Emory's Living Room
The case for a university faculty club

Eugene Bianchi, Emeritus Professor of Religion and Director, Emeritus College, and John Bugge, Professor of English

Vol. 8 No. 4
February/March 2006

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The Art and Science of Persuasion
Faculty, fundraising, and Emory's comprehensive campaign

The Development and University Relations Faculty Advisory Council

The Emory College Faculty Committee on Fundraising

"Faculty should know that this train is moving, and if there are suggestions or claims to be made or priorities to be established, this is the time to do it."

"Fundraising is an enormously long process, with hours devoted to stewardship."

Dangerous Ideas
The responsibilities of courageous inquiry

Emory's Living Room
The case for a university faculty club

A Day in the Life
Juggling family and academic science


It’s five o’clock in the afternoon in a large lounge with comfortable chairs and low tables. The carpet is blue and gold, the school’s colors, woven subtly into pleasant patterns. A varied selection of art hangs on the cream-colored walls, representing old and modern artists, as well as a few pieces drawn from the local community. Off to the side in a separate dining room, waiters are setting cloth-covered tables for dinner. Baroque music fills the background.

At a table in the lounge, University President Wagner is discussing plans for cooperation with Peking University with a few faculty and medical students. He is introducing two representatives from the Chinese school. A waiter has just set down glasses of red and white wine. At another table closer to the panoramic windows, three professors and two women’s study grad students are discussing a new project with the Women’s Center. All around the room, people are kicking back at the end of the school day, meeting colleagues from different parts of the university. Laughter and bonhomie fill the place.

In these rooms, faculty, researchers, and administrators from different schools and divisions have the opportunity to meet over food and drink and begin to efface the organizational and disciplinary boundaries that too often keep them feeling like strangers who happen to live and work on the same campus.

This is Emory University’s Faculty Club. Emory is on the threshold of achieving the status of one of the America’s premier research universities. At this moment, poised at the start of an ambitious capital campaign, the university should give serious consideration to establishing such a club, which would, over time, become both a tangible index of that status and, from the outset, an added means of securing that status permanently.

A university faculty club would become Emory’s living room, an inclusive and welcoming place that would encourage collegiality and communication across disciplines and divisions in an elegant but relaxed social setting. It would function as a crossroads, the site of productive intersection and interaction among faculty, administrators, researchers, students, alumni, and trustees. Intergenera-tionally, the club would foster both continuity and community by serving as the campus administrative address of the Emeritus College, providing the opportunity for retired but still active faculty to interact with administrators, regular faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students.

In addition to enhancing the cohesion of the university internally, a faculty club would also provide a place to entertain alumni, important friends and benefactors of the university, community leaders, visiting academics, and the increasing numbers of international guests drawn to Emory. It would promote increased connection with wider communities of interest and at the same time enhance the faculty’s standing in those communities.

The advantages a university faculty club would provide are many:

A centrally located dining facility with certain amenities, as well as a place for late-afternoon or early-evening socializing over food and beverages.

A meeting place that faculty and administrators would regard as their own, a kind of “faculty union” analogous to what students now enjoy with the Dobbs University Center.

Private meeting facilities, with rooms of various sizes adaptable to a number of different functions.

An on-campus venue where faculty and administrators, singly or as members of a unit or department, may entertain and offer hospitality in a setting that is neither an office, a classroom, nor a hallway.

A boost to morale for both faculty and administrators.

An effective recruiting tool, giving candidates a sense that they would be joining a university faculty and administration that valued community and showed its commitment to it in tangible ways.

A generous gesture of support for advanced graduate students, assuming they would be granted membership at a very nominal fee. Check below for variations on fees at different universities.

It is essential that a university faculty club be centrally located, indeed within walking distance for a majority of the faculty and administrators who work on the central campus. The following site, for example, would be ideal: currently identified only as “The Building Behind the B. Jones Building,” this hypothetical structure now part of the university’s master plan would make an ideal location for the club. This building would front on Oxford Road and might include a bookstore with a café at ground level, an all-purpose media room for the needs of Admissions and other units, and the faculty club on the top floor. An attached multi-story parking structure would provide easy access for visitors from the Atlanta community, while the building itself would be within easy walking distance of everyone on the campus west of Clifton Road and a quick shuttle-bus ride away for those east of Clifton.

University/faculty clubs at other universities

The following four universities, all somewhat similar to Emory, are samples taken from the ninety-six members of the Association of College and University Clubs.

Harvard: The director, Heinrich Lutjens, reports that Harvard’s club offers quality dining, meeting, conference functions, and lodging to a broad constituency, including Harvard faculty, alumni/ae, professional staff, long-service employees, members of the Cambridge business community, and their guests. The university provides the building and utilities. The club has the responsibility to recover its operating costs. While there are no dues for faculty, officers, and professional staff of the university, there is a fee structure for others. “The Harvard Faculty Club conveys a sense of style and good taste worthy of its affiliation with our university,” Lutjens says.

Princeton: The director, Syed Raza, says that Prospect House, centrally located on campus in the former home of Woodrow Wilson, makes a major contribution to the academic and social life of the university. Faculty and others in the community use the place. There is no membership fee for faculty and staff. The university provides the building and contributes $70,000 annually to its maintenance. The club does a $3 million annual retail business that covers its operating expenses. The club is open to varied events for the university and the wider community.

Stanford: Chuck Perry, director of the Stanford Faculty Club, says, “The purpose of the club is to further the educational purposes of the university by providing members with opportunities to become acquainted socially and to share intellectual and professional interests.” The club also provides space for food services and other accommodations for Stanford-related events, such as academic and administrative seminars and departmental presentations and lectures. A modest fee structure for all members brings in about $400,000 a year from a total membership of 2,100. The university funds the building; the club pays no rent to the university, but it pays all utility, maintenance, and repair costs. The club offers complimentary breakfast daily to its members and two guests. It has a pub with complimentary food for late afternoon. A “beautiful” lunch buffet is offered at twelve dollars as well as a la carte. They have a few guest rooms and private dining rooms. They bring in $200,000 in annual retail revenues.

University of Southern California: Ed Kasky, director, says that the mission of the USC University Club is to “provide good food and promote intellectual, cultural and social interaction at usc.” Membership fees are $240 dollars a year for faculty and exempt staff (fee is waived for the first year). “Whether it’s an informal lunch to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday, an elegant dinner to impress a potential donor, or a week long conference for sixty of your colleagues, we have what you need, ” he says. According to Kasky, their menus, from lunch-to-go boxes to fine dining, consistently receive campus-wise acclaim.

Focus Groups at Emory: Focus group luncheons will be held during the Spring 2006 semester to discuss these possibilities for Emory. The discussions will help the authors organize a campus-wide survey of opinion on the university club. They are looking for input representing diverse constituencies on campus. If you would like to attend one of these luncheons, contact Rhonda Dubin (712-8834 or rdubin2@emory.edu).