Keeping pace with the rapidly expanding field of information technology has posed a challenge for nearly all universities and colleges for years. Vice Provost for Information Technology Jim Johnson, who updated the Faculty Council on campus technology issues at the group's April 9 meeting, said that while Emory still faces many challenges in the technology arena, the University is essentially in good shape compared to its peers.
The most striking difference between today's campus technology environment compared to a decade ago, Johnson said, is that, "What happens with information technology is increasingly a community issue. It wasn't 10 years ago." He said the entire community needs to set the technology standards that will take Emory into the 21st century, and that task should not be left to technicians in the Information Technology Division (ITD) to do alone.
The level of technological sophistication of Emory students, Johnson said, has skyrocketed in just the past four or five years. "The seniors need help just doing on-line drop/add for the courses," he said. "One of the first things the freshmen want to know is where their internet connection is."
Johnson said he has offered several recommendations to address future information technology needs at Emory:
*Completing the campus computer network and connecting everyone on campus. He said that ITD will be working to connect off-campus faculty, staff and students during the next year.
*Creating an Information Resources Council to determine technology entitlement issues. Johnson said this will allow the University to establish a "ground-level" standard for the level of technology Emory will provide to each community member, providing equity across departments and divisions.
*Adopting a "federal" model for placing new technology on campus, which would allow individual units a measure of autonomy and flexibility, while preserving baseline, University-wide standards.
*Coalescing a number of teaching-related activities with which ITD is involved under the newly formed Commission on Teaching. This would allow the Commission to take a more comprehensive approach to assessing the relationship between teaching and technology, and the technology needed to support teaching.
Melanie Kingston, administrator of the Council's University Research Committee (URC), presented the committee's annual report. The URC provides funds to Emory faculty to help establish their research projects at the University.
Kingston said that a $30,000 budget increase over last year allowed the committee to award two more grants than it did last year. Despite that gain, Kingston said, the committee funded 41 regular proposals last year and left unfunded 56 proposals that it deemed meritorious, a much larger number than usual. Kingston attributed this to a rise in the total number of applications this year.
The URC, Kingston said, also is considering making its summer awards available to all faculty. Currently, only untenured junior faculty are eligible for summer awards, while all faculty are eligible for regular URC awards. Kingston said a shortage in summer applications prompted the URC to consider the change.
Rich Freer, chair of the Faculty Relations Committee, said that no faculty members have appealed employment suspension or termination decisions to the committee so far this year.
Issues surrounding tenure for women faculty will likely be an area of concern for the Commission next year, according to Chair Sheila Cavanagh.
At the Commission's April 4 meeting, Cavanagh and several Commission members expressed concern over recent tenure denials for women faculty in the professional schools. Cavanagh said there is currently no method of checking for patterns of gender or racial bias in college and school tenure actions. She said that President Bill Chace was surprised to learn about the absence of such a mechanism and plans to address the issue with his staff.
In other business, Barbara Ladd of the English faculty was elected chair-elect for 1996-97, and Deborah Floyd of the law school was elected secretary.
The Commission's Outreach Committee announced at the April 8 meeting that a Town Hall Meeting on Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual issues will be held Tuesday, April 16, from 4-5 p.m. in 355 Dobbs Center. The event is open to the Emory community.
Kevin Gelé, academic services coordinator in the anesthesiology department, was elected co-chair. Gelé, who will replace Co-Chair Bill Baird of the Oxford College physics faculty, will begin serving his term in the fall with current Co-Chair Ami Mattison, a graduate student.