The Oral History Project
I am not sure when I felt prouder of anything. Wheezing a bit at the end, we still did what we said we would do: produce "thirty for thirty" - that is, thirty memorable interviews with Emory women on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the commission.
My pride stems not from conceiving the idea and seeing it through to its end, though I don't deny there is satisfaction in doing so. The pride springs instead from two sources: first, that we exist in so rich an environment at Emory that one can draw up a list of thirty notable women, only to realize that this number is absurdly out of sync with the number of notable women actually at Emory. The work of archiving their stories can and must continue, if for no better reason than to try to even the odds.
I also feel pride in the small hive of helpers I had. Some of my staff and other colleagues from Communications came together to provide the well-oiled machinery for creating this archive. Our endeavors so often failed to seem like work, which gave me an advantage in doling out more. Nonetheless, it was work - sustained work over two years - and I want to pause to acknowledge the spirit of cooperation that attended every request I made and to list the names and talents of those I conscripted.
Pam Auchmutey - writing, editing, and interviewing
Gordon Boice - website development
Ann Borden - photography, audio engineering, and video editing
Mary Callen - interviewing and video production
Dana Goldman - writing, editing, and interviewing
Jane Howell - writing, editing, and interviewing
Stacey Jones - writing, editing, and interviewing
Mary Loftus - writing, editing, and interviewing
Terri McIntosh - writing, editing, and interviewing
Rhonda Mullen - writing, editing, and interviewing
Paige Parvin - writing, editing, and interviewing
The final thanks go to the women themselves, who were predictable never in what they said but only as far as the intelligence, humor, and passion with which they said it. We chased them to their doors and hated to leave when the recording equipment was shut off. We picked up photographs and ran our hands over books. We pressed to know this and that. They trusted us enough to ladle up both individual failures and triumphs and to talk about the University with equal parts candor and affection. We will do all in our power to keep their words echoing and reverberating across campus. Although a podcast is necessarily a solo venture, a forum centered around the women or a screening of the video associated with the project is not. We will do both and possibly more besides.
Oral history files
Mary Lynn Morgan
Emile Crosa Toufighian
Melissa Maxcy Wade
Delores P. Aldridge's career is marked by a series of "firsts." She holds the Grace Towns Hamilton Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Emory, the first-ever chaired professorship at a major institution in the United States and the first in African American studies named for a black woman. Hired in 1971 as the first African American professor in Emory College, Aldridge founded the Black Studies Program that year, the first of its kind in the South, and served as its administrator for nearly two decades. Being first, Aldridge discovered, gave her the luxury of forging her own path. Intellect and scholarship notwithstanding, her quick wit and sharp tongue may have been her best defense.
Link to listen to Delores Aldridge audio file COMING SOON
Jean Bergmark came to Emory with her professor-husband Jonas Robitscher in 1970. Already she had established herself as a woman to be reckoned with - one of the first female editors of The New Republic, a columnist for Southern weekly newspapers, a self-taught real-estate renovator and developer, a die-hard Democrat - and a mother of three. For the past thirty years, she's played a number of roles at Emory and in the community, all connected by her love of culture and her concern for equal rights. In this interview, Bergmark sits in her fourth-floor condo, overlooking Emory School of Law where Jonas Robitscher once taught, and talks about her life.
Link to listen to Jean Bergmark audio file COMING SOON
Roberta Bondi, professor of church history emerita, came to Candler School of Theology in the late 1970s to be the first woman to assume a tenured track position at the school. An advocate of women, Bondi says she started out at Candler embarrassing her colleagues when, in faculty meetings, she would raise issues of concern to women. She persevered, however, and ultimately was met with success. Among other accomplishments, Bondi became one of the founders of the Women in Theology Program, a program that prepares female theology students for their work in ministry.
Link to listen to Roberta Bondi audio file COMING SOON
Donna Brogan, professor emerita of biostatistics at Emory, is an internationally known expert in the analysis and design of sample surveys and a master teacher of those methods. As one of the early women in the field of biostatistics, she has forged the way for women to enter this previously male-dominated profession. She was the first woman appointed to a faculty position in Emory School of Medicine's Department of Biometry and Statistics, and in 1991, she became the first female chair of the Department of Biostatistics at Rollins School of Public Health. She has led movements of female faculty to fight for equal benefits, and her advocacy for women's rights also has extended to her community.
