than a decade, there were no classes on “Wonderful Wednesdays.” The 1968 brainchild of Emory College Dean John Stephens 37C 38G, the day off was intended to give students time for independent study and more thorough class preparation, and a survey a year later declared the experiment a success. Students were predictably piqued when the beloved tradition was abandoned with the advent of the semester system in 1982, but that didn’t stop 2,283 of them from gathering to toast it goodbye with Coca-Cola, setting a world record for the largest nonalcoholic toast.

140. Remember the Library School?

In the late 1800s, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie helped start the Carnegie Library Training School of Atlanta, which merged with Emory in 1925. In 1948, under the leadership of Tommie Dora Barker 1909G, the school became the Division of Librarianship in Emory’s graduate school, where it remained as a master’s degree program. But by the mid-1980s, advances in technology and best practices were changing the field so rapidly that the division was unable to keep pace; it granted its last master of library science degrees in 1988.

141. . . . And the Dental School?

One of the first dental schools in the Southeast with roots dating back to 1887, Atlanta-Southern Dental College migrated to become the Emory University School of Dentistry in 1944. By the mid-1980s, though, the school was struggling to attract adequate students, facing competition from state schools and a decreasing demand for dentists nationwide. Leaders shifted its focus to research, making it the nation’s only school for postgraduate dental training. But this innovation only proved to be the school’s final gasp, and it awarded its last degrees in 1992.

156. Walk to the Future

Following their final Coke toast, graduating seniors are invited to symbolically transition from students to alumni in the Candlelight Crossover, a walk over the bridge to the Miller-Ward Alumni House. Alumni greet them for a reception on the other side.

162. The New Gym

“Friday, June 10, 1983, 9 p.m.—This gym will close FOREVER! Gone with the Wind . . .” A makeshift sign bearing those words once hung in the Field House, a converted airplane hangar that served as Emory’s athletics facility from 1948 until 1983. That spring, the state-of-the-art Woodruff P. E. Center was completed, spurring major growth and enthusiasm for Emory sports.

165–170. Electronic Emory

Last year:

  • Emory’s Facebook posts received 3.3 million views
  • Emory’s YouTube channel videos received 1.2 million views
  • There were 3,933,158 downloads of content from Emory’s iTunesU channel
  • There were 10.4 million visits to and other Emory sites
  • The Emory Mobile app was installed 10,678 times
  • There were 301,754 views of Emory’s entry on Wikipedia

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Our next category of note: Living Legacies.

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