Diversity work, ECAS governance and Town Hall are governance groups' priorities

March 31, 2014

University Senate

Jaffar Khan, an associate professor of neurology and associate director of the Emory ALS Center, was appointed University Senate president-elect and Dell Jackson, an information technology support specialist in Emory School of Law, was elected secretary during the Senate’s March 25 meeting.

In other business, Robert Franklin, senior adviser for community and diversity to the provost, presented updates on various campus initiatives intended to foster a diverse, inclusive campus. Franklin says he is now drafting a report to summarize ongoing efforts, which he finds both hopeful and encouraging.

The Senate also approved a student-initiated diversity statement emphasizing the University’s prohibition of discrimination, which will appear on Emory course syllabi and related documents.

Following a Senate resolution passed last year, Vice President of Campus Services Matthew Early will now oversee maintenance of public artworks on campus. Early said he is completing an inventory to assess the condition of public art and will develop a multi-year maintenance plan.

In other business, the Senate heard presentations about the Emory Alumni Board and progress on the ongoing rollout of Research Administration Service Centers by the Business Practice Improvement Office.

Provost Claire Sterk announced that the two chief components of this month’s Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) reaccreditation visit — compliance and the Quality Enhancement Plan  — have been well received. Sterk also offered an update on the ongoing search for a new dean of the Goizueta Business School.

President James Wagner offered his thanks to those who contributed to the SACSCOC review process. In speaking with various groups around campus, Wagner has been gathering data on the kinds of things that Emory does well and areas that should be amplified. His plan is to create a list of actionable items to present at the April 16 Employee Council Town Hall.

Faculty Council

A proposal to restructure GovCom, the Emory College of Arts and Sciences (ECAS) faculty governance committee, was among a series of recommendations stemming from last year’s College reorganization plan that were shared at the March 18 Faculty Council meeting.

Kristin Wendland, senior music lecturer, and Jeffrey Staton, associate professor and Winship Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science, presented findings from two committees: the Process Review Committee (PRC), which was charged with examining the process of the college reorganization; and the Shared Governance Committee (SGC), which was charged with reviewing bylaws and coming up with a vision for restructuring the ECAS governance model.

The PRC found that although ECAS bylaws on reorganizing departments and programs were unclear, the ECAS deans did not violate any bylaws in their decisions to reduce and reallocate funds. The committee also noted a need to improve communication between ECAS and affected departments.

Committee recommendations included:

  • Re-examine college bylaws to establish a clearer procedure for the reorganization of departments and programs.
  • Join with University Senate/Faculty Council to clarify and strengthen the appeals process.
  • Improve avenues of communication.
  • Update the liberal arts vision for ECAS.

The SGC offered two recommendations, which are now the focus of active discussions within the College:

  • Establish a clear set of guidelines for the ongoing evaluation of programs and departments.
  • Change bylaws to provide for a representative College Senate, which might include six representatives from each division in the College.

In other business, the Council participated in an information gathering exercise with representatives of the Class and Labor 2 Committee and heard presentations about the Laney Graduate School and the Emory Bookstore.

Provost Claire Sterk reported that the March SACSCOC visit was going well. Sterk was pleased to share that “there has been tremendous excitement” about the “Nature of Evidence” Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and praised the role of faculty in refining and supporting the initiative.

In closing comments, President James Wagner acknowledged the work of Emory faculty in creating the Atlanta Science Festival, shared thoughts on how to advance a sense of shared governance on campus, and discussed federal funding issues that will top the agenda during an April trip to Washington, D.C.

Employee Council

President James W. Wagner came to the March 19 Employee Council meeting and asked the question: Why would you keep working at Emory if it were easier to go someplace else?

Council representatives' answers ranged from the people, the energy, the ability to make change and have input, the value set on health and wellness promotion, the research and discoveries, the sustainability work and the beauty of the campus.

"I think there's a way to be humbly proud," said Wagner. "It doesn't serve our graduates well when we don't let the world know what a great school they came from. We need to communicate that."

Wagner encouraged Council members to help make those reasons for working at Emory a topic for discussion at the upcoming Town Hall on April 16, at noon in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Auditorium, sponsored annually by the Employee Council.

Council President LaDonna Cherry said in addition to Wagner, Provost Claire Sterk, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs S. Wright Caughman and Executive Vice Provost of Finance and Administration Mike Mandl, a number of other division chiefs were expected to be there to answer questions specific to their areas of supervision.

These include Vice President for Human Resources Peter Barnes; Senior Director of Campus Dining Dave Fuhrman; Senior Vice Provost for Library Services & Digital Scholarship Rich Mendola; Vice President for Campus Services Matthew Early; and Associate Vice President of Transportation & Parking Lisa Underwood.

The Council is encouraging employees to submit questions in advance, using the Hot Topics button on the Council website. Microphones will be set up for audience members to ask questions at the Town Hall, which will be webcast live.

Other reports:

Food drive: The Council gave to the Atlanta Food Bank 534 pounds of food, which will create 445 meals. "Why just do it at Christmas?" Cherry asked, suggesting the Council consider collecting food as an ongoing project.

Employee Hardship Fund: Countess Hughes, Employee Council Hardship Fund coordinator, reported that the fund has a balance of $51,000, with a $2,500 inflow each month from payroll deduction. Hughes said priorities are making sure people know about it, including placing advertising on the shuttles, and creating more detailed and transparent answers to those whose applications are denied. Hughes said the guidelines for granting aid from the fund are based on definitions and rules of the Internal Revenue Service and that she is working with Work-Life Resource Center on the wording.