Find Events Find People Find Jobs Find Sites Find Help Index


April 16, 2001

Faculty vote opposes recent admin changes

By Michael Terrazas


During a meeting held April 11 in 208 White Hall, the faculty of Emory College passed a resolution requesting the University administration to rescind its recent creation of the position of executive vice provost for arts and sciences.

Roughly 300 faculty members attended the meeting, many sitting on the lecture hall stairs or standing in the rear. Chemistry Professor Myron Kaufman chaired the meeting, which was called after President Bill Chace and Provost Rebecca Chopp announced the position on March 20, which has authority over both the graduate school and the college.

Harvey Klehr, Mellon Professor of Politics and History, introduced the resolution, which objected to a perceived lack of faculty input into the administration’s decision. Including Klehr, the statement was signed by 24 senior faculty members, nearly all of them holders of chaired professorships.

“Despite claims to the contrary, the new structure has diminished the status of Emory College in the University,” the resolution reads, citing that the college dean no longer reports directly to the provost and does not have ultimate authority in hiring and tenure decisions. “Undergraduate education will no longer have an unequivocal advocate at the highest levels of this university.”

Following roughly 70 minutes of debate, the faculty voted by a show of hands, the outcome being evident without a vote tally. A number of amendments to the resolution were proposed and defeated; the only approved change was the deletion of a word in the final sentence.

“We are pledged to the strengthening of both Emory College and the Graduate Division and thus to the enhancement of all of the dimensions of faculty life in the Arts and Sciences,” said Chace, Chopp, Robert Paul (who was appointed as the first executive vice provost) and law school Dean Woody Hunter (who will become interim provost following Chopp’s departure) in a joint statement.

“We view the resolution recently passed by the faculty of the college as cause for immediate and consultive action, and we are grateful for this serious engagement and energetic debate in the life of the University.

“In particular, we are pledged to the full involvement of the faculty in the reorganization of Arts and Sciences,” the statement continued. “Believing in the importance of this action, we further pledge the full resources of the administration, working in all appropriate ways with members of the faculty, in committees and individually, toward the effective organization of Arts and Sciences. We will do so in the coming days and weeks, as well as into the next academic year, and will have the faculty resolution as a primary topic of these discussions.”

When he announced the new position in March, Chace said it was not his preference to institute such a change without a more extensive discussion with faculty, but he said the recently announced departures of both Chopp and college Dean Steve Sanderson necessitated an accelerated course of action.

“The work of the day has to get done,” Chace told the Faculty Council in a meeting held April 10. “We were prompted to make some changes that will provide Emory with something other than a landscape of nothing but [job candidate] searches. I know people can be uneasy and dizzy with change, but I ask for the collective understanding of the faculty.”

One day later, a significant number of faculty voted for an amendment to Klehr’s resolution, proposed by sociology Associate Professor Frank Lechner, that would have removed the call for Chace to rescind the executive vice provostship. The amendment called instead for a faculty committee to study the question of what administrative structure is best for the college, the grad school and the A&S faculty as a whole. Professors who supported the amendment said it proposed a course of action rather than simply objecting to what’s already transpired.

“The important thing is to do something very specific and very constructive,” Lechner said.

Another group of faculty asked to remove the Klehr resolution’s supposition that the new executive vice provostship necessarily “diminishes” the college or undergraduate instruction, but this amendment also was defeated.

Finally, nearly everyone who spoke in the meeting—those in attendance voted to limit its duration to 60 minutes (later extended to 70) and individual speakers’ allotted time to three minutes apiece—stated explicitly that their objections had nothing to do with Paul, the new post’s first occupant.

In fact, one amendment sought to insert language expressing this sentiment into the resolution itself.

But others said that since their objections were so removed from their personal feelings toward Paul, inserting his name into the statement would unduly force him into the debate, and the amendment did not pass.

“Bobby Paul is a friend of mine, but administrators come and go,” said Donald Verene, Candler Professor of Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy. “You can’t put your faith in a particular administrator; you have to put your faith in structures and how they stand—because it’s the structures that always remain.”


Back to Emory Report April 16, 2001