The 21st century University we aspire to become needs to be a special
place, leading in moral courage, a wellspring of the future and
a think tank to address social ills.
As such an institution, Emory must consider first the impact of
proposed changes in wages or benefits on the morale and the welfare
of those at the lower levels of University salary structures and
those who have already given many years of service and commitment
to the Universityits retirees. Emory has a moral commitment
to both its current and past employees.
I was disappointed by initial reactions to proposed benefits reductions
that focused on the detriment to faculty pocketbooks. We faculty
are a privileged bunch, allowed to control our own research and
teaching content and our own time, all supported by students and
the society at large. Although there is considerable evidence that
benefits are low relative to some of our peers and that recruitment
and retention of faculty and staff (not to mention institutional
reputation) may suffer from a miserly response to an economic downturn,
there are many who will pay a much higher price than privileged
Emory already has many employees living at the edges and margins
of full participation. Some are living very close to the federal
poverty guidelines ($17,650 for a family of four in 2001). Many
are already falling through the cracks, since they pay as much for
health care as faculty and administrators, many of whom make five
to 10 times as much money. Perhaps the only hope for escape from
these marginal occupations is for employees or their children the
hope of qualifying for tuition reimbursement or courtesy scholarships.
I have been amazed and gratified at the positive responses from
staff and faculty over the past two weeks. The College Executive
Committee set up a LearnLink open discussion area and also posted
information about the state of the budget and the proposed changes.
(This area can be found on LearnLink under Public Conference, then
Faculty Projects. For access via the Web, visit www.learnlink. emory.edu/collexec/).
A small self-identified group, the Budget & Benefits Working
Group, set up an e-mail box to receive comments (firstname.lastname@example.org).
After momentary negativity and dismay, numerous suggestions for
saving money and raising new money have emerged. Bernie Joy of the
purchasing department wrote an elegant essay, Send Us In,
Coach, suggesting that more effective use of Emorys
purchasing system could save hundreds of thousands a year for a
Bernie points out the fact that there are 19,000 employees and
that we all make up a team with common goals. With all of us positively
attacking this financial problem, both relying on each other and
helping each other, the sums that must be saved are easily attainable.
From the part-time student worker to the $200,000/year executive,
we must pull together and work together.
A team of writers from the microbiology department suggested that
changing budget rules so that departments arent forced to
use it or lose it at the end of each fiscal year has
the potential for additional saving.
Environmental groups and facilities personnel suggested that turning
off the lights when rooms and buildings are not in use could save
Another option is reducing the number of publications distributed
to faculty and staff. Just this week I received three glossy, full-color
I can see mailing them to potential donors and to the public for
advertisingbut to all faculty and staff? Perhaps creating
the option of receiving campus publications electronically, or an
e-mail notification of online information, could contribute substantial
Rebidding the contracts for telephone and network services, and
considering a unified messaging solution instead of add-on voicemail,
are among the cost-saving proposals pouring in. To paraphrase Bernie
Joy: Call on us, Coach! We can help save money.
Although many faculty might object, limited growth in the student
body would contribute substantial new funds. Each paying student
brings approximately $26,000. With financial aid commitments at
1419 percent, 500 new students would still cover the costs
of all suggested benefits cuts. These could be split across all
Around 1992, I wrote to then-President James Laney to suggest that
we revisit Emorys conservative endowment investment and payout
policy. The idea was that costs of buildings and technology infrastructure
were projected to rise faster than the investment income.
Had we spent some of the endowment then to construct all the buildings
in the master plan and to ramp up technology, savings would have
been significant. Just compare the 198990 cost of Rollins
Research Center with the cost of the new Whitehead building and
youll get my drift. Indeed, because we did not invest in buildings
then, Emory rents a lot of space at costs that could pay off the
full purchase price in 10 years.
We all know that Institutional Advancement and all of our deans
are working hard to raise new funds. Perhaps if we invested in new
key staff positions, more funds could be raised. The University
receives a lot of federal money for research; faculty may be able
to be more efficient in grants with small investments in the Office
of Technology Transfer and in grant writing assistance.
If we have a crisis that might constrain growth unless we cut benefits
and new initiatives, let us spend endowment capital now and then
begin a capital campaign to build it back up from a position of
strength, with buildings paid for and maintaining reasonable, equitable,
non-regressive benefits that exemplify the 21st century University
we aspire to become. A short-term increase of a half or full percentage
point in endowment payout would result in more than the funds attained
through reduced benefits. We must negotiate a new compact with our
administrators and our Board of Trustees to ensure this moral vision.
Perhaps a silver lining to the current cloud is the increase in
dialogue among the diverse units that buoy our institution, the
growing understanding that we all contribute in many capacities
yet stand to be affected very differently from one size fits
all solutions. Since institutional prosperity draws its strength
from its human resources, the well-being of its employees must remain
the top priority.
Deeply buried in the barrage of data supplied by Human Resources
for the recent benefits town hall meetings is the estimate that
the average faculty tenure at Emory is 10 years and average employee
tenure is six years. Perhaps there is a warning for us there: Unless
all members of the community feel valued, respected and rewarded
appropriately, they leave. And if they leave dissatisfied and distrustful,
our reputation will fall.
Dont send your students, faculty and staff into the world
with these words on their lips: Emory doesnt care enough to
invest in its own future and in its most important capital, human
resources. Such would be the death knell of the Emory dream.