Employee Town Hall serves up information, entertainment

By Leslie King | Emory Report | April 18, 2017

Employees gather at the 2017 Employee Council Town Hall.
President Claire E. Sterk poses for photos at the 2017 Employee Council Town Hall.
Employees gather at the 2017 Employee Council Town Hall.
Employees gather at the 2017 Employee Council Town Hall.
Employees gather at the 2017 Employee Council Town Hall.
Employees gather at the 2017 Employee Council Town Hall.
President Claire E. Sterk poses for photos at the 2017 Employee Council Town Hall.
President Claire E. Sterk poses for photos at the 2017 Employee Council Town Hall.
Musicians perform at the 2017 Employee Council Town Hall.
Employees gather at the 2017 Employee Council Town Hall.
Employees gather at the 2017 Employee Council Town Hall.
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At this year's Employee Council Town Hall, Emory staff members enjoyed a buffet meal and musical performances, with remarks from President Claire E. Sterk and time to talk informally with Sterk and several members of the President's Leadership Council.

President Claire E. Sterk and members of her senior leadership team mixed and mingled with Emory staff members at this year’s Employee Council Town Hall, held Wednesday, April 12, at the Campus Life Pavilion.

For the first time, the annual Town Hall was structured as an opportunity for leaders and employees to talk informally, rather than a traditional forum with a question-and-answer session.

With the new format, "we wanted to be bold," Employee Council President Marlon Gibson told attendees.

Sterk praised the change as facilitating “a very exciting opportunity to talk to each other.”

Following entertainment from a student a cappella group and a string quartet, Sterk gave brief remarks. Attendees then had an opportunity to talk casually over a buffet lunch.

Members of the President's Leadership Council in attendance included:

  • Stuart Zola, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs;
  • Peter Barnes, interim executive vice president for finance and business administration; Susan Cruse, senior vice president for development and alumni relations;
  • Vince Dollard, interim senior vice president of communications and public affairs;
  • Jonathan Lewin, executive vice president for health affairs;
  • Ajay Nair, senior vice president and dean of Campus Life;
  • Stephen Sencer, vice president and general counsel.

Addressing the gathering, Sterk said she is asked most about two major topics: Emory’s next steps for its strategic planning and vision, and the filling of key positions at the university.

Recounting sessions held over the past 18 months asking what people would like to see Emory do, she listed several areas of focus:

  • Academic excellence: “It’s about people — students are at the core of what we stand for," Sterk said, noting, however, that “Emory couldn’t be what it is if not for the staff and all you do.” Working on academic excellence “is an opportunity to enhance what Emory offers,” she said.
  • Deeper engagement with metro Atlanta: “Emory is known as a hidden gem, and we have not always embraced opportunities as fully as we could," Sterk said, emphasizing the need to approach area organizations and initiatives humbly, “finding out what they need and how we can help.”
  • Breaking down silos across Emory: "Sometimes it seems that Emory Healthcare is separate from the university, but that is not the case," Sterk said. "Across the Emory community, there is a lot of talent and a lot of desire where people want to work together."

As Emory develops its next strategic plan, “we need to be nimble and smart; we need to have flexibility," the president stated.

Sterk also gave an update on the searches to fill key positions in the university. She said an announcement is expected soon on the final candidate for executive vice president for finance and business administration.

The search for a new provost has been narrowed to two finalists, and search committees are closing in on the finalists for deans of the School of Medicine and Emory College of Arts and Sciences, she said.

After the event, Gibson said he believes the new format proved successful. 

"I loved seeing everyone interacting in such a positive manner," he said.