September 7 , 1999
Volume 52, No. 3
President Ann Rouse brings Employee Council into step
Ann Rouse is an Atlanta native and lives in Newnan, just a stretch down I-85, but the neighborhood of her childhood no longer exists. Hartsfield International Airport's south terminal now occupies the ground of Rouse's upbringing.
"Everything I knew as a child is gone-the high school, all of our hangouts, the elementary school-everything is gone," she said. "It's kind of sad. You know, you've got no place to go back to."
What Rouse does have is a home, both in Newnan and here at Emory. Though she worked at Grady Hospital from 1970 to 1983, Rouse is approaching 30 years with some professional connection to Emory. She's program coordinator in the radiology department and works directly with Chair William Casarella.
But her duties to the University don't stop there, since Rouse started her year-long term as president of Employee Council in April and her sixth overall in the body. She's now been an officer four times, and Rouse thinks it's every Emory staff member's obligation to get involved somehow with how the University runs itself.
"If you don't participate in what's going on, then you've got no right to complain," she said simply. "The staff play an important role; we're not just here to go get coffee or pick up the mail. We can and do make a difference in the running of this university, and that's why I'm involved. It's important to have input."
This year Rouse expects Employee Council to make more input into the issue of retirement benefits for employees under the age of 26; the issue suffered a setback last year when President Bill Chace decided it was not financially feasible to adopt a council resolution recommending the University match retirement contributions for those younger employees, but Rouse said she plans to raise it again. "If there's no way it can be done, we'd just like to be sure about it," she said.
Another big concern is child care. "The Clifton Childcare Center is more expensive than a lot of the staff can afford, so it ends up being mostly a faculty childcare center," said Rouse, who's raised two sons of her own. "And there's such a long waiting list. We'd like to see more childcare initiatives [from Emory's administration]."
Rouse is proud of what the council has accomplished in recent years. She said people in her department know she is their representative and come to her with issues they'd like raised, such as when an employee is eligible for retirement. Nowadays an employee can retire with full health insurance if his or her age plus years of service equals 70; it didn't used to be like that, but the council worked with the University Senate's fringe benefits committee, and eventually change came about.
Rouse thinks of herself as a consensus builder, which enables her to get her goals for Employee Council accomplished. "I don't think you get anywhere with dissension or aggression," she said. She acts as liaison between the radiology department and the administration of both the School of Medicine and the University and has learned to deal with all types of people at all levels, and she said those are the skills that help her in council meetings.
But it's Rouse's other skills that help her have fun. For a couple of years she and her husband Don have been kicking up their heels with the Sharpsburg Country & Western Line Dancers, a team that travels around metro Atlanta playing fairs, festivals, nursing homes--wherever they get asked.
"I think it was a midlife crisis," Rouse joked about getting into dancing. "We signed up to do it, and the first thing you know we were crazy about it. It's great exercise, and you socialize with a great bunch of people."
Swing dancing is getting to be her favorite, she said, and the group lives up to its name with line dancing, but they also do ballroom, rock 'n' roll dancing like the jitterbug, and more. "We do anything that's fun," Rouse said. "No break dancing, but we do have some funky routines to some rap music."
It may be all fun, but the time commitment is serious with three practices a week, not including performances. When she's not off dancing in Helen or Warm Springs or Barnesville on the weekends, she can be found on the back of Don's Harley.
"We enjoy riding, as my injury attests," she said, proudly holding out a freshly scarred elbow. "He bought an old 1983 FXRT, a touring bike, and he's fixed it up. It's something he'd always wanted."
And finally, Rouse's least strenuous but perhaps most therapeutic hobby is her garden, which she describes as somewhat formal, English. "I've been gardening forever," she said. "After being [at Emory] all week, I need something to divert my mind."