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Student representation, conflict resolution and employee services explored

University Senate

Updates on wide-ranging committee work dominated the Sept. 23 meeting of the University Senate, which included standing committee reports, discussion about representation and a review of how senate bylaws are reviewed and revised.

A motion to approve this year's senate committee roster spurred a robust discussion about student representation on those committees. In response, University Senate President President Kathryn Yount, associate professor of global health, offered a review of the selection process.

After discussion, senate committee rosters were approved as presented. Yount also charged the Diversity Committee to develop guidelines for selecting representatives that could be used moving forward.

The following committee reports were also presented:

  • Transportation and Parking: Goals this year include increasing participation in commute alternative programs and ongoing assessment of parking allocation issues.
  • Honorary degrees: Following a recent call for nominations, a slate of potential candidates will be narrowed later this year. Final recommendations will be forwarded to the Board of Trustees next spring.
  • Athletics and Recreation: Emory's 2013-2014 athletic achievements were recognized, including national championships in women's swimming and diving and women's tennis and a runner-up finish for the national title for men's baseball. Ten Emory scholar-athletes were awarded NCAA post-grad scholarships — a record that ties Stanford for the most scholars in a single year. Goals include building community through athletic events, encouraging attendance, and exploring a possible reorganization of Emory athletics and recreation.
  • Diversity:  The committee is assembling best diversity practices for faculty and staff; defining what diversity means at Emory; compiling diversity data from across campus; creating an historical archive on campus diversity; and working with schools and units to address diversity concerns.
  • Library policy:  Priorities include tracking the evolution of search and retrieval systems, preparing for the future migration of materials to the Emory-Georgia Tech shared Library Service Center; Woodruff Library Tower/MARBL renovations; improving special collections access; and faculty services development across the library system.

President James Wagner led a conversation about higher education trends around principles of divestment, including how some universities are weighing in on issues of broad national interest by divesting from investments with companies engaged in controversial practices that reflect a standard of "moral evil."

Yount presented a history of how University Senate bylaws are reviewed and revised and proposed creating a group to help review current bylaws. The motion was approved.

Provost Claire Sterk highlighted recent university accomplishments, including ongoing work on Emory's global strategies, the new Global Services function that will soon be offered through Emory's Office of International Affairs, and recognition of the upcoming completion of the university's current strategic plan.

Faculty Council

Faculty Council Chair Kathryn Yount opened the Sept. 16 meeting of the Faculty Council with a discussion about opportunities to strengthen shared faculty governance in collaboration with Emory leadership.

Following approval of the Faculty Council roster and committee rosters, several committee reports were presented:

Faculty Hearing: A petition was presented last year concerning the elimination of some departments following the Emory College reorganization, but the presentation did not fall within the committee's jurisdictional standards.

Learning Outcomes Assessment: Following the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges reaccreditation process, the committee spent time reflecting on the overall experience and discussing both how learning outcomes might be assessed in the future and how to increase the efficiency of those assessments.

Faculty Life Course: Working with the Emeritus College, the committee has been exploring the idea of establishing a Faculty Club, a process that will continue this year.

Faculty Lecture: Frans de Waal, C.H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior, will be this year's distinguished faculty lecturer, scheduled to speak Feb. 3 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Winship Ballroom of Dobbs University Center.

In other business, Justin Remais, associate professor of environmental health, gave a presentation on the history of shared governance at Emory, leading conversation on issues such as if Emory's governing bodies are sufficient, if there are "gaps" where faculty voices are needed, how university governing bodies should be structured and the future of faculty governance.

President Wagner said that the administration invites that partnership, adding that he was eager to see some issues, such as promotion and tenure and faculty conflict resolution, move out of the central administration of the university.

The senate approved creation of a new governance task force to explore the issues.

In other business, Sheryl Heron, professor of emergency medicine, and Michael Sacks, associate professor of the practice of organization and management, led a discussion about creating a new process for faculty to address and resolve interpersonal conflicts and organizational challenges. The senate approved a motion to create a mission statement and explore conflict resolution models.

Provost Sterk discussed Emory's efforts to recruit dynamic new faculty and launch new programs, including the new neo-natal nurse practitioner program, a first in Georgia, at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff  School of Nursing; a new masters program in environmental sciences through the Laney Graduate School; and new undergraduate majors, such as qualitative social science and media studies, now offered through Emory College.

Noting that that the excellence of a university is determined by the excellence of its students and faculty, President Wagner acknowledged that Emory has had "a very good recruiting season," he said.

He spoke with pride about how the university responded recently to the care of Ebola patients and how their story was communicated. "Some of the things we are most proud of about Emory really came through," Wagner noted.

Wagner also acknowledged Emory's ongoing research achievements, from garnering national awards for pioneering medical treatments to the university's role in advancing an important new drug for treating hepatitis C.

Employee Council

The Employee Council kicked off its year Sept. 17 with presentations on diversity compliance for Emory's workforce and work-life services offered to employees.

Associate Vice Provost Lynell Cadray heads the Office of Equity and Inclusion, which ensures compliance with workplace inclusivity and non-discrimination practices.

Council President Anita Yarbrough said Cadray is the Employee Council's sponsor, facilitated by Lynn Magee, outreach coordinator and brand manager in Cadray's office.

Cadray reviewed her office's work ensuring compliance for Title IX equal opportunity in the search and hire process; overseeing educational training programs; conducting investigations related to discrimination and harassment in the workplace and ensuring compliance related to access for those with disabilities.

"We have around 100-plus people across the university working on Title IX," Cadray said.

In addition to assessing disability-related access and resources and working to prevent and eradicate sexual violence, Cadray's office is also working on a pilot online faculty hiring system.

"We serve [Emory] Healthcare, Oxford College and Emory's hospitals as well as the university," Cadray said. "We work in tandem with Human Resources, determining where an issue fits best. We provide goals, not mandates."

Del King, associate vice president of Human Resources, reiterated HR's relationship with Cadray's office. He also explained HR's organization and where to begin if a problem in the workplace arises. King reminded employees that all HR policies are on the HR website, including dates that note the latest revisions. 

Aaronnette Jackson, associate in Emory's WorkLife Resource Center, updated Council representatives on the center's latest plans and policies.

"Workplace flexibility is the main focus right now. It has a lot of momentum from a lot of interest across the campus," Jackson said. Options include flexible schedules, compressed workweeks, telecommuting, job sharing and reduced work schedules, among others, she said.

For proposals for workplace flexibility, Jackson said the WorkLife Resources Center is available for consultation and training and coaching for proposals.  A template agreement is on the webpage.

Jackson reviewed other work-life employee benefits including professional care management, which gives employees six hours of free consultation/services in a fiscal year related to care for elderly adults or special needs family members.

She also reminded employees seeking childcare to keep in mind the 175 centers in the Emory Child Care Network that give Emory employees cost discounts or priority registration or both. "These places won't necessarily bring up the discount when you visit or want to register so it's up to you to do that," she said.

The October meeting of the Employee Council will be a tour of the Center for Civil and Human Rights, which opened this summer in downtown Atlanta and has strong ties to Emory.

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