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February 4, 2002

Senate passes smoking resolution

By Michael Terrazas


First on the agenda of the Jan. 29 University Senate meeting, held in Woodruff Library’s Jones Room, was an address by Don Brunn, chief operating officer of the Emory Clinic.

Brunn briefed the Senate on a wide-ranging efficiency audit currently under way at the clinic to address billing and collection problems. He said nine different working groups are examining problems such as billing-statement clarity, accounts receivable, patient registration and other areas. Brunn said heightened efficiency and a higher return on services is greatly needed, as diminished Medicare reimbursements are expected to cost the clinic $1.7 million in the first nine months of 2002, while malpractice insurance premiums could rise 50–70 percent.

Responding to a question, Brunn said currently there are no plans to examine patient scheduling and appointments simply because the clinic administrative staff is stretched thin enough with its current audit. But he said the area does need to be addressed, and some individual departments of the clinic (such as cardiology) are making admirable progress.

Next up, the Senate considered a resolution introduced by Employee Council President Bill McBride. The resolution called upon President Bill Chace name a “person/committee/task force” to designate a “main entrance” to every public building on campus (except for residence halls, fraternity houses and sorority lodges), then to designate a distance from the main entrances within which smoking would not be permitted.

Following a lengthy debate, the resolution passed with three amendments: first, the wording was changed to “main entrances,” to allow for buildings with multiple high-use entrances; second, a sentence was added calling upon the task force to examine the possibility of banning smoking from certain public, outdoor areas “of scenic beauty,” such as the new fountain behind Candler Library; and third, the task force would be asked to designate specific smoking areas outside campus buildings to provide smokers with a place they can smoke without fear of harrassment.

One proposed amendment, which would have called upon smoking to be banned within 20 feet of every entrance to every nonresidential building on campus, was defeated.

President Bill Chace announced that EmoryGives surpassed its 2001 campaign goal of $415,000 by $32,000, drawing contributions from 1,345 individuals across the University.

Chace also announced that, faced with shrinking revenue growth and increasing costs, the University is examining the possibility of reducing some employee benefits. He stressed that no final decisions have been made, but added that outside economic conditions dictate that some decisions be made by the end of the semester.

Senate members’ concerns regarding possible benefits changes centered around the following issues:

• the possibility of current employees’ existing benefits being grandfathered in under any revised plan.

• the question of whether Emory would reinstate the old benefits once the economic situation improves.

• how much input the administration would like and how it should be delivered.

• when any changes would go into effect.

Senate President Frank Vandall said he would ask Sid Stein, chair of the fringe benefits committee, to look into the issue, stay in contact with the administration and report back at a later Senate meeting.

The next Senate meeting will be held Feb. 26 at 3:15 p.m. in the Jones Room.

If you have a question or concern for University Senate, e-mail Vandall at