Rosemary Magee 82PhD, vice president and secretary of the University, has devoted much of her personal and professional life to Emory. At the main Commencement ceremony, Preisdent Jim Wagner (left) presented her with the Thomas Jefferson Award, honoring her for all she has done and continues to do today.
Rosemary Magee 82PhD has experienced the Emory community as a student, alumna, staff member, faculty member, and now as an administrator. Among other things, she helped build Emory’s summer study abroad program, spearheaded the construction of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, and for the last four years has served as secretary of the University. She has given a great deal to Emory—and that generous attitude of service hasn’t stopped with her receipt of the 2008 Thomas Jefferson Award.
“I have had the full Emory experience,” said Magee, who was honored during Emory’s 163rd Commencement ceremony, May 12. “I’ve had the pleasure of working at Emory, but I’ve also had the opportunity to reinvent myself as the institution has shaped itself.”
The Jefferson Award is given each year to a faculty member or administrator in appreciation for significant service through personal activities, influence, and leadership. The personal and professional qualities of the recipient resemble those Jefferson would have considered essential to the intellectual, social, and political advancement of a society.
“Everything that I’ve been able to contribute to this institution, has also substantially enriched my life,” Magee said. “I’m really standing on the shoulders of so many friends, colleagues, and collaborators. This award represents their work and their contributions as well.”
Two of those friends are Robbie Brown 07C and Rachel Zelkowitz 08C, both of whom Magee describes as “her role models.” In more ways than one.
Brown and Zelkowitz are both winners of the Lucius Lamar McMullen Award, a student leadership and citizenship honor that carries with it a $25,000 no-strings-attached gift. Brown selflessly donated his entire award to an orphanage in India started by his classmate Elizabeth Sholtys 07C. Zelkowitz, too, is donating a portion of her award to the Emory Counseling Center.
The students’ generosity—and example—moved Magee to donate part of her cash award to help fund the Emory Alumni Board (EAB) Leadership Scholarship, a new alumni-driven campaign to assist leading students who also show financial need.
“Rachel was one of the first people I told [about receiving the Jefferson],” Magee said. The two have been friends since Zelkowitz profiled Magee for The Emory Wheel, where she was a staff member. Brown had been a student in one of her classes and, just before his graduation, he asked her to attend the Emory Scholars brunch as his “most influential teacher.”
“We discussed doing something symbolic,” Magee said, recalling her conversation with Zelkowitz. “And we wanted to honor Robbie’s generous spirit. One of the great things about this University is that everyone can be a teacher and everyone can be a student.”
Magee said she will use the remainder of her Jefferson monetary award to help fund a summer artist-in-residency she is serving in Ireland.
Magee is the second consecutive alumna to receive the Jefferson Award. In 2007, the Jefferson went to Melissa Maxcy Wade 72C 76G 96T 00T, director of the Barkley Forum.
Prior to coming to Emory, Magee earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Florida State University. After earning her doctorate from the Institute of Liberal Arts, Magee began a steady climb up the administrative ladder culminating in her 2004 promotion to vice president and secretary of the University.—Eric Rangus