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Oxford College is a two-year residential college specializing in the foundations of liberal arts education, and is one of nine divisions of Emory University. The college is located on Emory University's original 1836 campus in Oxford, Georgia, 38 miles east of the main Atlanta campus. Students from this campus automatically continue their studies at the Atlanta campus after successfully completing Oxford's curriculum. Oxford stresses excellence in liberal arts scholarship, leadership, and community life.

The College is also host to a small Confederate States of America Soldiers' Cemetery. During the Civil War campus buildings saw duty both as a Confederate hospital and Union headquarters.


Prior to Emory College's move to Atlanta [1833–1915][]

In 1833 the Georgia Methodist Conference first contemplated the establishment of a church-sponsored manual labor school, where students would combine farm work with a college preparatory curriculum. In doing so, they planted the seed that became Emory College — and later Oxford College of Emory University.

Events preceding the chartering of Emory College began in 1834. That year, at a meeting of the Georgia Methodist Conference, a preacher known as "Uncle" Allen Turner suggested that Georgia Methodists should have their own college instead of supporting Randolph-Macon in Virginia. On December 18, 1834, the Georgia General Assembly chartered the Georgia Methodists Conference Manual Labor School. In 1835, the school opened in Newton County, with physician and minister Alexander Means as superintendent. During the first year of operation the Board of Trustees, at the urging of Ignatius Alphonso Few, asked the Conference to expand the school into a college. Ignatius Alphonso Few was a Princeton-educated lawyer and skeptic-turned-Methodist who would later be elected the first president of Emory College. On December 10, 1836, the Georgia General Assembly granted the Georgia Methodist Conference a charter to establish a college to be named for John Emory, a popular bishop who had presided at the 1834 conference but was later killed in 1835 from a carriage accident. The Georgia Methodists were given a 1400 acre (5.7 km²) tract of land north of Covington, Georgia. In 1837, at its first meeting, the Board of Trustees accepted land belonging to establish both a "contemplated college" and a proposed new town of Oxford, Georgia. By 1838, Emory College began admitting students.

For the duration of the nineteenth century, Emory College remained a small institution which offered students both a classical curriculum and professional training. Its students studied four years of Greek, Latin, and mathematics and devoted three years to the English Bible and the sciences of geography, astronomy, and chemistry. In 1875, the first laboratory-based studies for students commenced, alongside a rise of activity by the college's debating societies. Such debates included the justifiability of war, women's suffrage, the morality of slavery, and prohibition.

One of Emory College's most famous alumni from this early period was Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (II), a native Georgian who graduated from Emory College in 1845. Lamar married the daughter of Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, one of the school's early presidents. Lamar would go on to represent Mississippi in the United States Senate and become the lone Mississippian to have served on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Emory College was closed briefly during the American Civil War. In the autumn of 1861, academic activity almost completely ceased when students left to fight in the conflict. During the war, the college's buildings saw duty both as a Confederate hospital and Union headquarters. Sadly, the school's library and other archives were destroyed. It was not until the summer of 1865 that the campus was able to fully return to its academic functions.

In the autumn of 1866, Emory College reopened its doors with a limited endowment and few students. The first postbellum commencement was held in 1867 and conferred degrees on the class of 1862, most of whom had fought in the war and with some already interred in military graves. Experiencing financial straits, the college finally received a lasting endowment when George Seney, a Methodist banker and philanthropist from New York who was impressed by a speech he had heard by then-Emory president Atticus Haygood, gave Emory College $5,000 to repay its debts, $50,000 to construct a new main building, and $75,000 to establish a new endowment — enormous sums for the time.

Emory College remained small and financially limited for the next thirty years. Its enrollment peaked at about 400 students. Nonetheless, Emory College produced several notable graduates during this transitional era. Alben W. Barkley went on to represent Kentucky in both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate before becoming — at age 71 in 1949 — the oldest Vice-President of the United States in history. Thomas M. Rivers became one of the nation's premier virologists at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School, investigating encephalitis and smallpox and later leading the National Science Foundation's quest for a polio vaccine. Dumas Malone went on to become the head of Harvard University Press, one of the nation's leading academic publishers, and completed a Pulitzer Prize-winning six-volume study of Thomas Jefferson when he was past 90 years of age.

