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September 30, 2002

Senate hears committee plans for new year

By Michael Terrazas

President William Branch convened the first University Senate meeting of 2002–03 on Sept. 24 in the Jones Room of Woodruff Library. First on the agenda were remarks from interim Provost Woody Hunter, who spoke about the ongoing budget equilibrium project.

Hunter mentioned one aspect of the project that has not previously been publicized; it will push back the University’s budget planning and approval process by 30 days. This move, Hunter said, will help align the University’s process more closely with that of Emory Healthcare; budget planning in the health care industry generally is done later than in academia, he added.

The Board of Trustees (BOT) still will set tuition rates for the following year at its February meeting, Hunter said, but other budget approvals will be moved to March. If the switch goes smoothly, the process may be pushed back another 30 days in 2004. The switch also gives Emory budget planners a break during the holiday season, when traditionally they have been hard at work. “This is a more humane approach [to budget planning],” Hunter said.

University Secretary Gary Hauk reported on the status of two Senate resolutions from 2001–02 that had been submitted to the administration. Regarding the Senate’s call to designate cigarette smoke-free entrances to Emory buildings, Hauk said a task force chaired by Facilities Management’s Bob McMains has mapped all building entrances, identifying at least one for each building around which smoking would be prohibited within 20 feet, and will make its recommendations soon. These will be called “clean air” entrances, Hauk added, and signage and ashtrays will be installed where appropriate.

The other resolution forwarded to the administration was the Statement of Grave Concern, passed by the faculty of Emory College and later approved by the Senate, regarding the spring discussion of employee benefits. Though not all the statements requests were granted—employee benefits were adjusted in April—the resolution and its surrounding discussion did result in, among other things, greater communication between the faculty and the trustees.

That report led directly into the Senate’s next item of business, a report from Branch on summer discussions between trustees and a group of faculty representing the Senate, Emory College and the graduate school. The group requested that faculty members be appointed as full voting members to several key BOT committees. Branch said BOT chair Ben Johnson responded favorably to all the group’s requests, and the main question now is how the faculty members would be selected. The issue is not without precedent, Branch added, since the Senate president and president-elect currently are ex-officio members of the BOT academic affairs committee.

Chairs of the Senate’s various committees then submitted rosters for approval and announced their goals for the year. Highlights included:

Athletic policy: The committee will continue to oversee work on athletic facilities at the new Clairmont Campus, as well as financial aid and gender equity issues.

Campus life: Examine mental health issues, with a focus on surveying faculty to determine their views on the most pressing mental health problems and needs.

Environment: Revisit forest use policy; examine Lullwater management plan; name several streams on campus.

Honorary degrees: Increase frequency of communication with BOT; work more closely with a new student committee on honorary degrees.

Library policy: Stress academic role of libraries in context of budget equilibrium process; work on storage issues as compact, movable shelving is installed in Woodruff Library stack tower.

Safety and security: Continue to develop emergency campus evacuation plan; examine jaywalking concerns; monitor Dooley’s Ball.

Parking and transportation: Review Campus Master Plan and how it relates to parking; place two new radar speed signs around campus to help slow vehicular traffic.

Fringe benefits: Monitor implementation and effectiveness of revised health plans and new 529 payroll deduction plan that allows for tax-free savings for education; introduce new long-term health care coverage offered by Human Resources.

The safety and security and traffic and parking committees both reported they are looking for student members. All committee rosters were approved by the Senate.

The next Senate meeting will be held Oct. 29 at 3:15 p.m. in the Jones Room.

If you have a question or concern for University Senate, send e-mail to President William Branch at