Great Expectations

Economic Challenges and the Art of Education

Geoffrey Broocker, Walthour DeLaperriere Professor of Ophthalmology


Emory's New President and the Idea of a University
Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching


Practical Matters
Rebecca Stone-Miller, Associate Professor of Art History and Faculty Curator

A Fresh Perspective for Perennial Problems
David Carr, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Philosophy

Teaching versus Research: Does It Have to Be That Way?
Lucas Carpenter, Charles Howard Candler Professor of English, Oxford College

Becoming a Top-Tier Research University
Lawrence W. Barsalou, Winship Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology, and Elaine Walker, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Ethics, Diversity, and Teaching
David B. Gowler, Pierce Professor of Religion, Oxford College

A More Positive University
Corey L.M. Keyes, Associate Professor of Sociology

Advice from the Lighter Side
Vicki Powers, Asssociate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science

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The foremost challenge to our new leader is predicting and preparing for the economic future of the university effectively, while maintaining damage control. In my fifteen years at Emory, the recent dilemma of restructuring the fringe benefits of the faculty and staff has created the greatest emotional duress (in essence, the faculty was frustrated and disappointed by their exclusion from the decision making process). Remaining committed to the highest educational standards may indeed require greater oversight across all branches of the institution.

While previous presidents have proven their effectiveness in new construction and gifts to endowments and operations, this president faces an altogether different task. A large, ongoing portion of our increasingly limited dollars must flow into teaching and teachers. The university demands excellence from our teachers. Yet the growing pressures on many of our key faculty, especially in the medical school, to constantly self-subsidize through, for example, volumes of patient care or continual grant production limits their availability and drive to be steadfast educators.

Even devoted faculty veer toward academic paths that evoke the greatest incentives and support. Great facilities and ambience do certainly attract quality students. Consistently strong outcomes in top job and professional school placement, however, come from the quality and effectiveness of the education and educators. The university president should focus on the strengths of our individual faculty and staff and reward each appropriately.

Currently, many academic centers have struggled and unfortunately succumbed to a corporate mentality to solve economic and personnel issues. Most of our faculty and staff are unimpressed with this approach, as the number of emailed and hardcopied petitions circulated throughout the university demonstrates. A great number of individuals in our ranks with other solutions need to be heard.

For instance, we have a number of outstanding schools within our system, but departments clearly do not interact frequently enough. Our leadership should not just insist on effective interaction; it should mandate and financially support these ventures. Even with significant collaboration in certain areas (such as the Center for Behavior Neuroscience and the biotechnology collaboration with Georgia Tech), there should be more interaction among faculty and departments to support existing programs.

A good example of this kind of interaction is Baylor University's use of its behavioral science department to create an "Office of Curriculum." The behavioral science faculty and fellows collate and measure student and faculty evaluations from across the university, providing more metric and less biased analyses. The law school and medical school could similarly work together in understanding and supporting risk management issues. Likewise, the ethics center should be more involved in curricula for law, medicine, and religion (among others).

In general, the corporate mentality tends to curtail workers' rights
as well as intellectual freedom, while maximizing profits. A significant number of medical faculty have left the university because of this approach. A particular area of corporate mentality that I feel has hurt the "essence" of Emory is the emphasis on media-based rankings of the college and graduate schools. While wrestling with "benchmarking" and "bean-counting" we've dropped our guard on quality and art of education and focused on undergraduate and graduate school national test scores as our measure of success.

To quote from Robert M. Rosenzweig's 2001 book The Political University: Policy, Politics, and Presidential Leadership in the American Research University, "Universities are mixtures of hierarchy and autonomy, competition and collegiality, individual entrepreneurship and collective effort, openness and secretiveness. Changes over the years had been in the direction of greater hierarchy, less collegiality, more entrepreneurship, less openness."

Preventing or limiting these changes should be the number-one priority of Emory University's new president.