Provost Billy Frye announced at the Council's Jan. 16 meeting his plans to establish a Commission on Teaching that will be "charged to examine the most critical issues that pertain to the quality of teaching at Emory and prepare a report that assesses the current state of teaching and the teaching environment at Emory."
Frye's action follows a November Faculty Town Hall meeting in which a number of faculty members expressed concern over the value placed on teaching and the validity and usefulness of current teaching evaluation methods. The Commission on Teaching will be chaired by Rebecca Chopp of the theology faculty and co-chaired by Walter Reed, chair of the English department.
The work of the Commission, Frye said, will begin with small group meetings of faculty and staff, similar to the process that took place two years ago and ultimately resulted in Frye's writing of "Choices and Responsibility." Frye asked Council members to play an equally active role in the forthcoming meetings as they played in the earlier ones.
A letter from Frye to the Emory community announcing the formation of the Commission on Teaching appears on Page 2.
The Faculty Council also heard a presentation from University Registrar Charles Nicolaysen on the ongoing development of an on-line student information system. Nicolaysen said the team working on the project expects to have a portion of it up and running by April 1. That first phase will allow students to access their own permanent University records and to update some types of information, such as changes of address. Nicolaysen said implementation of the next phase, which will allow faculty to access student records, will take longer because security issues are still being addressed. He said the project team is in the process of determining what kind of student information should be available to faculty (grades, class schedules) and what information should not be available to faculty (financial aid information).
Council President Richard Letz asked Nicolaysen and his team to include the Faculty Council on major decisions about what types of on-line student information will be made available to faculty.
Alice Miller, associate vice president for Human Resources, discussed a recent revision in the University's Workers Compensation policy at the Council's Jan. 17 meeting.
Miller said the revision provides more of an incentive for employees injured on the job who are able to and want to return to work to do so. The revision, she said, prohibits employees from receiving both a $275 per week Workers Compensation benefit and a portion of their regular salary. Rather, employees now must choose between the $275 per week or use sick leave to account for work time missed before short-term or long-term disability benefits take affect. Miller said that previously, some employees were receiving compensation equal to the amount of their regular salary, which provided no incentive for the employee to return to work.
Another problem Miller and her staff are addressing is the availability of light or modified duty for employees who want to return to work, but are restricted initially to light duty. Miller said she is working with Facilities Management to create more modified duty options so that employees will not be forced to stay out of work.
Several Council members expressed concern that the revised policy leaves employees injured on the job with two relatively unattractive choices: living on $275 a week during the time they are out of work, or losing accrued sick leave through a work-related injury that likely occurred through no fault of their own.
Miller said she believes the revised policy will better serve the majority of employees affected by it, because most of those employees want to return to work as soon as possible. She said the revised policy gives everyone involved in the process an incentive to get employees back on the job as soon as possible. Miller also said the University has secured the services of a physician to review all Workers Compensation cases to ensure that employees are receiving appropriate treatments from their doctors.
In other business, Council President-Elect Joy Burnette reported that Director of Athletics and Recreation Chuck Gordon has expressed support for the concept of allowing employees to pay P.E. Center fees through payroll deduction, but is uncertain whether such a program can be implemented. Burnette said Gordon, who is scheduled to address the Council's Special Issues Committee in February, is continuing to explore alternative payment options for employees.