Emory University President James Wagner and the Board of Trustees: Continue the important work of the Division of Educational Studies (DES)
  • Petitioned Emory University President James Wagner and the Board of Trustees

This petition was delivered to:

Emory University President James Wagner and the Board of Trustees
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Earl Lewis, Ph.D.
Dean Lisa Tedesco
Dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences
Dean Robin Foreman
Senior Associate Dean of Faculty
Michael Elliott
Senior Associate Dean, Research
Patricia Bauer
Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Joanne Brzinski
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Priscilla Echols
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Wendy Newby
Associate Dean for Summer and International Programs
Philip Wainwright
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education
Jason Breyan
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education
Shari Obrentz

Emory University President James Wagner and the Board of Trustees: Continue the important work of the Division of Educational Studies (DES)

    1. Laura Quaynor
    2. Petition by

      Laura Quaynor

      Augusta, GA

On September 14, 2012, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Emory University, Robin Forman and the Dean of the Laney Graduate School and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies at Emory, Lisa Tedesco, supported by Emory’s president Jim Wagner, unexpectedly announced a decision to close Emory University's Division of Educational Studies (DES).  This decision was announced in the following language: "The foundation of a great college - and a great university - is academic eminence...Which programs have achieved distinction, and which programs are truly essential for a twenty-first century liberal arts education?" We disagree with the administration, and believe that DES has continually demonstrated academic eminence, and that the field of education is a critical part of preparing students for the 21st century.

DES has provided teacher training,  an undergraduate major and minor, and graduate research degrees over the last half century at Emory University.
We, DES students and alumni and supporters, are deeply troubled by the cloaked manner in which this decision was reached by the administration as well as a deliberate decision by the administration of Emory University to disinvest in engagement with public education. Now more than ever, decisions around public education are critical to advancing equity in our local, national, and international contexts. Emory's specific legacy in the formerly segregated city of Atlanta and mission to "create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity" make this decision particularly disheartening.

Emory has consistently been ranked as one of the best universities in the country by the U.S. News & World Report rankings. In 2010, Forbes dubbed it number seven in the list of “the 20 Best Colleges in the South.” However, Emory’s dedication to education has dwindled over the years. With a reported endowment of $5,443,397,455 (the 9th largest in the country), Emory’s closing of DES shows a lack of commitment to education and to the community. Furthermore, in light of both the specific mission of DES to target educational inequities and the high number of faculty and graduate students of color in the Division, this decision questions Emory University's commitment to promoting diversity in its institution and local community.

Why Sign this Petition? The Division of Educational Studies (DES) was created during the mid-twentieth century and since then has kept a strong commitment to social justice and critical pedagogy in the metro-Atlanta area, across the country, and internationally. DES graduates work every day to provide quality education to students across the country, and it is these students who will be hurt by such cuts.

 ·         Service and Community Involvement: DES is a “leader in developing community relations and partnerships with local schools. These partnerships with public elementary, middle, and secondary schools with substantial African American and immigrant enrollments include the Emory University Partnership Advisory Committee (EUPAC), Elementary Science Education Partners (ESEP), the Challenge & Champions (C & C) Program, and the Community Outreach Partnerships Center (COPC),” and Teaching in the Urban South (TITUS).  http://des.emory.edu/home/about/history.html

DES’ program Challenge and Champions, selected as a top 5 finalist in the National Association for Summer Learning Excellence Award, has worked for years so that “all middle-grades youth, regardless of income, ethnicity or home life can work toward increased: skills as a student, confidence as a learner, cultural competency in a global society, and comfort with taking on leadership” (http://www.challengeandchampions.org/index.html)

·         Faculty and Student Demographics: The faculty at DES is composed of 45.5 percent faculty of color. DES is one of the only seven departments university-wise with reported over 25 percent faculty of color (Emory 2009 University Profile; http://www.emorywheel.com/cuts-disproportionately-hurts-faculty-of-color/). In addition, “DES produces more African-American PhDs than any other program of its kind in the country” (comment on http://www.emorywheel.com/cuts-disproportionately-hurts-faculty-of-color/ - Self Study, 2010).

