Oxford College
MottoCor prudentis possidebit scientiam
Motto in EnglishThe wise heart seeks knowledge, [Proverbs 18:15]
Religious affiliationUnited Methodist
PresidentStephen Bowen
LocationOxford, Georgia, USA
33°37′10″N 83°52′16″W / 33.619519, -83.871045</td></tr>
CampusSmall Town</td></tr>
Former namesEmory College
Emory University Academy
Emory at Oxford</td></tr>
ColorsBlue and gold</td></tr>
MascotSwoop the Eagle</td></tr>


Oxford College of Emory University, also called Oxford College and originally founded as Emory College, is an American two-year residential college specializing in the foundations of liberal arts education. It is the birthplace and one of nine academic divisions of Emory University. The college is located on Emory University's original campus in Oxford, Georgia, 38 miles east of Emory's Atlanta campus. Students at Oxford automatically continue their studies in Atlanta after successfully completing Oxford's curriculum.

Emory College was originally built one mile north of Covington, Georgia by the Georgia Methodist Conference, after a failed attempt to establish a church-sponsored manual labor school a few miles away. The school opened in 1838, named after John Emory, an influential Methodist bishop who had died before the school's opening, and Oxford University, the alma mater of the founders of the Methodist movement. The college's facilities were used by both Confederate and Union generals as military headquarters and infirmaries throughout various stages of the American Civil War, and many of the buildings were permanently damaged. After the turn of the 20th century, Emory College received a generous monetary and land grant from Asa Griggs Candler, president of The Coca-Cola Company, and moved its operations to Druid Hills, closer to Atlanta. During those years, Oxford spent time as a college preparatory school, junior college, four-year college, and finally the two-year Emory liberal arts program known today as Oxford College. The college and surrounding structures related to the founding of Emory College is part of the Oxford Historic District.[1]

Oxford College has a total enrollment of around 900 freshman and sophomore students from a wide variety of religious, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds, including over 38 states and 20 foreign countries.[2] Campus organizations include various community service groups, interest clubs, and "social clubs", the school's replacement for traditional fraternities and sororities. Oxford participates in NJCAA Division III sports, with the men's and women's tennis teams winning national championships multiple times.[3]


Founding and early historyEdit

In 1833 the Georgia Methodist Conference first considered establishing a church-sponsored manual labor school, where students would combine farm work with a college preparatory curriculum. At the Georgia Methodist Conference in 1834, a preacher known as "Uncle Allen" Turner suggested that Georgia Methodists should develop their own school rather than support Randolph-Macon College in Virginia.[4] As a result, the Georgia Conference Manual Labor School opened in 1835, but immediately began facing financial challenges. The Conference then granted Ignatius Alphonso Few a charter to establish a college named after John Emory, a Methodist bishop who was involved in the labor school's founding but had died in a carriage accident before the school opened.[5] The new school, Emory College, was first established on tract of land in Newton County one mile north of Covington, Georgia. This site was chosen because of its relative distance from the city, which the school's founders feared would be a source of distraction for its students.[6] The town was named Oxford after Oxford University, the alma mater of Charles Wesley and John Wesley, founders of the Methodist movement.[7] Because the college and town were planned together, many of the town's residents were affiliated to the college. Consequently, the two entities shared a common purpose.[8] By an act of the state legislature, the town of Oxford was incorporated on December 23, 1839.[9]

Two years after the chartering, the college opened its doors, and on September 17, 1838, the college's first president, Ignatius Alphonso Few, and three faculty members welcomed fifteen freshmen and sophomores.[4] In order to raise money for maintaining the school, Few began selling lots around the college to local citizens.[1] The founders envisaged a curriculum that would rest squarely on the classics and mathematics, with four years' study of Greek, Latin, and mathematics and three years' study of the English Bible and the sciences of geography, astronomy, and chemistry. According to historian Henry M. Bullock, the founders intended Emory to be, "in the fullest sense of the term, a Christian college."[10]

