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Friday, October 2, 2009

Big E in the Big D

When the Emory community gets together, you never know who you'll meet.
Greetings from Dallas, Texas, site of Thursday night's first Presidential Destinations event of the 2009-10 academic year. On the whole, I met more than 60 guests, many of whom braved a torrential downpour unleashed just as the reception started at the Tower Club downtown. One of the most fascinating of those 60 was a man who wasn't an Emory alumnus, hadn't been to campus in more than a decade, but, I bet, could have told me riveting stories all night about our community.
Tom Fernandez served as vice president for student affairs in the 1970s and 1980s before moving on to a vice presidency at the University of Texas at Tyler. He also taught in UT-Tyler's business school and is now a professor emeritus at the school.
Fernandez wasn't shy. A big man, with presence to spare, he asked the first question following President Jim Wagner's address, then closed the Q&A with a laudatory affirmation of Wagner's leadership based solely on meeting the man that night.
I was only able to speak to Fernandez briefly after the event, and I left the building wanting more. His enlightening perspectives on the 1979 Woodruff gift and the campus he knew (much of which no longer exists) were fascinating. He also casually referenced cherishing the Emory Magazine cover that featured him. Looks like I'll have something to look up when I get back to Atlanta.
Destinations: Dallas-Ft. Worth was a great success. Soon, we'll upload to iTunes a podcast of President Wagner's address. My only disappointment was about the view (and it's a small one.) The Tower Club (a spiffy venue ... one I wish I would've had a bit more time to explore), which occupies the 48th floor of Thanksgiving Tower in Dallas, offers spectacular views not just of the city but also of the flat flatness of the Texas prairie that surrounds it. I think I saw Oklahoma.
Anyway, the only disappointment ... Some building blocked our view of Big Tex. :(
Stupid city.
But we could see the Texas State Fair's ferris wheel, though, so we'll take what we can get.
-- Eric Rangus, director of communications, EAA

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