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University governance roundup
Trends in higher education, ECAS changes, diversity dominate agendas

University Senate

Rich Mendola, interim vice provost and director of Emory libraries, discussed plans to address storage needs stemming from the growth of acquisitions at the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) during the Oct. 30 University Senate meeting.

Although MARBL currently has an offsite storage facility that houses close to a million volumes, he said it is already 95 percent full. "As we acquire new materials, we're running out of space," he said.

Mendola outlined a proposal to address MARBL's expanding collections, which would include:

  • Building a dedicated, expandable offsite storage facility in partnership with Georgia Tech;

  • Converting top floors of the Woodruff Library stack tower into a permanent home for MARBL;

  • Expanding the library onto the outer plaza area around the stack tower.

Emory Student Government Association President Ashish Gandhi addressed the recent restructuring in Emory College of Arts and Science and Laney Graduate School. Concerns included a perceived lack of student input and uncertainties around what message program reductions may send to the external community.

Gandhi recommended releasing a statement affirming that the decisions "were in no way a result of the academic excellence — or lack thereof — of our students and of our faculty, but rather were broader issues."

In his final University Senate meeting before leaving to become president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Provost Earl Lewis spoke about higher education trends, including a changing business model, evolving definitions of faculty and tenure, diversity issues, and an increased need for partnerships and community connection.

In closing, Lewis noted that it had been a "pleasure and delight" to serve as Emory's provost, adding that "I know whoever succeeds me in this role will have as much fun as I did — and I say that sincerely."

Faculty Council

At the Faculty Council meeting on Oct. 16, Provost Earl Lewis was invited to address issues that face American higher education and identify where Emory fits into that picture.

Lewis forecasted future macro-trends, including:

  • Maintaining value and lowering costs with constrained resources.

  • The questionable durability of tenure; long-term contracts may mean less tenure-track faculty.

  • The rise of new educational delivery systems.

  • More racially diverse student demographics.

  • Collaborations with other institutions.

  • Increased need for philanthropy.

  • Importance of engagement with greater Atlanta.

In other business, David Wynes, vice president of research administration, discussed a need to recruit more faculty to serve on research review committees.

At the invitation of Faculty Council President Gray Crouse, five Faculty Council members spoke about recent changes announced in Emory College of Arts and Sciences and Laney Graduate School. Speakers included Elena Pesavento, associate professor and chair of the Department of Economics; Pamela Scully, professor and chair of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies and professor of African Studies; Kristin Wendland, senior lecturer in the Department of Music; Matthew Bernstein, professor and chair of Film and Media Studies; and Jeffrey Staton, associate professor and Winship Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science and director of graduate admissions and placement in the Department of Political Science.

Though the speakers indicated the ECAS/LGS changes had drawn feedback both critical and supportive, they raised questions about issues including faculty involvement in governance decisions; the status and future of the humanities; requests for more open communications; questions about the impact of financial aid; and an interest in hearing more from the University's president and provost.

In his own remarks at the meeting, President James W. Wagner said he would like time at a future meeting to continue a discussion around "opportunities for faculty governance that the [President's] Cabinet is eager to help lead and fuel," adding that increased faculty leadership is among the top priorities that the Cabinet has outlined for the year.

Employee Council

Ozzie Harris, Senior Vice Provost for Community and Diversity at Emory University, updated the Employee Council on the status of the new Advisory Council on Community and Diversity at the Oct. 25 meeting.

The first annual review of diversity in all units of the University by the council will happen next October, Harris said. "Since May, we've begun to implement the infrastructure of the council," he said, noting that the structure will provide more consistent work on tracking diversity and responding to related issues.

The new council also expands work and response into more areas of diversity on campus, he added, noting that the three groups the new council replaced — the President's Commissions on Race and Equality, Status of Women and Sexuality, Gender Diversity, and Queer Equality — didn't include other facets of diversity such as religion, disability, class, "lots of things we could have commissions on."

Harris wondered "how can we improve Employee Council's voice?" He touched on the need for better communication and a look at revamping the council and where it fits into university governance.

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