2009 Emory Medals honor law, theology alumni

Flanking President Jim Wagner and displaying their new hardware (the Emory Medal, the University's highest award given exclusively to alumni) are Henry Bowden Jr. 74L and Arthur Keys Jr. 92T. Bowden and Keys received their medals at a ceremony on Friday, October 30.

The 2009 Emory Medalists include an attorney whose lifelong relationship with Emory will positively impact students for generations to come, and an ordained minister whose humanitarian work as the head of one of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has improved the lives of more than 100 million people around the globe.

At a ceremony, Friday, October 30, in Cox Hall, those alumni, Henry Bowden Jr. 74L and Arthur Keys Jr. 92T, received the Emory Medal. Presented by the Emory Alumni Association (EAA), the Emory Medal is the highest University award given exclusively to alumni.

Henry Bowden Jr. has made the promotion of Emory’s best interests an integral part of his everyday life since arriving as a student at the School of Law nearly four decades ago. An accomplished attorney, he is the founder of Bowden Law Firm (recently renamed Bowden Spratt Law Firm), whose practice focuses on estate planning and administration, charitable gift planning, and the representation of tax-exempt organizations.

Bowden was president of the Emory Law Alumni Association in 1986–87, has served on the Emory Board of Trustees since 1986, and was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus by the law school in 2005. Bowden also plays an active role in the Atlanta community, having served as chairman of the Atlanta Ballet and of the historic Oakland Cemetery Foundation, and the boards of many private foundations.

His passionate commitment to and generous support of Emory is a Bowden legacy: his wife Jeanne 77L (who Bowden met at Cox Hall, site of the award ceremony), grandfather, father, sister, and son all attended the University, and scholarships awarded in each of his parents’ names are granted by the law school and the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

From mission work in the 1980s in what was then Yugoslavia to his current commitments to improve the living conditions of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and even here in the United States, Arthur Keys Jr.’s dedication knows no boundaries—national, cultural, religious, or otherwise.

Keys, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, is the founder, president, and CEO of International Relief and Development (IRD), one of the world’s largest NGOs. Keys has been involved in the management of approximately $1 billion of development assistance, with major grants from a variety of U.S. government and international agencies.

The 3,000-person organization currently serves more than 100 million people around the globe. With Keys’ guidance, IRD has begun a partnership with Candler School of Theology and Emory’s Institute of Developing Nations (IDN), an initiative that supports many worthwhile causes, such as providing grants to foster research on international development and conflict resolution as well as to fund internships in settings that deal with public health infrastructure, conflict migration, interfaith cooperation, and more.

Keys had already earned his master’s of divinity degree and had devoted many years to interfaith relief and advocacy when he came to Candler to pursue his doctorate of ministry. Drawn to Candler’s strengths in the areas of Christian ethics and church and community ministries, Keys learned at Candler how to broaden his relief and development perspective.

For his work on issues related to poverty and global inequality, Keys received the 2005 William Sloane Coffin Award for Peace and Justice from Yale University Divinity School.


“The contributions of Henry Bowden and Arthur Keys to the Emory community have been remarkable,” said Leslie Wingate 82C, senior director for alumni programs with the EAA. “Their engagement with the Emory community serves as an example for all alumni to follow. Fewer than 150 alumni have received the Emory Medal and the EAA is proud to welcome our 2009 recipients into this exclusive group.”

About the Emory Medal

The Emory Medal is the highest University award presented exclusively to alumni. The medal is awarded each year by the EAA; honorees are selected by the Emory Alumni Board (EAB) and are recognized for their accomplishments in at least one of the following areas:

  • Distinguished service to Emory, the Emory Alumni Association, or a constituent alumni association.

  • Distinguished community or public service.

  • Distinguished achievement in business, the arts, the professions, government, or education.

The Emory Medal was first awarded in 1946; it previously was known as the Alumni Association Award of Honor. The award was not given again until 1949. Since then—with rare exception—the Emory Medal has been given annually to one or more recipients. While in the past non-Emory alumni have received Emory Medals, they now are given exclusively to alumni.

The Emory Medal is one of the University’s most prestigious honors. The current Emory Medal was designed and cast in 2007. That year, the Association of Emory Alumni was renamed the Emory Alumni Association, and the medal was updated to reflect the change.

The medal is emblazoned with the University seal, which features the years 1836 and 1915 to mark its founding at Oxford (1836) and move to Atlanta (1915), and a crossed torch and trumpet, representing the light and dissemination of knowledge. Encircling that image is the University motto: Cor prudentis possidebit scientiam. Translated: “The prudent heart will possess knowledge.”—Eric Rangus