December 4, 2000
to faculty sets
By Jan Gleason
A comprehensive review of information technology and the formulation of an election process for the Presidential Advisory Committee, the group that reviews candidates for tenure and advises the president and provost before they recommend candidates to the trustees, are two activities outlined in Provost Rebecca Chopps annual letter to the faculty.
Chopp began the IT review by asking members of the Council of Information
Resources and Technology (CIRT), the Digital Futures Seminar, the Council
of Deans, the Provosts Council and others to describe Emorys
IT needs and help identify issues of immediate concern. She appointed
Don Harris as interim vice provost for IT and asked senior vice provost
Harriet King will lead a group that will map existing IT resources at
In the five-page missive sent to all faculty in early November, Chopp
outlined these and other plans for the year that are meant to advance
faculty scholarship by sharpening Emorys academic profile, to increase
the depth and breadth of support for scholars, and to improve the structures
Emory uses to develop its academic agenda.
In the letter, she wrote, Again, you must help sharpen our direction. Without your guidance, Emorys academic development will not continue.
Faculty reaction to the letter has been positive.
What Ive heard people saying about the letter is that they
are pleased with being included in the loop and the information is very
useful, said Martine Brownley, Goodrich C. White Professor of English.
Some-times its easy to forget youre part of a larger
university, and this ties us altogether in a good way. This letter is
a good device for letting people know whats going on; they wouldnt
have any other way of knowing.
Chopp outlined two activities that will help sharpen Emorys academic
profile: a focus on research at Emory and the systematic planning for
the size and composition of the student body across the university.
Regarding the research at Emory project, Chopp wrote, We need to
consider how the university can help scholars increase resources for their
research, take advantage of the latest technologies, deal with ever-increasing
requirements and regulations, and insure that Emory sets the standards
for ethical behavior in relevant areas.
Chopp wrote that she and President Bill Chace will appoint a commission
to investigate the nature of research and how changes will affect the
future of the research university.
She has already begun to shape this project by talking this fall with
about 120 faculty chosen at random to participate in small-group lunch
meetings to discuss the questions that should be explored.
To help plan for student body size and composition, Chopp plans to involve
faculty in developing strategies to enroll a student body that Emory has
the faculty and facilities to educate while achieving diversity and international
In addition to examining IT to increase support for scholars, Chopp said
she will work to consolidate several funds that support faculty projects
and create additional resources to help faculty conduct teaching and research.
Specifically, the University Teaching Fund awards will be used for a
broader range of practices related to teaching, and a Quadrangle Fund
has been created to enable faculty to compete for the means to hold research
workshops, interdisciplinary forums and conferences.
In addition to the formal initiatives to advance scholarship, I
am also excited about the many informal initiatives, including the wide
range of faculty seminars, said Claire Sterk, professor of behavioral
sciences and Faculty Council chair.
Personally, I have had the opportunity to participate in a seminar on addiction sponsored by the Science and Society program and led by Howard Kushner, the Nat Robertson Distinguished Professor, Sterk said. Seminars like this stimulate interdisciplinary dialogue and research. One of Emory's main strengths is the willingness of the faculty to engage in interdisciplinary work, thereby contributing to the future of research at Emory."
Chopp also noted several new resources to support teaching and research:
the purchase of the electronic database Science-Direct; the hiring of
Wendy Newby to work with faculty to help interpret and resolve issues
concerning accommodation of disabilities and teaching methods; and the
appointment of a council to take up questions of diversity and faculty
development that was recommended by a working group of faculty concerned
about support for minority faculty members.
She outlined budget planning and tenure guidelines as two structures
that would be focused on for improvement.
"Last spring the Ways and Means Committee announced that each school
and administrative unit must present a plan to reduce its expenses for
2001-2002 by three percent of the 2000-2001 amount. This strategy is designed
not to readuce the budget overall, but to free some funds for investment
in new strategic areas. During recent budget cycles, the committee has
learned how hard it is to trim programs and redirect the funds they require.
This exercise is a first step toward focusing our investments routinely.
If we are to develop new ideas, we must use discipline of this kind.
Chopps letter can be read at: www.emory.edu/PROVOST/faculty/faculty_letter.htm.