·         Awards and Honors: The Division of Educational Studies is the home to nationally recognized scholars who advocate for educational equity, including this year's presenter of the Brown Lecture for the American Educational Research Association, the premier venue for academic conversation about public schooling in the shadow of the Brown decision.  Other awards received by DES faculty and students include the NAEd Spencer Dissertation and Postdoctoral Fellowship,  NCSS’ Outstanding Dissertation Award, AERA’s Early Career Award from Division K, and theJean Dresden Grambs Distinguished Career Research in Social Studies Award, among numerous others.

·         Quality of Education: DES consistently provides excellent education to both undergraduate and graduate students. Based on standard end-of-course surveys, 100 percent of seniors in 2011 reported that DES provided courses of quality (DES Evaluations).

·         Educator Preparation: The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at DES, which is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, has received several awards, including the Georgia’s Distinguished Teacher Education Program Award in 2007. MAT graduates are consistently recognized as excellent teachers in their schools with numerous “Teacher of the Year” awards. (http://www.emory.edu/EMORY_REPORT/erarchive/2007/October/Oct15/Around%20Campus.htm)

We, DES students and alumni, want to urge  Dean Forman, Dean Tedesco, President Wagner, and the board of trustees to demonstrate their commitment to the education of children, youth, and educators by reexamining their decision to close DES. We also want to urge donors to reconsider supporting an institution that does not include education as part of its vision of excellence.

Please sign this petition to SAVE Emory University's Division of Educational Studies, which has served as a critical space to train students at all levels to engage in courageous inquiry around education in the United States and across the globe. Feel free to share your statistics and stories about the importance of DES in the comments. Thank you for your support!!

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 250 signatures


    Reasons for signing

      • over 1 year ago

      This is is president of a educational institute, not congressional politics or Ultra Right wing extremist views, which are thoughts of some Republican/Tea partiers! Teach don't speak. He should step down or be ousted!!!! Racist teaching 'our' children.

    • YoungRo Yoon DECATUR, GA
      • almost 2 years ago

      Emory is liberal arts school.

      Enough said.

    • Greg Watson TUCKER, GA
      • almost 2 years ago

      Every child is potentially the light of the world, and at the same time its darkness. Wherefore the science of education, pedagogy and learning is of primary importance. The study of every domain of knowledge and field of scientific endeavor is weakened if the psychological, cognitive, moral, emotional and cultural development of the creature for whom they are intended are not optimized and sharpened. It would be as if you set out to accomplish a task without refining the instrument by which you wished to accomplish it. Of course I cannot claim to know all the factors that would go into such a decision, but the closing of DES appears to be truly outrageous and an indictment of the current state of affairs in society and in our institutions. This act also appears to carry the risk of tainting the university with a disease (racism) so associated with the horrors of the 20th century, that one is surprised that the University feels safe in allowing itself to be identified with a mentality so universally condemned. What irony and paradox when endemic social problems (economic and moral) bring an end to the very science (education) that ultimately promises their solution—with the help of God. The future of the world depends upon character development, the refinement of the human brain, and early learning (when the personality and psyche are formed and basic values are established). When the agents of higher learning do not take responsibility for this future we are observing intellectual suicide. How shall we judge this act? Has money become more important than the value and dignity of human being? … or are we simply witnessing a lack of vision for taking leadership in this most important field? From my experience in the doctoral program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and from teaching in the Graduate Program for Teachers at the University of Massachusetts, I came to value the contribution schools of this caliber can contribute to society. Hopefully Emory will consider rescinding the demotion of itself.

    • Jessica Phillip ATLANTA, GA
      • almost 2 years ago

      Because a former roommate of mine is an educational studies minor and taking this away from her would screw with her dreams. Not cool!

    • Bong Sun (Regina) Seo ATLANTA, GA
      • almost 2 years ago

      Emory should keep Educational Studies for the sake of the college's liberal arts education.


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