Literary societiesEdit

File:Phi Gamma Hall (1975).png

In 1837, one of the first acts of the new student body was the founding of the Phi Gamma debate society on campus. The society adapted a motto: "Scientia et Religio Libertatis Custodes".[11] In 1851, Phi Gamma Hall was constructed and remains the oldest structure still remaining on Oxford's campus.[12] A few years later, Phi Gamma decided it needed a rival society to compete with. Consequently, fourteen members withdrew from Phi Gamma to establish Few society, named after Ignatius Few.[11] The facilities and libraries of each debate society were open to members of the rival society. The two halls oppose each other across the quad, and both buildings are variations of two-story Greek Revival structures with temple form designs and columned porticos.[1] Debate topics included the justifiability of war, women's suffrage, the morality of slavery, and prohibition.[11]

In 1850, members of the two literary societies debated whether or not Georgia should secede from the union. A vote on the matter by members of both societies resolved for Georgia to remain in the union.[13] However, when the American Civil War broke out, both debate societies temporarily suspended their activities as members left school to fight in the war. Both Phi Gamma and Few Halls were used as infirmaries for wounded soldiers from 1843 to 1864.[14]

Civil War and ReconstructionEdit

Prior to the outbreak of war, financial tension had reduced the college's income and student body, and the school briefly closed in the summer of 1861 in anticipation of the American Civil War.[15] During the war, college facilities were used by both Northern and Southern soldiers as military headquarters and infirmaries. Because of this, many deceased soldiers ended up buried on campus.[16] The school's library and other archives were damaged and later destroyed due to mishandling by military generals. It was not until the summer of 1866 that the campus was able to fully return to its academic functions, when it reopened with twenty students and three professors.[5] Emory College continued to struggle with financial hardships after the war.

File:Few Monument.JPG

In 1880, the school's fortunes reversed when College President Atticus G. Haygood preached a Thanksgiving Day sermon expressing gratitude for the end of slavery and calling on the South to put the past behind them to "cultivate the growth of industry". The speech captured the attention of George I. Seney, a Brooklyn banker and Methodist. Seney gave Emory College $5,000 to repay its debts, $50,000 for construction, and $75,000 to establish a new endowment. Over the years, Seney invested more than a quarter-million dollars into Emory College, helping to erect the Victorian Gothic-style administrative building in the center of Oxford College that bears his name.[17] The bell in the Seney Hall clocktower is the oldest permanent historical monument at Emory University today. Cast in 1796, it was a gift from Alexander Means, fourth President of Emory College, who in turn was given it by Queen Victoria.[1][18]

Move to AtlantaEdit

By the turn of the 20th century, Emory College still remained rooted in Oxford. Nonetheless, Emory College produced several notable graduates during this 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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] Wilbur A. Carlton, a student at Emory College in 1910, described his experiences at the school at the time:
"At that time, half-a century ago, Oxford was completely without pavement, plumbing in the homes, and electric lights except for the Williams Gymnasium and the Young J. Allen Memorial Church, which were furnished electricity by a dynamo in the boiler room of the gym. And of course, we obtained water from open wells for drinking as well as for all other purposes ... We had to do our studying by the light of a kerosene lamp. There were scarcely any automobiles and absolutely no co-eds at that particular time although there had been a few previously. There was only one college dormitory, Marvin Hall, which was "outmoded" even for 1910 and which could accommodate only a small part of the student body ... Most of the students lived in boarding houses (or private homes), of which there were several ... Such was our beloved Oxford in 1910."
—Wilbur A. Carlton, In Memory of Old Emory (1962)[22]

