University governance roundup: Academic year opens with themes of change and challenge

By Kimber Williams and Leslie King | Emory Report | Sep. 27, 2012

University Senate

The University Senate approved a resolution during its Sept. 25 meeting to expand the role, responsibilities and membership of the Task Force on Dissent, Protest and Community, effectively creating a "Stage II Task Force."  

Co-chaired by Ajay Nair, senior vice president and dean of Campus Life, and Frank Alexander, Sam Nunn Professor of Law, the task force will now include a broader range of University constituencies and is charged with examining policies that address dissent and protest with the goal of making recommendations or revisions by spring 2013.

"Our bottom line conviction is that dissent and protest is essential to the life of community," Alexander said. "We need to find a way to honor it, permit it, engage in it, and still affirm dignity and integrity and boundaries at all times."

In other business, the Senate heard an update from Bill Dracos, associate vice president for administration and chief business practice improvement officer, and Kimberly Hyde, director for business practice improvement, on efforts to transform research administration at Emory.

President James W. Wagner outlined priorities for the academic year, which include strengthening Emory College, exploring new markets for resource growth, considering e-education opportunities, responding creatively to financial challenges, exploring partnerships with other institutions, and refining Emory’s global strategy.

Wagner also stated his strong support for recent changes announced by Emory College and Laney Graduate School, adding that the University "has an imperative to move ahead in a period when we know we will have fixed or very, very little revenue growth" with a process of reallocation in areas of need, strength and future potential.

"Defining those areas is the respective deans’ responsibility and prerogative. We need only essentially to trust — and I do trust — the processes that Dean (Robin) Forman and Dean (Lisa) Tedesco put in place. We’re not going to second-guess the academic priorities identified through that process."

But with those changes, Wagner cautioned that "we need to be especially careful also to treat with respect and with compassion those whose jobs and beloved programs are being affected."

Provost Earl Lewis closed by identifying ongoing work in the coming year, including searches under way for several deans, preparations for SACs reaccreditation, and an upcoming celebration of the strategic plan.

Faculty Council

Faculty Council Chair Gray Crouse opened the Sept. 18 meeting by inviting members to consider themes of shared responsibility, engaged governance and integrity during the new academic year, as the council focuses on "the future of Emory as a private research university."

Acknowledging that the University has gone through a "challenging period," Crouse urged faculty involvement: "If there are changes that are going to be happening, we as faculty need to be involved in conversations rather than standing on the sidelines."

Crouse also announced his intent to form a policy committee to consider "issues of sufficient complexity and importance" that can’t be handled during the time constraints of regular meetings.

In other business, Lisa Macklin, director of Emory Libraries IP Rights Office, presented an update on Open Emory, now available to members of the Emory community. This marks the pilot year for the project, which allows immediate, unfettered access to online research.

This fall, Macklin urges faculty members to become "early adopters" by updating their profiles, submitting articles and providing feedback on the system. A bigger rollout of the project is planned later at Oxford College.

Following committee reports, Provost Earl Lewis discussed issues for the new academic year, including a report expected this semester from the Committee on Class and Labor and an exploration of new digital options for education, and ongoing questions around tenure and promotion.

President James W. Wagner concluded by sharing priorities that his cabinet has adopted for the new academic year, which include empowering faculty engagement and responsibility, responding creatively to the fiscal realities in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, capitalizing on Emory’s literary assets, and enhancing the student experience.

Employee Council

Major changes for the Employee Council Town Hall were announced by President Kathy Troyer at the Employee Council's first meeting Sept. 19.

The annual town hall, held in the spring, in which top University administrators address issues and answer questions from the University community, will be presented this year in conjunction with the newly-constituted Diversity Advisory Council led by Senior Vice Provost for Community and Diversity Ozzie Harris.

Council representatives also heard a presentation from Theresa Milazzo, associate vice president of human resources, on significant changes to the health care benefit plan, changes that will be communicated university-wide beginning in early October.

Milazzo highlighted the plan choices of two instead of three; wellness incentives in both plans; a new name for prescription fulfillment service; and new coverages driven by the federal health care law. Milazzo urged council members to use the health plan comparison tool on the website to compare rates and benefits.

Candler School of Theology Dean Jan Love gave an overview of the search for the next provost to succeed Earl Lewis who will be leaving to become president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Lynell Cadray, assistant dean of admissions and student services in the School of Nursing, took comments from the council members about qualities they would like emphasized in the search for the new provost.

Love heads the search committee and Cadray and Student Government Association President Ashish Gandhi, who recorded the comments, serve on the committee. Love noted that between 150 and 160 people, both inside and outside the University, have applied or been nominated for the post.