College faculty votes against no-confidence motion; Trustees issue statement of support for President Wagner

Emory Report | April 12, 2013

By a vote of 201 to 133, the faculty of the Emory College of Arts and Sciences has voted against a motion of no confidence in President James W. Wagner. Sixty-three percent of 530 eligible full-time faculty in the College participated in the electronic balloting, which began Monday and continued through 8 p.m. this evening.

Results were announced by Stefan Lutz, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the College’s Governance Committee. 

Emory College is one of nine schools at Emory. Its faculty constitute about 20 percent of nearly 3,000 faculty in the University. The College is the only school in which a faculty vote of no-confidence has been held. Votes of no-confidence represent expressions of opinion; the results are non-binding.

Board Chair Ben F. Johnson III issued a statement on behalf of the Board of Trustees saying that “The Emory University Board of Trustees extends its strong and undivided support to President James W. Wagner.”

“The Board respects and gives serious consideration to the views expressed by the University’s faculty, including those of the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and indeed, to the views of all members of the Emory community,” the statement continued. “Regarding the matter of his column in Emory Magazine, we would note that President Wagner quickly apologized for his lack of understanding and the hurt he had caused by not communicating more clearly his beliefs that slavery was repugnant and inhuman and that the substance of the compromise was repulsive.

“In assessing the totality of President Wagner’s accomplishments and leadership, the Board believes he remains extraordinarily well suited to maintain Emory University’s forward momentum. During the past decade, Emory has enjoyed steady growth and improvement in virtually every vital dimension of a research university’s activity––faculty recognition, student selectivity, sponsored research, and philanthropic support.

“Emory’s growth has been guided by the University’s 2005-2015 strategic plan, committed to strengthening the university community and to pursuing scholarly initiatives in a number of areas including race and difference, religions and the human spirit, and global health. Through his leadership, the recently concluded seven-year Campaign Emory raised more than $1.69 billion, with Emory faculty and staff contributing more than $108.5 million.

“President Wagner continues to meet with faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends of the University to ensure Emory’s commitment to distinction and diversity. The trustees look forward to working with President Wagner and all members of the Emory community with renewed commitment to our shared values and to addressing the novel opportunities as well as challenges facing Emory and all of higher education." 

Wagner said: “I respect the views of all of our faculty and their right to express concern about the leadership and direction of our institution, and I take to heart the significance of this vote. Faculty governance and faculty responsibility for the future of Emory University are essential.  I will continue to work with my colleagues in the administration and with the faculty to carry out the mission of this great institution.”

He continued, “I have listened closely to constituents from across the university, and I look forward to sharing what I have learned and to working with all members of our community to move Emory forward. Together we have accomplished much, and in partnership with all of our community members, Emory will do much more.”