Soon, the Georgia Methodist Conference began seriously discussing transforming Emory College into a university, with Birmingham and Atlanta both bidding to host the institution.[23] Atlanta was chosen as the home of new Emory University after Asa Griggs Candler, president of the Coca-Cola Company, deeded the university 65 acres of land in Druid Hills, six miles from the city's downtown, and contributed $1 million to the school's endownment.[24] Candler was originally reluctant to donate money to a project that he called "a crumbling castle", but his brother, Warren Candler, convinced him otherwise.[25] Asa Candler went on to serve as chair of the Emory University Board of Trustees and his brother later served as university president.[26]

The Oxford campus continued to be used after the school's move to Atlanta. The site was home to the Emory University Academy, organized in 1915 as a preparatory school modeled after Phillips Academy and Phillips Exeter Academy in order to respond to the failure of the state's public high schools.[27] By 1921, the academy had reached its peak enrollment of three hundred, doubling its enrollment mark while still a college.[28] Due to financial concerns, however, Emory University cut programs for all academic divisions at the academy, laid off faculty, and raised tuition. Third-party financial support for the academy also faded away. By the mid-1930s, the University Academy was renamed "Emory Junior College at Oxford" as college-level curriculum was introduced and a junior college was set up on campus.[29] In 1947, 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.[30] The program combined an accelerated program for the last two years of high school with the first two years of college, but the program ended in 1963 after facing enrollment shortages.[31] Dean Virgil Eady then recommended a name change to "Oxford College of Emory University", reaffirming that Oxford is part of Emory University and not a "quasi-independent college at Oxford". The new college was then set up as a two-year liberal arts program, similar in concept to the early Emory College.[32]


File:Oxford city plan (1837).jpg

Oxford College is located on a small campus in the western part of Newton County, approximately 38 miles east of Emory's Atlanta campus. The campus is located in the center of Oxford, about half a mile north of Interstate 20 and directly bounded by Georgia State Route 81 (signed as "Emory Street") to the east and can be accessed through Hamill Street. Today, much of the campus is organized around a pedestrian-only quadrangle in the center and a few small streets.[33]

The campus and the city of Oxford was planned and built in 1837 by Edward Lloyd Thomas, a Georgia land surveyor who also planned the city of Columbus, Georgia.[1] The school's facilities were designed around a rectangular quadrangle plan and two existing buildings, Phi Gamma Hall and a chapel. A nearly identical replica of Phi Gamma, Few Hall, was erected opposite of Phi Gamma across the quad a few years later. The existing and planned buildings were all Greek Revival temple-like structures with white columned porticos.[1] A marble shaft was erected in the center of the quad in 1885 by the Grand Masonic Lodge of Georgia in memory of Ignatius Alphonso Few. After the Civil War, Language Hall was constructed with similarly columned porticoes in place, and was recently renovated and restored in 2013.[34] In 1881, Seney Hall was erected west of Language Hall, to the south and center of the original quad plan.[1] The five-story structure was Oxford's first Victorian Gothic-style building and is topped by a clock and bell tower featuring a bell gifted by Queen Victoria to the college in 1855.[18] Candler Hall was built east of Language Hall a decade later in the Neoclassical architectural style and served as the library until 1970. Today it serves as a student center and houses a Barnes & Noble bookstore.[35] In 1975, the college's campus and many of its older buildings, including Phi Gamma Hall, Seney Hall, Few Hall, Language Hall, Candler Hall, Few Monument, chapel, Old Gym, Allen Memorial Church, and other surrounding structures were listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) as Oxford Historic District.[1]


File:Seney Hall.JPG

Oxford College (as part of Emory's undergraduate program) offers introductory and intermediate courses that contribute to undergraduate degrees in eighty-five majors, the most popular being economics, psychology, biology, neuroscience and behavioral biology, and political science.[36] All courses are on a credit hour system. Some of the classes are "theory-practice service learning" courses, which integrate theory learning in the classroom with real-world service application.[37] All students receive an associate of the arts or associate of the sciences degree upon graduation.[38]


