As the new president of the Employee Council, I am thankful for this opportunity to address the Emory community. In one role or another, I have been a part of this community my whole life, and it is in this context that I hope to convey my pride in the University and my optimism for the coming year.
I grew up in Oxford, where my father has served as a member of the faculty at the "mother campus" for 30 years and where daycare for me often meant entertaining myself under his classroom desk. My parents created a home for us in one of the town's oldest houses, built in the 1840s on a lot adjacent to the place where the cottage in which Emory's first classes were conducted once stood. My sister and I represent the fourth generation of our family to have attended Emory, both of us recipients of courtesy scholarships.
Now as a staff member at The Carter Center, I am engaged in efforts to strengthen the relationship between the two institutions for faculty, staff and-through the Center's internship program-students. Emory is an inextricable part of my heritage, and I make no claim to a lack of bias. The University has given me a great deal.
Since its inception in the early 1970s, the Employee Council has served as a channel through which the staff of the University can voice their concerns and ideas for a better institution. It is a group that has evolved, building on the good works of each year's administration. The council includes members from every department and division, richly diverse and collectively representative. And while we do not make policy, the governing body of the University recognizes the Employee Council as an important resource and participant in Emory affairs.
I encourage all of you to read Choices & Responsibility: Shaping Emory's Future, a series of essays on the life and goals of the University written and compiled by Provost Billy Frye, as the culmination of extensive discussions conducted by representatives from all parts of the community. Building a greater sense of community at Emory is a major focal point for most groups here, including the Employee Council.
Of special concern to me is strengthening the relationship between the main campus and its branch divisions-Oxford College, The Carter Center, Grady, Crawford Long and others. We are a large and widespread community. It is easy to lose sight of what happens on Emory's periphery, even though some of our most far-reaching influence emanates from there. It is my hope and goal that during this next year the Employee Council will sponsor several events and initiatives to shrink the relational gap between our geographically separate divisions. Coincidentally, both I and Dr. Bill Cody of Oxford College, the incoming president of the University Senate, are from off-campus branches.
As the son of a faculty member, a former student and now a staff member, I'd like to think that I have a perspective from each kind of university constituency. Whether the role is to teach and govern, to learn or to support, I recognize that each is absolutely necessary to the life of a university. Take away any one sphere, and an institution cannot function. All of us, therefore, have legitimate claim to a voice in campus affairs, and we are fortunate to have representative groups for each of these constituencies.
To the staff, I encourage you to follow the work of the Employee Council and engage us during this next year. Members are given leave to participate and volunteer our time in order to give you a voice. In keeping with the University's call to reduce the use of paper, we have established an e-mail address that you may use to send us your concerns and ideas. That address is <email@example.com>, and my own address is <eoliver@ emory.edu>. You will find us receptive and genuinely attentive.
Erik Oliver is assistant education coordinator at The Carter Center.
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