In 1913, Bishop Warren A. Candler, a former Emory College president, persuaded the General Conference of United Methodist Church to make Emory the nucleus of a new university. At the same time, Emory began its long-standing association with The Coca-Cola Company, as the bishop's brother was Asa Griggs Candler. Asa had become wealthy from promoting the popular soft drink and agreed to endow the school with one million dollars. He also convinced the school's administration to move to Atlanta. The Candler family provided a hilly 75 acres (304,000 m²) in the new emerging Druid Hills neighborhood northeast of DeKalb County.

After Emory College's move to Atlanta [1915-Present][]

Bishop Candler initially pressed for Emory's undergraduate program to remain at Oxford. However, the newly organized Board of Trustees decided to relocate Emory College and all its faculty, equipment and financial resources to the Druid Hills campus in Atlanta. Bishop Candler proposed that the Oxford campus be reorganized as a college preparatory academy. Candler reasoned that the American South needed a first-class, residential, secondary school, similar to that of Andover and Exeter in the Northeast. With Candler's support for the project, Emory trustees organized the Emory University Academy at Oxford. The Academy, established in 1916, enjoyed a promising beginning, and student enrollment tripled in the first three years. Unfortunately, the combination of economic depression and improvements to public schools in Georgia eventually led to the conclusion that a freestanding academy could not be sustained, and faculty campaigned to restore college-level course work at Oxford. In 1929, Emory included Oxford in its network of lower collegiate divisions. Emory Junior College at Oxford and the Emory Academy shared the same campus. For more than twenty years, "Emory at Oxford" functioned as both an Academy and as a junior college. Post World War II, administrators sought to make Oxford more appealing to prospective students. Influenced by the experimental models of integrating secondary and post-secondary education at the University of Chicago, Emory and Oxford leaders reorganized the Oxford curriculum into the South's first accredited four-year junior college. The "Four-Year Program" combined an accelerated program for the last two years of high school with the first two years of college. Unfortunately, the Four-Year Program could never recruit enough talented high school juniors to fully populate the lower classes.

In the early 1960s, Oxford evolved once more. Now called Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford positioned itself as a two-year college. Oxford was not a "junior college" in the standard way, but a focused two-year program of liberal arts education leading directly to continued studies and academic specialization on Emory's main campus in Atlanta (at either Emory College, the Goizueta Business School, or the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing).

Oxford students generally are very well prepared for academic work on the Atlanta campus with a high number being elected to Phi Beta Kappa and other honorary societies. Alumni from recent classes have been admitted to graduate programs across the country and world, at institutions such as Harvard University, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, University of Oxford, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University, Columbia University, Brown University among others. In addition, Oxford alumni remain particularly well-connected during their time at the Atlanta campus and in their years beyond.

Athletics, clubs and traditions[]

Oxford's sports teams, as are those of the rest of Emory University, are called the Eagles. Oxford's athletic teams are members of both the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association and National Junior College Athletic Association. Oxford College currently sponsors women's soccer, men's basketball, and both men's and women's tennis. The men's tennis team won back-to-back NJCAA III National Championships in 2006 and 2007and a third in 2009. The men's basketball program started during the 1998-99 schoolyear and only won one game during its inaugural campaign. The next year saw Oxford suit up the first "recruited" players, and after an 0-8 start the team rebounded to win nine of its final 11 games to finish 9-10. Freshmen Thomas Sailors, Scott Caton, Alex Rivers, Jon Newberry joined with sophomore captain James Olson to form a solid starting five. Sailors set early school records for scoring while Newberry set a single game record for assists (16 vs. Carver Bible College) that still stands today.

Traditions at Oxford include Dooley, the "Spirit of Emory" and the unofficial mascot of the university. Dooley is a skeleton and is usually dressed in black and makes regular appearances on campus. Arriving in a hearse, he has the ability to dismiss classes. He originated as a specimen skeleton in a biology lab in 1899, and the current (female) skeleton in Oxford's anatomy lab also bears the name "Dooley". The name "Dooley" was given in 1909. He adopts the first name and middle initial of the University's current president, currently Claire S., and as such, is referred to as "Lady Claire S. Dooley". While Dooley herself doesn't speak, his spokesman takes a scroll from Dooley, calls up individual students, and in rhyming prose unleashes an acid-tongue attack on that student's social behavior, usually insulting their drinking or drug use, their sexual activities, or other unsavory behavior. However, Dooley may also highly praise students for their hard work and effort on campus, especially those who do not compromise principles and engage in negative activities.

