Faculty Council wrestles with issues
of citizenship, intellectual community

As they did in their most recent meeting last fall, Faculty Council members at their Jan. 21 meeting again raised concerns about how the lack of a distinct identity for Emory's arts and sciences divisions discourages faculty across the University from feeling a sense of citizenship within Emory as a whole.

Provost Billy Frye, who has attended the last several Council meetings to get faculty input on a University strategic plan that he is helping to prepare, asked Council members to discuss the socio-political elements needed to support a "first-class academic community" during the group's four-hour extended meeting. Frye said he believes that some of the feelings faculty have about University citizenship are rooted deep in Emory's history.

"Emory College was put in place as a section of the doughnut, unlike Harvard and Yale," Frye said. "We also must remember that the College was starved for years. It's only been in the past 15 years or so that the College has been considered reputable in terms of being part of a prominent research institution." When the Atlanta campus opened in 1915, Frye said, the first units to be located here were the Candler School of Theology and the School of Medicine.

Filling the
doughnut hole
Echoing the metaphor for Emory shared by Council member Terry Clark, Frye said the College was not established on campus as the foundation of the academic community upon which all other academic units are built. Rather, the College was founded in the context of a "doughnut mindset," in which it was merely one of several, largely independent units with no particular relationship to the other units.

While acknowledging the importance of historical factors, several Council members also offered other explanations for the lack of a sense of University citizenship among faculty. "There is no new faculty orientation at the University level," said Linda Moneyham. "In all the universities I've been associated with, that was where I had my initial meetings with faculty from other schools, which was how those relationships began. It also forced the university to develop information packets for central functions such as information technology. Citizenship here is primarily felt for a college or school, not to Emory. That's why it's important to set the right tone from the beginning and make sure new faculty meet the people they need to meet. That's not getting done now."

Winfield Sale said that while the concept of a Faculty Club offers some promise of addressing the citizenship problem, he also said that such a facility must be centrally located and be open to students in order to foster a true community of scholars that crosses disciplinary lines. "If the club is established off campus and doesn't include students, then what's the point of having it?" he said.

Council President Luke Johnson said that all the information that both new and existing faculty need to succeed at Emory is "out there somewhere." The problem is that so much information is failing to make its way from deans and department chairs to faculty members. Johnson said this problem, particularly in the College and medical school, has much to do with the large size of the faculty and the difficulty of communicating with such large groups face to face.

Johnson cited the need for new faculty governance structures in which to invest decision making, particularly in the College, where most faculty feel affiliations only with their departments.

"Academics are conditioned for certain behaviors to achieve success," Johnson said. "We are not socializing in a way that will lead to an appreciation of University citizenship. In recruitment and hiring of new faculty, some emphasis on a sense of citizenship must be required in order for things to change."

Strengthening intellectual community
Another issue Frye asked faculty to address in the meeting was working toward an "integrated scholarly community that will give emphasis to the promotion of a strong intellectual ethos, unimpeded communication and collaboration and, above all, a supportive mentoring relationship among students, faculty and staff."

Paul Courtright cited the practice of co-teaching, or team teaching, as an excellent way of achieving such goals. Courtright said that while co-teaching is not actively discouraged at Emory, it is "a big gray area" for most faculty. Areas of difficulty include whether both faculty members receive credit for teaching the course and whether faculty who co-teach will lose other courses they wish to continue teaching.

Council President-elect Bill Cody said that co-teaching has done wonders for promoting mentoring and collegiality at Oxford College, where he teaches political science. Cody also said the practice of giving credit for co-taught courses to only one faculty members has the effect of discouraging co-teaching. He said a number of Oxford faculty co-teach on a purely voluntary basis.

Nanette Wenger said that when it comes to co-teaching between faculty members from different schools, "credit is absolutely the barrier. Why can't you get credit for teaching half a course? A sense of community is reinforced when faculty bring their disciplines to a particular topic."

Several members cited the value of co-teaching as a way to establish and sustain mentoring relationships between junior and senior faculty. David Pacini identified the tenure and promotion process as another area where mentoring is badly needed. Pacini characterized the current way of conducting promotion meetings as a "shoot-out at the O.K. Corral." He suggested a system in which "senior faculty sit down with junior faculty a year in advance of that meeting and identify things that need to be worked on." Pacini said such a system would represent a shift from an entrepreneurial approach to achieving academic success to a "collective sense of responsibility" for the success of junior faculty.

Several faculty members said that some form of Pacini's idea is being practiced in several academic units, but the current environment attaches no official value to the act of serving as such a mentor.

How much value is attached to which faculty activities, Johnson said, is not school driven, but driven by the academic guilds. Johnson said that current dissertation candidates have published far more material than their counterparts of 10 years ago. "But [the published work] is raw," he said. "They're often not mature." Johnson suggested a system in which faculty would be asked to produce a significant monograph "instead of 18 toss-off papers."

President Bill Chace, who attended a portion of the meeting, said that while Emory cannot ignore the realities imposed by the rest of American higher education, there are things that Emory can do to counter the increasing pressures placed on faculty working toward tenure. Chace mentioned the possibility of extending the length of time for tenure consideration from six years to eight or nine years.

Another idea for which Chace expressed support is studying the creation of a residential college at Emory where faculty would live in residence halls with students and play a significant role in their lives outside the classroom. Randall Strahan raised the issue of a residential college as a way of creating a stronger intellectual community where faculty and students are not isolated from each other and have significant interaction outside the confines of the classroom.

Future discussions
The issues the Council has discussed with Frye this year represent the major topics identified in Choices & Responsibility. The only topic not yet discussed by the Council is Emory's external relationships. Johnson said that one hour will be allocated for that discussion at the Feb. 18 Council meeting.

-Dan Treadaway

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