As of Fall 2012, Oxford College has 58 faculty members in teaching positions,[36] including Nitya Jacob, associate professor of biology who is one of fifteen international recipients of Science Magazine's Inquiry-Based-Instruction Prize.[39]

Oxford College also has a visiting scholar agreement with Oxford University in England, where a faculty member from each exchanges places for at least one week, giving public lectures at their host location. Visiting professors include Jane Shaw and Tiffany Stern.[40]


Oxford College enrolled 909 students for the 2012–13 academic year, with an average class size of 20 students. 26% of the students enrolled are Asian/Pacific Islanders, 14% are African American, and 6% are Latino.[36] Students who apply to Emory University may choose to begin study for four semesters at Oxford College before automatically continuing to the School of Arts and Sciences in Atlanta. Continuees may also choose to apply for admission to the Goizueta Business School or the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.[41]

There were 6,560 applicants for the Oxford College class of 2014,[a] of whom 41% were ultimately accepted.[2] Oxford College maintains the same application as Emory College on the Common Application, and applicants merely have to select one box or both regarding which school they wish to apply to. In addition to regular decision, students may choose to apply via the restrictive Early Decision option to either Emory College or Oxford College, or both, but not to another school. Early decision and regular decision applicants are able to participate in the Oxford Scholars program, the highest tier of which offers a full academic merit scholarship for four semesters at Oxford and four semesters at Emory.[42] Admitted students had a 50th-percentile range GPA of 3.5–3.92 and SAT scores ranging from 600–700 in Critical Reading, and 620–750 in mathematics. Enrolled students for the class of 2014 came from 367 high schools and 75% came from outside of the state of Georgia.[2] 62% of undergraduates received financial aid with an average aid package of $32,901, and a total of 242 students received academic merit scholarships.[43]

Student lifeEdit

File:East Village Oxford.JPG

All students are required to live on campus in one of four dormitories: Haygood Hall, Branham & East, Jolly Residential Center, and the newest residence hall, East Village, which opened in 2008 with LEED Gold environmental certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.[44] Oxford has a daytime and a night-time dining service.[45] The Williams Gymnasium has an indoor hybrid basketball, volleyball, and badminton court, an indoor track, indoor pool, weight room, and aerobic studio. There are also ten tennis courts and a regulation soccer field on campus. The Fleming Woods and hiking trails owned by Newton County surround the campus.[46]

Emory University's bus routes provide service between the Atlanta campus and the Oxford campus, Stonecrest Mall, and connections to Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority stations.[47]

Student groupsEdit

Historically, student clubs at Oxford were not reliably active for long periods of time because of high membership turnover, so in 1988 Leadership Oxford and ExCEL were designed for first and second year students respectively to help enhance their leadership skills.[48]

As of 2012 there were over 50 registered student organizations which cover a variety of interests: student government, intramural sports, arts, media and publications, music, political/activist, ethnic/cultural, religion, and others. Many of Oxford's student clubs participate in community service, particularly Volunteer Oxford, Bonner Leader Program, and Circle K. Consequently, 92% of Oxford students participated in community service, contributing over 10,000 hours in one academic year.[49] Oxford College hours helped Emory University win the 2008 Presidential Award for General Community Service, an award given to higher education institutions for their commitment to community service, service-learning and civic engagement.[50]

Oxford does not have traditional fraternities and sororities on campus. In their stead are "social clubs", and instead of pledging, students "tap in" to these clubs. Historically some of these social clubs, whose members meet regularly at social functions, were determined by geography, such as the Florida Club, South Georgia Club, and Alabama Club.[51] Today, social clubs use the Greek alphabet and mimic[b] the functions of fraternities and sororities.[52]



