Robert W. Woodruff Legacy

Robert W. Woodruff, the former president of The Coca-Cola Company, believed in helping people reach their full potential.

As a philanthropist, Robert W. Woodruff committed himself to others’ success. A supporter of health sciences and other university initiatives, Mr. Woodruff’s guidance helped take Emory from a regional institution to a nationally-recognized research university. He knew that Emory could be a destination university.

In 1979, Mr. Woodruff planted the seeds for what would become the Emory Scholars Program through his generous gift of $105 million to Emory.   One outcome of that gift was the creation of the Woodruff Scholars.  The goal was simple, use these scholarships to attract true scholars and community partners to Emory – students committed to their studies, but also to engaging with their peers, leading with humility and leaving their mark. 

In the fall of 1981, twelve students enrolled in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences as Woodruff Scholars. In the ensuing years, the Emory Scholars Program has grown from that gift to include ~180 of the Emory’s strongest student contributors.  In addition, the Emory Scholar qualities are grounded in the legacy of Robert W. Woodruff: Intellectual Curiosity, Creative Thinking, Servant Leadership, Communication Skills and Contribution to Community are the qualities of all Emory Scholars.

During his lifetime, Mr. Woodruff often gave anonymously to the organizations he believed in. He wasn’t interested in attention, glory or praise. Mr. Woodruff gave because he believed in improving the lives of those around him.  “There is no limit to what a man can do or how far he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit,” Woodruff said.  

In his memory, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation continues to give to those causes that improve the lives of everyday people.