Upon Reflection

My job is to make sure that the academic focus of the institution is always front and center.

—Earl Lewis, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs


Vol. 7 No. 2
October/November 2004

Upon Reflection
University leadership urges a new "discipline" of planning

My job is to make sure that the academic focus of the institution is always front and center.
Earl Lewis, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

If we’re going to be rigid, operating in the nineteenth century and resisting change, then we’ll go the way of the Light Brigade.
Kenneth Thorpe, Woodruff Professor of Health Policy and Management

Phase to phase

Strategic Planning Steering Committee

To learn more

Scholarship in Time
Or, Sipping champagne from a fire hydrant
Bruce Knauft, Samuel C. Dobbs Professor of Anthropology
and Executive Director,
The Institute for Comparative and International Studies

Is the Bible Green?
Ancient Israelite and early Christian perspectives
on the natural world
Carol A. Newsom, Professor of Old Testament

Further reading

The Mind and the Machine
A Review of Digital People by Sidney Perkowitz
Darryl Neill, Professor of Psychology


Return to Contents


Academic Exchange: What is your understanding of the role faculty are playing in this process?

Earl Lewis: I think the faculty are playing roles at several levels. There’s faculty representation on the steering committee, and they are bringing their perspectives as faculty who can look at the entire campus from particular niches. They are asking, are there broad, cross-cutting themes and activities that can unite the university in exciting new ways?

It’s also happening at the school and college level. Each school and other units have been pulling together faculty and asking, What do you want to do? What are the themes that would drive you? How do we get better? I have seen reports that have been generated not by the deans alone but by deans in partnership with their faculty. That piece is exciting for us.

The third way it’s happening is with faculty involvement in these task forces on cross-cutting themes that have already started to emerge. Internationalization was the first one out of the chute, but there will be others as well, and a lot of that will have to be faculty-driven.

AE: Are you seeing some chief areas of focus emerging?

EL: With the environmental scans, we have gotten at some structural issues: we need more space, we need more faculty, we need more money, and so forth. We now have the foundation in place. Now we need to start assembling some of the scaffolding to put the frame on the building. We do that by asking, What are the intellectual drivers that are going to make this a place that faculty, students, and staff all want be a part of? We’ve begun to see some of this. Clearly internationalization is there; community and diversity show up in different kinds of ways—is that something that will allow Emory to claim some distinction? A whole range of policy issues—public policy, health policy—has begun to surface. Do we create something that deals with international or domestic
policy in one form or another? We’re sorting those things out, winnowing the list down to something manageable.

AE: In the environmental assessments, health care stands next to scholarship, research, teaching, and service as a major area of categorical assessment. Is healthcare expected to become central to the mission of every unit of the university?

EL: If we’re thinking about healthcare and delivery systems there is the possibility for broad-ranging academic content. Look at literature and the subfield of disability studies, for example. Literature has an element of healthcare in it that has never actually been brought out. What would happen if all of a sudden we created a new curriculum on health in the aging population? Could we do it in such a way that you had English professors teaching in public health?

And there is the business side of health care. Whether the federal government gets around to it or not, healthcare costs are growing at a rate that’s pushing more and more people to be responsible for a larger share of their healthcare dollars. What was the number I heard the other day? That 44 million Americans are uninsured—a total of the populations of 24 states. Could we train a cohort of college students who will think about these questions?

AE: I think that question partly comes out from a concern that Emory is going to become “Hopkins-ized”—or dominated by the health sciences.

EL: My goal was not to come here and make Emory into Hopkins. And I will say that Mike Johns doesn’t have any desire to make Emory into Hopkins. He understands the institutions are very distinctive. One of the things I think we all will have to do is ask questions of one another if we have those concerns. For those who are worried about it, let’s talk about it: are there features of Hopkins that are worth replicating? I think Mike would say in certain areas of the health sciences that absolutely is the case. Are there parts of Hopkins that we would never want at Emory? Yes, absolutely.

I suspect part of what’s going on is the relative momentum of the health sciences compared to other parts of the campus over the last ten years or so. That part of campus is moving at a faster pace, when you look at the number of research dollars that are brought in, the growth of new buildings. It magnifies the sense that this place is becoming more like Hopkins. I haven’t seen it, but I’m mindful of it. I also come from a place that had a huge medical complex with two billion dollars in reserves in their health system, which drove the difference between health and the academic side of the institution. But with the right leadership in place, it won’t happen in a way that people fear. My job is to make sure that the academic focus of the institution is always front and center And I know I have a real partner in Mike Johns; we both want the final plan to help produce a great, great university.