Link to listen to Donna Brogan audio file COMING SOON
Amy Bryant, a 1996 graduate of Emory, played both varsity soccer and tennis at Emory. Now as the varsity women's tennis coach, a position she has held since 2000, she leads a team that has won five team national championships and has produced two singles and four doubles national championships. A decorated athlete in both soccer and tennis as a student, Bryant is the fifth person and first female in NCAA history to win the national team championship as both a coach and a player. She sees the value in coaching her players both on and off the court, and over the course of her career she has come to know the true measure of success.
Link to listen to Amy Bryant audio file COMING SOON
Patricia Collins Butler graduated from law school in 1931, one of the first few women to gain an Emory law degree. She went on to an exceptional career as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, arriving in Washington, D.C., during Franklin D. Roosevelt's second administration and staying until she retired in 1974. While in D.C., she worked for fifteen attorneys general, including Robert F. Kennedy. She also became one of the first female lawyers to argue a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Now ninety-eight, Patricia Butler lives in La Jolla, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Link to listen to Pat Butler audio file COMING SOON
A member of the Oxford College faculty for more than twenty years, biologist Eloise Carter has become as central to Oxford as the campus green. Her love of science, dedication to teaching, and delightful insistence that plants are "sexy" have earned her a string of awards and the admiration of hundreds of students. Most of those students are the freshmen and sophomores who begin their Emory University degrees at Oxford. A growing number, however, are the primary and secondary school teachers who spend their summers at Oxford's field house¿set in a preserve dedicated to environmental education - learning bold new ways to teach science. Mostly, they discover, it's about getting your hands dirty.
Link to listen to Eloise Carter audio file COMING SOON
Susan Henry-Crowe was the first woman worldwide to be elected to the United Methodist Church¿s Judicial Council and was the second woman to serve as a full-time Methodist minister in South Carolina. As dean of the chapel and of religious life at Emory, Henry-Crowe sees her ministry now as educating, mentoring, community-building, and advocating for the voiceless. Henry-Crowe reflects on her career a week after the 2007 commencement and hours after she returned from a Journeys of Reconciliation service-learning trip to New Orleans that she took with students.
Link to listen to Susan Henry-Crowe audio file COMING SOON
After working at Emory University for more than a decade in a career that involved the Law and Economics Center, the School of Medicine, and Emory Business School, in 1992 Ali Crown became founding director of the Center for Women at Emory. There she set about changing the circumstances of women at Emory for the better, and she has been at it ever since. Crown says directing the Center for Women has been transformative work for her, and she is pleased to have contributed to creating a locus for women on campus.
Link to listen to Ali Crown audio file COMING SOON
For nineteen years and counting at Emory, Marion Dearing has served as executive assistant to four of the University's presidents, successfully navigating the personalities, politics, and issues surrounding each with her characteristic modesty and wry sense of humor. Dearing sat down to share impressions of her career and the position that gives her a rare perspective on Emory's leadership and vision. A great storyteller, she talks in this interview about how she got her job at Emory, her role models, and the University¿s future.
Link to listen to Marion Dearing audio file COMING SOON
Lieutenant Cheryl Elliott has worked in law enforcement since 1975, first at Georgia Institute of Technology, and now at Emory where she has worked as a member of the Emory Police Department since 1988. An invaluable resource, Elliott provides protection, information, and compassion to the Emory community. Her career in this traditionally male-dominated field has given her a close look at women's issues in the workplace and has shaped her mission to assist and inform those around her. Elliott has faced many of the challenges of being a woman in law enforcement, and she relishes the moments in her career that have made her most proud.
Link to listen to Cheryl Elliott audio file COMING SOON
As one of just a few women attending the University of Pennsylvania in the 1950s, Joan Gotwals received quite an education. She ate meals in a gender-separated cafeteria and took notes in male-dominated classrooms. Undaunted, she earned three degrees and worked her way up from the bottom in the university library: She began while a graduate student, shelving books and laboring in a storage facility, and ended as Penn's deputy director of libraries. Her leadership caught notice of an Emory search committee, and she became vice provost of libraries for Emory University. Under her watch, Emory¿s libraries achieved national recognition for their research collections, facilities, and information technology.
Link to listen to Joan Gotwals audio file COMING SOON
Dana Greene has made Emory her home at two distinct points in her life: once while a graduate student in the Institute of the Liberal Arts, from which she graduated with a PhD in 1971, and the next, as the first female dean of Oxford College from 1999 to 2005. Her proudest accomplishment as dean, says Greene, was to have the University "reclaim Oxford College in a new way." Greene describes herself as both a "raging feminist and a deeply religious person," and while she sees no conflict between the two, she does admit it's made for an interesting life.