Since Oxford only has freshman and sophomore students, it does not have traditional fraternities and sororities. In their stead are "social clubs," which may be co-ed or unisex. Instead of pledging, students "tap in" to these clubs. The prominent social clubs at Oxford are Dooley's Dolls, Circle K, Gamma Phi, Kappa Phi Nu, Omicron Phi Omega, Omega Delta, RoyalT, Triangle L (TL), Sigma Gamma, the Knights of Oxford, and Delta Psi Epsilon. These clubs are generally created by students and are unaffiliated with a larger institution. Dooley's Dolls is the oldest social club, devoted to the school's mascot, Lord James Dooley. Circle K also claims to be the first social club, but has evolved into a community service club. The Knights of Oxford (aka Kappa Omega) was founded in 1984-85 and is currently enjoying their 25th anniversary. Gamma Phi has one male member in each class whose duty it is to memorize and protect a twelve hundred thirty-four word mission statement that is protected from the student body and school administration. RoyalT is the smallest and oldest feminest secret society on Oxford's campus. There are groups of students who do not believe Gamma Phi and RoyalT are still active. Omicron Phi Omega is traditionally African-American, but not exclusively. Sigma Gamma is a single gender offshoots of Delta Psi Epsilon. The society represents strong bonds between loyal friendships. In the case of TL, membership is grounds for suspension or expulsion from the school. Nevertheless, until recently, loyal club alumni wearing their trademark yellow hats traveled back to Oxford for their annual Reunion, held every year on April 20. Lil, a woman who worked in the campus dining hall, became an honorary Dooley's Doll. Although Lil retired in 2004, the dining hall on Oxford's campus is still known by students as "Lil's." In the fall of 2007, a ceremony was held to officially recognize all of Lil's hard work, and the campus now officially recognizes the dining hall as "Lil's."

Oxford's newly renovated Phi Gamma Hall was used during the Civil War as a Confederate hospital and is said to be haunted by a Confederate nurse. It is currently slated to be combined with the campus library to create a larger academic and social space.

In the first episode filmed of the television series The Dukes of Hazzard, and the General Lee jumping in front of Oxford's Seney Hall remained in the opening credits for the rest of the series. This stunt recreated by MTV for its series Your Movie Show in July 2005 on the release of The Dukes of Hazzard movie. Every year, fans of the series come to celebrate the anniversary of the first jump in front of Seney. In the 1990s, students also frequently rented out another Dukes of Hazzard locale, The Boar's Nest, for field parties. The show In the Heat of the Night also filmed some scenes on campus and in the town of Oxford.

Recently, Oxford College received media attention for a campus prank occurring in April 2008. Several pranksters had stolen a zebra from a nearby zebra farm and placed it on the third floor of the historic Seney Tower.

Notable alumni[]

  • Alben W. Barkley - 35th United States Vice President
  • John B. Cobb - Process theologian
  • James Edward Dickey (class of 1891) - last President of Emory College and first President of Emory University. Later elected a Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South
  • Tinsley Ellis - Blues Singer
  • Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (II) - Former United States Supreme Court Justice and Senator from Mississippi
  • Gordon Lee (congressman) (class of 1880) - U.S. congressman from Georgia
  • Dumas Malone - Pulitzer Prize winning historian, former head of Harvard University Press
  • Thomas M. Rivers - Famous virologist, headed the National Science Foundation's search for a polio vaccine
  • Robert W. Woodruff - Former President of the Coca-Cola Company (left to work at Coca-Cola after two semesters)
  • Keri Hilson - Song Writer and R&B Artist
  • J. Roy Rowland - Member of United States House of Representatives from Georgia's 8th Congressional District (1983-1995). Attended Emory College at Oxford for one year (1943).

Notable faculty[]

Mary Hood - Fiction writer

External links[]

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