Board History

In 1914, Asa G. Candler donated one million dollars and 75 acres of land to create a school of higher learning in Atlanta.

Asa G. Candler’s “Million Dollar Letter”

Within months of the famous “Million Dollar Letter,” the School of Theology opened its doors. Other educational units followed suit.

A charter for the new university was granted to the 16 members of the Educational Commission of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1915. These men—who included Asa Candler and his brother, former Emory President Bishop Warren Akin Candler 1898C 1942H—were authorized to serve temporarily as the trustees of Emory until the next quadrennial General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. That conference, held in 1918, elected a board of 30 members, and the board has been self-perpetuating ever since.

Soon thereafter, the Emory College trustees, chaired by Asa Candler, voted to transfer all of the college’s assets to the university and make the college the core of the undergraduate arts and sciences. Emory College moved to Atlanta from Oxford, Georgia, in 1919.

Asa Candler led Emory University as its board chair until his death in 1929. Likewise, Charles Howard Candler Sr. shared his father Asa’s love for Emory, succeeding his father as chair of the Board of Trustees in 1929 and serving until his death in 1957.

The first three chairs of the university board of trustees, Asa Candler Sr., Charles Howard Candler Sr. 1898C 1942H, and Henry Bowden Sr. 32C 34L 59H, served for a combined 64 years, from 1915 to 1979. All were prominent Methodist lay leaders in Atlanta. Bowden, a lawyer, led the effort to integrate Emory in 1962.