Link to listen to Dana Greene audio file COMING SOON
Judy Greer has devoted more than three decades to Oxford College, as a beloved professor, coach, and adviser. As Oxford's first female professor, she taught dance and physical education to several generations of students. Greer retired from Oxford in 1996, although she is still a member of the Oxford Board of Counselors. Now in her early seventies, she lives near the historic Old Church building, a short walk from the Oxford campus. Oxford Class of 1959, the first class that she taught, paid tribute to their teacher and lifelong friend by endowing a scholarship in her name.
Link to listen to Judy Greer audio file COMING SOON
Edith Honeycutt entered Emory's nursing school in 1936 with a prayer: "Dear Lord, please let them keep me." More than seventy years later, Honeycutt and Emory have never parted ways. An alumni leader, she has also served as an advocate for patients and for nursing education, as private nurse to four generations of Atlanta's Woodruff family, and as inspiration for an endowed chair in nursing. She is among a handful of nurses to receive the Emory Medal, the University's highest alumni honor. The medal acknowledged what the School of Nursing and the nursing profession have long recognized¿the role that Honeycutt plays as a bridge from nursing past to nursing future.
Link to listen to Edith Honeycutt audio file COMING SOON
Frances Lucas is accustomed to being first: she's the first of four children, the first to volunteer for any worthwhile project, and the first to tell you exactly what's on her mind. At twenty-nine, she became the first female vice president ever hired by Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio and one of the younger vice presidents in higher education. Later she became Emory's first female vice president, serving as senior vice president and dean of campus life from 1992 to 2000. Today Lucas is president of Millsaps College and is the first woman to hold that position in the 110-year history of the small liberal arts school in her home state of Mississippi.
Link to listen to Frances Lucas audio file COMING SOON
In thirty years at Emory, Rosemary Magee's career has taken her from a graduate student in literature and religion to vice president and secretary of Emory University. Now, as the first female administrative member of President Jim Wagner's cabinet, Magee has a unique perspective on leadership and women at Emory. In this interview, Magee sits in her office in the Administration Building and discusses her career, her family, and what both of these have brought to her life.
Link to listen to Rosemary Magee audio file COMING SOON
Mary Lynn Morgan has pioneered her way through life since she was one of the first female dental students at what would become the Emory Dental School. To hear her speak of it, it isn't remarkable that, in the 1940s, she became one of just a few practicing female dentists in Atlanta; and, after that, one of just a few dentists specializing in pediatric dentistry. Now in her nineties, Morgan sees the sense of accomplishment she gave to children and their families as more important than her own achievements. Even when she married the influential 1960s Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor Ralph McGill, her feet remained solidly on the ground. Through it all, learning - and serving - have been most important to her.
Link to listen to Mary Lynn Morgan audio file COMING SOON
As an undergraduate at the University of Alabama, Edith "Edie" Murphree made the fateful decision to switch her major from home economics to accounting. Now Murphree serves as vice president for finance and has held the office of CFO since 2003. In this role she guides more than 120 staff members working in seven financial areas, directs a majority of the University's financial responsibilities, and oversees a budget of $1 billion. Although she has worked in the corporate arena, Murphree is most comfortable in the academic world. She's gratified to see there has been a shift in the number of women studying accounting since her undergraduate years.
Link to listen to Edith Murphree audio file COMING SOON
Jane Parker came to Emory in 1972 to work as a secretary in the School of Law. Now thirty-five years later, she is vice president for Development and University Relations Operations, having held a number of positions of increasing responsibility along the way. Parker has inspired women for years at Emory, not only for her skill and calm authority, but also for the grace and inclusiveness with which she operates. In this interview, Parker talks about her path through the University since 1972, the importance of mentoring, and advice for women starting out in their careers.
Link to listen to Jane Parker audio file COMING SOON
Amy Ray 86C grew up in Decatur, Georgia, just a few miles from the Emory campus, where she would later team with Emily Saliers 85C to form the award-winning folk-rock band the Indigo Girls. More than two decades later, the duo has released ten albums and continues to play sold-out shows around the world for an intensely loyal following. Passionate environmental and social justice activists, the Indigo Girls are champions of Native American land rights, gun safety, and preserving the environment. In 1990, Ray paid tribute to her roots in Atlanta's independent music scene by founding Daemon Records, a label that promotes budding independent artists. She also has released three solo albums.
