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Myra Frady and a campus built for learning

OXFORD, Ga. - Myra Frady is a builder. During her 28-year career as a teacher and administrator at Oxford College of Emory University, she has helped and often led the development of a robust information technology infrastructure, the renovation or construction of buildings, renewal of the campus landscape, and more.

Her work has been driven by a passion for students as well as to serve the teaching and learning mission of Oxford College. Frady put it this way, “Every project we build is about teaching and learning, not about building. All the information technology infrastructure is about teaching and learning, not about IT. It’s the students. It’s about their opportunity and providing that for them that drives me.”

Frady, Oxford College’s dean for resource planning and chief financial officer, will retire at the end of this month. To honor her transformational work as teacher and administrator the college recently renamed the lobby of Language Hall, a building that was completed gutted and restored on Frady’s watch. Its lobby is now and forever will be the “Frady Lobby.”

When asked what Oxford College has meant to her, Frady said, ““Oxford is a special place. It is very family oriented. It is a community in and of itself.

“This campus has a vibration of its own. And that vibration has been created by every single person who has walked these grounds, wanted to preserve what is good about this place, and participated in a conversation grounded in the liberal arts. For me to have such a mission-driven place is so inspiring and so rewarding.”

She added, “Every day there is something new happening, but there is always a sense of preservation for what is good. We take Atticus Haygood’s quote literally, ‘Stand by what is good and make it better if you can.’ We all try to aspire to that. The people that really buy into that form a bond with this place that is palpable.” (Haygood was Emory University’s president from 1876 to 1884.)

“That sense of place along with an opportunity to get to know people, especially students, in a more complete way is very meaningful to me. Even though I have been out of the classroom for 17 years, I still meet with students and get their input. We have students on every planning committee for every building. It’s amazing to have lifelong relationships with students.”

When asked what she has meant to Oxford College, Frady mentioned first her contributions as a teacher and mentor, “Because that comes first for me. It has informed every decision I have ever made as an administrator.”

She added that she is proud to have participated in improving the College’s financial security, renovating old and building new buildings, completing an historic restoration of the quadrangle, creating a pedestrian campus, adding additional property to the campus, and developing a close working relationship with the City of Oxford.

That last item is one that Frady considers to be among her “most important and most gratifying accomplishments.” She said, “The mayor, the council members, and the planning commission have worked with us to create porous boundaries. There is not a college and then a town, there is a community. We have all worked together for that and I think the City and we are very proud of it.”

Frady grew up and graduated from high school in Etowah, Tennessee. She attended Georgia State University earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics. She taught for one year at Georgia State before starting as a faculty member in mathematics and computer science at Oxford College in the fall of 1989.

She was a full-time teacher for three years, but during that time realized that “Students did not have the computer infrastructure they needed to move to the next level. I wrote a long report to the dean and he said, ‘Ok, well go do it.’” So she helped build and then worked part-time in the information technology department.

In 1997 Frady was asked to see what she could do to implement information technology in the College’s business office. That began her role as an administrator. Soon after, Oxford College successfully completed one of Emory University’s first implementations of the software it continues to use to support student accounts, records, and the University’s business operations.

Three years later, she became associate dean for finance, operation, and information technology. In 2004, she was appointed to her current position; one in which she has lead all of the College’s non-academic operations other than campus life and enrollment management.  

“I could not have done any of this without my family,” says Frady. “The support from my husband was absolutely critical. He was a professor of mathematics at Georgia State University and Auburn University. He was my mentor, my friend. I would call him up and say ‘I need a formula, help me work through this’ and he would drop everything and support me. He was an absolutely amazing man.” Charles S. Frady passed away three years ago.

In retirement, she plans to spend more time with her mother, four children, and eight grandchildren. She will travel, particularly to the beach, and pursue her interests in painting, drawing, and photography. Frady is the current president of the Newton County Arts Association board of directors. She may do some teaching and intends to stay involved with Oxford College’s organic farm.