April 21, 2003

Faculty Council hears commission report

By Michael Terrazas

Chair Bill Branch opened the final Faculty Council meeting of the academic year, held April 15 in 400 Administration, by briefing the council on the formation of the Faculty Advisory Committee meant to provide additional faculty input to the Presidential Search Committee.

Branch said Board of Trustees Chair Ben Johnson, who chairs the search committee, asked him to submit 10 nominations for the advisory committee. Five of Branch’s nominees were named to the 10-member group, which Johnson announced earlier this month.

In subsequent discussion of the search, council members asked Branch whether the search committee plans to hold open faculty meetings with finalists for the position. Many candidates prefer confidentiality, especially in the early stages of the search, but the council asked Branch to urge the search committee for transparency in the later stages of the process.

Next, Commission on Research co-chairs Claire Sterk and David Carr updated the council on the commission’s work. Early in 2003, the commission released a draft report that was part of Emory’s reaccreditation process through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Sterk said some faculty think this report was the conclusion of the commission’s work, but she reminded the council that the commission plans to release an expanded and updated report this fall.

“We’re almost using that first report as background for the work we’re doing now,” Sterk said.

Carr added that it is important for the commission’s work to be regarded as a product of the faculty. Rather than an overview from the administration, the Commission on Research should be considered a “faculty self-study,” Carr said. Council members stressed to the two co-chairs the importance of identifying concrete benchmarks in the commission’s final report so that Emory may measure its progress.

President Bill Chace commended Sterk and Carr and the commission as a whole for its work over the past two years, and he said he would do “everything possible” to convince the Board of Trustees and his own successor to act on the commission’s recommendations.

“It would be pitiable if all this labor and thought were to be lost in the [administrative] transition,” Chace said. “I don’t think that will happen.”

In his remarks, interim Provost Woody Hunter presented an income/expense analysis of the University’s Educational and General Budget for fiscal year 2004, which has received conditional approval from the Board of Trustees pending a final review in late May and early June.

In a time of financial constraint, Hunter pointed out a 4 percent ($765,000) increase in the University Libraries budget, which he said was a “conscious effort to keep library holdings growth consistent with the research mission of the University.” The big expense drivers of the budget, he said, are increases in insurance costs; assessment and redistribution of benefits costs after Emory Healthcare changed its benefits system; and one-time costs associated with several new facilities coming online.

In year-ending committee reports, the Faculty Hearing and University Research committees filed written reports. The former had nothing to report since there were no faculty hearings during the year, reported chair James Hughes. URC chair Cy Wilcox wrote that applications are still being reviewed for the committee’s spring awards cycle, but committee is granting a new faculty award in performing and visual arts to complement its existing Levy Awards in biological and health sciences.

Chairs of three ad hoc committees delivered their final reports. Representing the ad hoc committee on academic freedom and student concerns, co-chair Bruce Knauft reported on the great success of the March 26 Classroom on the Quad event. With an estimated attendance that reached 2,000, the event was roundly applauded by council members, and Knauft proposed elevating the committee to permanent status so that similar events might be designed in the future.

Sharon Strocchia reported for the ad hoc committee on communication. Strocchia said the possibility still exists for an online faculty discussion area, and she is working with the Information Technology Division and the University webmaster to investigate the matter further.

Branch, speaking for the ad hoc commmittee on the future of the University, said the group, which to date has been a function mostly of the Faculty Council executive committee, has met twice. It has submitted a list of 34 names to Johnson in hopes of assigning faculty members to each of the Board of Trustees’ seven major committees.
John Snarey, chair-elect of the council, was not present, and Branch said Snarey would be installed as council chair (and University Senate president) at the Senate meeting on April 22. Faculty Council will reconvene in the fall.

If you have a question or concern for Faculty Council, e-mail Chair Bill Branch at william_branch@emoryhealthcare.org.