Governance meetings address highlights of last academic year, plans for future

By Kimber Williams and Maria M. Lameiras | Emory Report | Oct. 23, 2015

Emory University's governance groups — the Faculty Council, the Employee Council and the University Senate — discussed the following topics at their monthly meetings in September.

Faculty Council

Emory President James Wagner summarized Emory’s recent accomplishments, reviewed university strategic priorities, and outlined opportunities that lay ahead for the current academic year during the Sept. 15 Faculty Council meeting.

In a presentation shared in September with both the Council and the University Senate (see below), Wagner — who will step down from the presidency at the end of August 2016 — said that he took time this summer “to discern where Emory is and where it is going.”

Highlights of the past academic year included:

  • Emory’s leadership in caring for the first two patients in the Western Hemisphere to be treated for Ebola;
  • A record-breaking number of undergraduate admission applications;
  • Among the largest donations of gifts and pledges in one year outside an active fundraising campaign;
  • Growth in external research funding to $572.4 million, the largest in Emory’s history;
  • New hires in key campus leadership roles;
  • Ongoing construction and project completion of a variety of facilities, including the new WaterHub, Raoul Hall, the Atwood Chemistry Center addition and the Rose Library renovation, among others.

Opportunities for the current academic year included the following highlights:

  • Completion of the 2005 strategic plan and initiation of a new strategic planning process;
  • A new branding plan for Emory;
  • Key leadership hires, including executive vice presidents for healthcare administration and business administration and a vice president for government and community affairs;
  • Initiation of a new development campaign;
  • Choosing a new dean at Oxford College and creating Oxford Forward, a committee to consider what an Oxford education could look like.
  • Plans for construction of a new Campus Life Center and an outdoor pavilion;
  • A five-year financial plan for Emory Healthcare, along with a template for establishing credit independence.

Noting the number of times his presentation included mention of “firsts” and “records,” Wagner concluded that it had been “a great year” and one that “positions Emory well for the future.”

The remainder of the meeting was dominated by committee reports:

  • Distinguished Faculty Lecture: Bruce Levin, Samuel C. Dobbs Professor of Biology, has been selected to present the 2015-2016 Distinguished Faculty Lecture.
  • Faculty Counselors: Plans for interaction between faculty counselors and Emory trustees will continue this year with special faculty seminars.
  • Faculty Hearing: No cases were heard this year concerning issues of faculty discipline.
  • Faculty Peer Mediation: In May, 20 volunteers from Emory and Oxford College received training in mediation and conflict management. Another training session will be held in December; a website is currently under development.
  • Learning Outcomes: To help make the learning outcomes process more efficient and meaningful, the committee will report to the university every other year.
  • Life Course: Last year, work focused on mentorship; this year, the committee will also look at faculty climate surveys.
  • University Research: Faculty submitting proposals for short-term research awards may now include graduate students among expenses within proposals in their respective categorie

Employee Council

The Emory Employee Council met Sept. 16 for its first meeting of the fiscal year under new council president Linda Jackson.

In a presentation on sustainability initiatives, Peggy Barlett, Goodrich C. White Professor of Anthropology; and Demetrius Woods, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the School of Medicine, discussed engagement on campus to a zero waste culture.

Although some areas of campus are more committed to and engaged in the effort, Barlett said the Office of Sustainability Initiatives is working to support academic and operational units in carrying forward the change by expanding the network of sustainability champions to strengthen leadership at all levels of the university and using the Emory landscape, buildings and open areas to model sustainability choices.

Mary Ellen Nessmith, a work-life specialist with Human Resources, also spoke to the council about a new Emory care consultation program available to all Emory employees.  The new service helps employees who are coordinating the care of a spouse, adult child, adult sibling, parent or any older adult. It provides information about flexible work and leave options and connects employees to a nationwide referral service that can help provide information on eldercare or adult caregiving options.

Through the program, employees can receive up to six hours per year of free consultation with a professional care manager who can help them navigate conversations about long-term care plans, financial wellness, legal issues, retirement planning and creating a care team for dependent adults.

Jackson encouraged all employees to participate in upcoming service and volunteering opportunities including Emory’s upcoming Veterans Day ceremony at 10:55 a.m. on Nov. 11 on the Quad and Emory Cares International Service Day on Nov. 14.

University Senate

A campus climate survey conducted by the Prevention of Sexual Violence Committee and the topic of fringe benefits were among a wide-ranging series of committee reports discussed at the Sept. 22 University Senate meeting.

The meeting included a presentation by Emory President James Wagner, who reported on the university’s recent achievements, strategic priorities and future opportunities. (See above)

Among committee reports, a presentation on the status of the campus climate survey conducted among Emory students, faculty and staff earlier this year drew the most discussion.

Co-chair Jessica McDermott Sales, associate professor at Rollins School of Public Health, reported that the survey data is being analyzed. The committee is now working to make recommendations on how to build a prevention strategy based upon the survey findings, which will be shared later this semester.

In other reports, Fringe Benefits Committee Chair Sidney Stein, professor of hematology, said that a poll taken in April 2015 asking University Senate members to rank potential future benefits indicated the following priority rankings: (1) retirement plan auto-enrollment; (2) emergency back-up care for employees with a sick child or dependent; (3) six weeks paid parental leave for either spouse; (4) enhanced tuition reimbursement.

Highlights of remaining committee reports:

  • Campus Life: With the appointments of new Assistant Vice President of Community Suzanne Onorato, Athletic Director Michael Vienna, and Assistant Vice President of Counseling and Pychological Services Wanda Collins, the division is moving forward under a restructuring plan intended to better serve Emory students.
  • Diversity: The committee is pursuing three primary goals: connection, facilitation and amplification of the deepest levels of diversity at Emory.
  • Athletics and Recreation: Last year, five Emory student-athletes received NCAA post-graduate scholarships. Emory senior Andrew Wilson has been selected to train with the 2015-2016 U.S. Swimming National Team. The committee will be revising its mission statement and studying the possibility of dividing into two groups. Members also plan to work on increasing attendance at Emory athletic events.
  • Honorary Degrees: The Emory community is encouraged to submit nominations for conferral at Commencement 2017 by Nov. 1.
  • Transportation and Parking: The committee continues to study ways to improve commute options for Emory employees, as well as bike and pedestrian safety issues.
  • Campus Development: Goals include increasing familiarity with the main campus, supporting campus services, reporting on issues of concern, and providing suggestions for improvements.
  • Environment: The committee will continue its work with Campus Services and the Office of Sustainability.
  • Governance: Over the past year, the committee has reviewed Senate bylaws and made recommendations that were adopted by the Senate.

In other news, it was announced that Emory University Board of Trustees Chairman John Morgan will speak to the Senate in November to discuss the selection process for choosing President Wagner’s successor.