Lord Dooley, the "Lord of Misrule" and the "Spirit of Emory", was established as Emory University's unofficial mascot and originated in Oxford in 1901.[53] He was first mentioned in an 1899 article run in the school newspaper, Phoenix, entitled "Reflections of a Skeleton". The article was purportedly written by a skeleton in the science room who complained of his boring existence in the science hall.[18] In 1901, Dooley reappeared, claiming to have been the son of a wealthy Virginia planter who fought in the Revolutionary War and later died of alcohol abuse.[53] In 1941, Dooley began appearing physically on campus, starting the tradition known as "Dooley's Week", when he gets free rein to let students out of classes.[53] Dooley also makes appearances at dances and other Oxford events, coming out of a closed coffin, where then he allows a designated reader pass along his message to the audience.[54]

Dooley borrows his first name and middle initial from the first and last name of the sitting president of Emory University.[53]


Students at Oxford historically stole local farm animals and coaxed them into classrooms as pranks.[55] In the 1930s to 1950s, students began bringing larger four-legged farm animals to the upper floors of Seney Hall. The tradition culminated in 2008 when a group of unidentified students led a local zebra to the third floor of Seney and barricaded the windows, doors, and elevator.[56] The zebra was nicknamed "Barcode", and a stuffed zebra overlooks the quad in Seney Hall in memorial of the event.


File:Emory College Football (1911).png

President Warren Candler started Emory's first intramural sports program in 1897,[57] although he was strongly against intercollegiate sports programs.[58] During these years, Emory had intramural football, baseball, and gymnastic teams. For most of history, Emory did not have an athletic mascot. In 1960, The Emory Wheel sports editor thought it was time to adopt a mascot, but the student body was not interested. Frustrated, he arbitrarily adopted the eagle as the mascot because "the name [was] simply applicable and [had] obvious decorative advantages."[59] Soon thereafter, Oxford followed and adopted the eagle as the mascot.

Today, Oxford's athletic teams are members of the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association and the National Junior College Athletic Association. Oxford College sponsors women's soccer, men's basketball, and men's and women's tennis. The men's tennis team won back-to-back NJCAA III National Championships in 2006 and 2007 and a third in 2009, and the women's tennis team won National Championships in 2011.[3]

Notable alumniEdit

Letter to Robert W. Woodruff's father

I do not think it advisable for him to return to college this term ... He has never learned to apply himself, which together with very frequent absences, makes it impossible for him to succeed as a student."

James E. Dickey, President of Emory College[60]

In popular cultureEdit

In the first episode of the television series The Dukes of Hazzard, General Lee jumped 81 feet in front of Seney Hall, with this scene remaining in the opening credits for the rest of the series. This stunt was recreated by MTV for its series Your Movie Show in July 2005 on the release of The Dukes of Hazzard movie.[68] The show In the Heat of the Night also filmed some scenes on campus and in the town of Oxford. Scenes from the television show The Vampire Diaries were shot in the school's library, quad, and theatre in 2009, 2010, and 2012, and the school also serves as the on-location college set for the fictional Whitmore College.[69]

Oxford College hosted the southern premiere of 8, a verbatim theatre re-enactment by Dustin Lance Black, on March 1–3, 2012. The play chronicles the district court proceedings of Perry v. Schwarzenegger.[70][71]


