Issues in Progress
Provost Billy Frye and members of the Faculty Council spent the better part
of the group's Oct. 15 meeting in a quasi-brainstorming session geared toward
making the principles outlined in the 1994 document Choices & Responsibility
Frye told Council members that when the Board of Trustees adopted Choices
& Responsibility as Emory's values platform last winter, they also asked
Frye, President Bill Chace and the senior administration to write a strategic
plan that would make real the ideals set forth in Choices & Responsibility.
Frye came to the Faculty Council seeking faculty input on what strategies
should be incorporated into that strategic plan.
In opening the discussion, Frye cautioned Council members that the strategic
plan must be generic enough to have relevance for the entire University
community, yet broad enough so that no one feels excluded from it.
Much of the Council's discussion centered around Emory College and how the
College's situation speaks to the University as a whole. Several Council
members commented that the College has no unified, cohesive identity and
is seen as a loosely configured set of departments with isolated interests
"I think [the strategic plan] needs to say something about the mission
of Emory College within the University," said Faculty Council President
Luke Johnson. "We always hear that the arts and sciences are at the
heart of any great university, but there is a lack of a clear definition
of how Emory College is at the heart of the University and how its mission
is different from the professional schools. We need to do a better job of
explaining the educative and research profile of the arts and sciences."
Council member Linda Moneyham of the nursing school said the College's identity
quandary reflects a broader problem that exists throughout the University.
She said most of the faculty have expressed a desire for Emory to be a single,
unified University with a common purpose, but in reality Emory is a collection
of autonomous colleges and schools with no common mission. "I wonder
if defining the role and mission for the arts and sciences can be a starting
point for creating that kind of centrality throughout the University,"
Frye pointed out that the steps taken over the last 15-20 years to increase
the size of Emory College and strengthen it academically have not always
served to avoid the kind of fragmentation and insularity pointed out by
Paul Courtright of religion and Asian Studies agreed, saying that the College
has grown much more rapidly than the other schools in recent years, and
therefore has required more time to digest that growth.
David Pacini of the theology school said he believes the problem of a unified
identity is linked to a lack of an intellectual community at Emory, a problem
cited for some years by both faculty and students. Pacini said that while
countless events occur on campus that are open to the Emory community, there
are no single unifying events that "happen in a way that is relevant
to our self understanding."
Pacini cited the year-long Human Rights Symposium that occurred at Emory
in 1982-83 as an event that "energized the entire University. We need
to do thematic things like that to get us out of our own tiny bailiwick
and talking to each other," he said.
Virgil Brown of the medical school said he first came to Emory as a student
40 years ago, and that the College suffered then from the same problems
being wrestled with now. "The College was seen as a launching pad to
go somewhere else, either to another school or to one of the professional
schools at Emory," Brown said. "It has been viewed as a very functional
entity." Brown said some major restructuring will have to take place
before the College can become a "Davidson in the middle of a Berkeley."
President Bill Chace pointed out that Emory's situation is not radically
different from that of many other national universities, and the present
situation exists largely because academicians are behaving in very rational
ways, in ways that result in rewards under the current system. Chace asked
Council members to consider whether changing the faculty rewards and incentives
system might be the best way to get at the problems they've outlined.
Johnson asked Provost Frye to attend the Council's November meeting to continue
the current discussion and begin discussion of other topics to be addressed
in the strategic plan.
In addition, Johnson announced that a Faculty Town Hall Meeting has been
tentatively scheduled for Nov. 12 with the theme of "Research at Emory:
Possibilities and Projects."
to the October 21, 1996 contents page