Link to listen to Amy Ray audio file COMING SOON
Outspoken and unconventional, Cathy Rudder says she was "a bit controversial" as an Emory student in the 1960s. Now director of the public policy master's program at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., she has been a congressional chief of staff, the first female director of the American Political Science Association, and a board member of the National Peace Foundation. Ladies' Home Journal named her one of America's most influential women. She earned the Emory Medal and helped found the Emory Alumni Board of Governors. Through it all, she has kept the delightful sense of humor and keen sense of fairness that are keys to her success.
Link to listen to Cathy Rudder audio file COMING SOON
Musician Emily Saliers 85C and her musical partner, Amy Ray 86C, once sold copies of their first single in front of Dobbs University Center for one dollar each. Since then, the internationally acclaimed duo the Indigo Girls has sold seven million albums worldwide, won one Grammy award, and earned several Grammy nominations for their soulful folk-rock music. They also are known for their support of progressive political and social causes, themes that often surface in their songs. The daughter of theology professor emeritus Don Saliers, Emily credits Emory with shaping her thinking and her strong activist leanings. She and her father coauthored the book A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice.
Link to listen to Emily Saliers audio file COMING SOON
Leah Ward Sears, Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, may have been born in Heidelberg, Germany, but she's a Georgia girl at heart. Sears, the daughter of an Army colonel and an English teacher, was raised in Savannah, where she was often the only black face in her school classroom. Bright and driven by a passion for justice, Sears attended Cornell University and Emory School of Law, graduating in 1980. In 2005 Sears became the first woman and second African American chief justice of the state supreme court. Easily branded a liberal by her critics, Sears has remained grounded in her innate sense of fairness and her commitment to the law.
Link to listen to Leah Sears audio file COMING SOON
Jocelyn "Jo" Taylor retired from her job as assistant to Emory College dean Steve Sanderson in August 2000. She began working at Emory in 1962 as an administrative assistant in the Department of History. In 1980 she began working in the College Office as assistant to the dean and worked under four deans during her tenure there. She was a member of the University Senate and the Employee Council and was one of the early leaders of the Women's Caucus, a precursor to the President's Commission on the Status of Women, what she called "a good group of people who cared a great deal about promoting the interests of women in all kinds of ways."
Link to listen to Jocelyn Taylor audio file COMING SOON
A stellar student, Emile Crosa Toufighian graduated with both a bachelor's and master's in nursing from the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and is now an OB-GYN midwife at a physician-owned practice in the Atlanta metro area. She was one of the school¿s first class of Fuld Fellows at the nursing school. Today Toufighian is a strong proponent of accessible and affordable health care for all, especially children. Nursing must shed the maternal view assigned to them and take on greater challenges, she said in a 2005 interview in Emory Nursing magazine. "We have to dare to carve a new vision and to become political advocates as well as patient advocates," she said.
Link to listen to Emile Crosa Toufighian audio file COMING SOON
Melissa Maxcy Wade is a four-time alumna of Emory and director of forensics at the University. A star high school and college debater herself, Wade has led Emory¿s debate team to a national title for twenty-nine of the last thirty-three years. Not content to let debate remain the domain of a privileged few, however, she founded the Urban Debate League twenty years ago in Atlanta public schools. The league has grown into a national education reform movement that has gained attention from the White House and allowed more than thirty thousand inner-city middle and high school students to let their voices be heard.
Link to listen to Melissa Maxcy Wade audio file COMING SOON
It is safe to say that thousands of women are alive and thriving today because of Nanette Wenger. The distinguished cardiologist is internationally recognized for changing our view that heart disease affects only men. Further, Wenger was one of the first physician-scientists to speak out about the monumental under-representation of women in medical research. When others were retiring, the seventy-six-year-old wife, mother, and grandmother began researching the effect of heart disease on elderly men and women. Wenger has been at Emory since the late 1950s as a faculty member at the medical school and a clinician at Grady Memorial Hospital. She's been chief of cardiology at Grady since 1998.
Link to listen to Nanette Wenger audio file COMING SOON
Sylvia Wrobel joined Emory in 1982 as the sole practitioner of public relations and communications in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC) and as a member of a small group that would burgeon into today¿s divisions of Development and Alumni Relations, and Marketing and Communications. Wrobel headed Health Sciences Communications until fall 2004, and now writes on science and medicine, and travels as much as possible with a particular fondness for South America. In this interview she speaks about her career, including the early days of public relations and communications at Emory as well as the challenge of balancing the importance of family and the urgency of work.
Link to listen to Sylvia Wrobel audio file COMING SOON