a Oxford is a two-year program, so the class of 2014 is also part of Emory University's class of 2016.
b One difference of social clubs from fraternities or sororities is that social clubs can be co-ed.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 National Register of Historic Places. Oxford Historic District, Newton County, Georgia. U.S. Department of the Interior (1975).
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  3. 3.0 3.1 "Oxford College profile". NJCAA. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
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  6. Moon 2003, pp. 8
  7. Bullock 1936, pp. 57
  8. Buck 1986, pp. 5
  9. Bullock 1936, pp. 59
  10. Bullock 1936, pp. 64
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 The Emory Campus 1912, pp. 144
  12. Moon 2003, pp. 19
  13. Traditions 2007, pp. 3
  14. Traditions 2007, pp. 23
  15. Bullock 1936, pp. 331
  16. Bullock 1936, pp. 149
  17. English 1966, pp. 6–9
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Traditions 2007, pp. 5
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  22. Carlton 1962, pp. 1
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  24. Bullock 1936, pp. 291
  25. Pendergrast 2000, pp. 97
  26. Traditions 2007, pp. 51
  27. Moon 2003, pp. 27–8
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  31. Moon 2003, pp. 110
  32. Moon 2003, pp. 116
  33. Floyd, Michelle (December 18, 2012). "Construction work continues at Oxford College". Newton Citizen. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  34. "Built in the 19th century, restored for the 21st". Oxford College of Emory University. January 16, 2013. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  35. "Campus Tour, Card Student Center". Oxford College of Emory University. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 "Oxford facts". Emory University. 2012–2013. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
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  38. "{ Emory College Programs]". Emory University. 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
  39. "Jacob wins prestigious prize for science education". March 29, 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  40. Wooten, Cathy (April 5, 2010). "Pierce Program Connects Two Oxfords". Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  41. "Oxford and Emory". Emory University. 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  42. "Application plans". Emory University. 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  43. "Admissions profile 2010–11". Emory University. 2010. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
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  45. "Dining at Emory". Sodexo. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
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  47. "Emory University: Transport". Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  48. Moon 2003, pp. 153
  49. "Community Service at Oxford". Emory University. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  50. "Emory Receives Top Service Recognition". The Emory Wheel. September 2, 2009. Archived from the original on January 19, 2012. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
  51. Carlton 1913, pp. 57
  52. "Social Clubs". Emory University. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  53. 53.0 53.1 53.2 53.3 Traditions 2007, pp. 84–5
  54. Moon 2003, pp. 156
  55. Moon 2003, pp. 90
  56. Bowen, Stephen (April 23, 2008). "Concerning the matter of the zebra". Oxford College. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  57. Traditions 2007, pp. 78
  58. Chace, William M. (March 2002). "Athletics and academic values to have to compete at a research university". Emory Edge. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  59. "Emory Eagle Origins". Emory University. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  60. Pendergast 2000, pp. 152–53
  61. 61.0 61.1 "Famous Alumni, Emory University". Emory University. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  62. Kim, JeeHo (1999). "John B. Cobb, Jr.". Boston University. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  63. Leete 1948
  64. "In Brief". Emory Magazine. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
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  66. "Biography of Rep. Rowland". U.S. House. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  67. Pendergrast 2000, pp. 152
  68. Traditions 2007, pp. 47
  69. "'Vampire Diaries' films for 4th season". Covington News. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  70. "Oxford College of Emory University". American Foundation for Equal Rights. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
  71. "Oxford Drama Guild presents "8"". Oxford College. 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-03-01.


  • The Emory Traditions, Legacy, and Lore. Emory University. 2007.
  • The Emory Campus (1912). Emory College Yearbook. 1912.
  • Bullock, Henry M. (1936). A History of Emory University. Atlanta: Parthenon Press.
  • Buck, Polly S. (1986). The Blessed Town: Oxford, Georgia, at the Turn of the Century. Chapel Hill: Algonquin. ISBN 0-912697-38-5.
  • Carlton, Wilbur A. (1962). In Memory of Old Emory. Atlanta: Emory University.
  • English, Thomas H. (1966). Emory University 1915–1965: A Semicentennial History. Atlanta: Emory University.
  • Horsfall, F L (1965). "Thomas Milton Rivers, September 3, 1888-May 12, 1962". Biographical memoirs. National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) 38. PMID 11615452.
  • Leete, Frederick D. (1948). Methodist Bishops. Nashville: The Methodist Publishing House.
  • Moon, Joseph C. (2003). An Uncommon Place: Oxford College of Emory University, 1914–2000. Atlanta: Bookhouse Group.
  • Pendergrast, Mark (2000). For God, Country, and Coca-Cola. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-05468-4.

External linksEdit

Template:Emory University Template:Georgia Private Colleges and Universities

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