Issues in Progress

President's Commission
on the Status of Minorities

How to measure the value of affirmative action in a university setting was one of several issues Commission members raised with Associate Vice President for Human Resources Alice Miller at the group's Jan. 27 meeting.

Commission member Pat Marsteller said that while Emory's record on hiring and promotion of minorities and women looks very strong for 1995-96, she wonders how the University can demonstrate that such diversity has "added value" for Emory. Marsteller said that being able to demonstrate that value is especially critical now that affirmative action is being challenged in the courts.

"I don't know how one would assess that," Miller responded. "I have not seen anything quantitative that addresses this issue." Miller said Emory's voluntary separation rate of 7 percent reflects a highly stable workforce, "which usually tells you that people are reasonably happy." The national average is 15 percent to 20 percent, she said.

Miller asked Commission members to share with her whatever methods they might discover for measuring the value of diversity on campus.

Marsteller also raised an issue regarding Tuition Reimbursement from a few years back: a proposal that Emory advance tuition money to low-income employees wishing to take courses at other colleges and universities. Under the current Tuition Reimbursement program, employees pay tuition up front and are reimbursed for most of the amount when they successfully complete courses.

Miller said that none of the 25 peer institutions surveyed by Human Resources offers tuition advances to staff. She also said the administration has no plans to adopt such a program. She added that Human Resources has assisted several low-income employees in identifying sources of funding to pay tuition for their initial college course and that the Division will continue to provide such assistance on a case-by-case basis.

For the near future, Miller said her office is continuing to work on finding a better way to generate employee performance feedback. While Miller said she does not necessarily want every unit to use exactly the same method for evaluating employees, she is committed to making evaluations as
equitable as possible across the units.

In other business, the Commission voted to extend the term of office for its chair and chair-elect from one year to two years. Commission Chair Bob Lee said the change will provide much-needed continuity of leadership between academic years. The Commission also elected David Patton of the law school as chair-elect for the remainder of this year and for 1997-98. Patton will become chair in the fall of 1998, when Lee's term expires.

The Commission also voted to change the name of its Travel Fund Committee to the Professional Development Fund Committee, to more closely reflect the purpose of the fund. The vote also made the fund available to students for the first time. It was already open to faculty and staff traveling to professional conferences and similar events.

University Senate

Bob Ethridge, associate vice president and director of Equal Opportunity Programs, attended the Senate's Jan. 28 meeting to remind senators of appropriate procedures for handling reports of sexual harassment.

Ethridge told Senate members that if any Emory community member brings to their attention an instance of alleged sexual harassment, the person receiving the information is obligated to report it to the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, even if the alleged victim shares the information in confidence. "Once you become aware of an incidence of sexual harassment, both you and the University become responsible," Ethridge said. He said that if an alleged victim waits a period of time before filing a formal complaint and reports that he or she told someone about it who did not report it, the University could be held liable for not taking action.

Regarding the issue of violating a confidence, Ethridge suggested immediately informing the alleged victim that Equal Opportunity Programs must be notified and that their complaint will be kept as confidential as possible.

Ethridge and his staff may be reached at 727-6016.

In other business, the Senate heard a presentation from the campus master planning firm, Ayers/Saint/Gross, on the planning process that has just began for Emory's physical facilities. Following that presentation, representatives from each of the Senate's standing committees gave reports on their reactions to the planning process and concerns they believe planners should take into account.

-Dan Treadaway

Return to February 3, 1997 Contents Page