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To the Emory Campus Life Community:
Spring is one of the most invigorating times to be on a university campus as the entire community comes together to celebrate one of the most exciting milestones in the lives of young adultsgraduation from college.
Commencement Day is a joyful occasioncertainly for graduates and their familiesbut also for faculty and staff who play significant roles in ensuring that every student who comes to Emory can take full advantage of all the University has to offer in an environment that is caring, supportive and invigorating.
Emory, along with other universities across the country, has worked hard over the past year to realign its budget to respond to new economic realities. As we conclude this academic year, I would like to take the opportunity to outline the priorities of the University and of Campus Life as we look ahead to next year, and review some of the comprehensive campus resources we have available to support students through every phase of their educational experience at Emory.
Financing college has probably been the number one topic on the minds of students and their families. President Jim Wagnerin community letters and at meetings across campushas emphasized that Emory will continue to invest first and foremost in retaining and attracting the best students, regardless of their economic standing. Priority number one is financial aid. We are devoting more not fewer resources to financial aid to make sure that all students who are admitted can attend Emory.
So far this spring, applications for financial aid are up almost 15 percent. Currently more than 60 percent of all Emory undergraduates receive some form of assistance. In 2007-08, the average need-based undergraduate scholarship or grant was more than $27,000 and that support is expected to increase as 2008-09 draws to a close.
Financial aid funding to all students (graduates and undergraduates) during 2008-09 exceeds $305 million, with Emory institutional funding reaching a historical high of $168 million. Awards will continue to increase as summer packages are finalized. During the height of this financial aid application season this spring, Emorys financial aid team has worked nights and weekends to put together aid packages for students, and a dedicated team of customer service and advising staff is available to counsel students during this critical time.
Emory also remains committed to increasing accessibility for low- and middle-income students through the Emory Advantage program which eliminates or reduces student loan debt for families with assessed incomes under $100,000. More than 634 students have benefited from the program (nearly 7 percent of our undergraduates) since it started in 2007. Building a permanent endowment for Emory Advantage is a major priority of Campaign Emory, which to date has raised $918 million of its $1.6 billion goal.
We also know that families from all income brackets have been hit hard by the economy, and have responded to individual appeals with sensitivity and provided additional assistance to families whenever possible. Great care is given to ensure equitable treatment for all students, and personal financial aid advisors are available to discuss any special challenges students may be facing. Direct contact information for financial aid staff can be found by selecting the Contact Us link at www.emory.edu\financial_aid.
Its important to keep in mind that a variety of rich and valuable educational opportunitiessuch as the popular study abroad programsremain thoroughly supported by financial aid and other university investments. This year our students continued to travel, study and do research around the globe, with increases seen in both participation and programming. Emory strives to make such academic programs available to all students by removing financial barriers. I encourage you to consider study abroad as a viable option and as an important part of Emory's liberal arts education.
In addition to providing the best education possible, Emory, as a caring community of scholars, places much importance on the health, well-being and overall success of our students. College life and its many transitions can be challenging, and comprehensive campus resources are available, including free counseling and mental health services an important investment for all of our students.
Of course the spring semester brings increased attention on career placement activities. The Emory Career Center has seen increased traffic as seniors prepare to hit one of the most challenging job markets in recent memory. Recruitment is down about 30 percent nationwide, and Emory also is feeling the effect.
Under the leadership of new executive director Paul Fowler, recruitment for jobs and internships has actually increased. The Career Center saw a 41 percent increase in employers offering internships and full-time positions, which fortunately puts us well ahead of many of our peers in providing genuine prospects for our students.
Fowler and his team also are working to build Emory's valuable alumni, friends and family network to its fullest potential, starting with expanded networking events this year in Atlanta, and, for the first time, in New York City and Washington, D.C. All drew capacity crowds of students, alumni and job recruiters. And, by working with Emory's student government and the Emory Alumni Association, an alumni mentoring program has taken off and already helped many of our graduating seniors navigate the job market and land jobs.
The Center also is implementing a strategic plan to increase outreach to students from the moment they come to campus, and not just when they are about to graduate, in order to help them better discover their interests and values, learn about career options and develop the skills and polish to land their dream job. For the 40 percent of graduating students who are seeking to continue their education in graduate or professional schools, the Career Center is developing a four-year roadmap to ensure our students are competitive and prepared for the admission process.
And when they leave, young alumni who are still in the job hunt after graduation will have an additional year of access to on-campus interviews and can use Career Center resources for up to two years. After that, alums can tap career counseling and coaching through the Emory Alumni Association and continue to have unlimited access to the Eagle Ops job postings board.
New economic realities have created challenges, but our core commitment and the investment of our resources remain focused on our students. As we cap another year with commencement on the Quad, the entire Campus Life staff --- joined by our colleagues throughout the University look forward to continuing our mission to support the development of our students into the ethically engaged leaders needed in our world.
John L. Ford, Ph.D.