"Creating Community Through Personal Growth
When Cheryl Bowie took over as Employee Council president
late last spring, that was the theme she hoped would carry Emory’s
most prominent staff communition organization through the 2002–03
“I think so,” said Bowie, accountant for radiation oncology
at Grady Hospital. She has been employed at Emory since 1995 and
a member of Employee Council since 1998. “I really wanted
people to understand the advantages of having a voice in University
governance. When I joined the council five years ago, it was a grievance
The council is still that, of course, as evidenced by its sponsorship
of a drive led by Carter Center staff to revise the University’s
pre-employment drug testing policy, but the 33-year-old council
is a lot more.
Employee Council serves as a communication mechanism among staff,
empowering members of the widespread Emory community to talk to
and work with each other; it is a catalyst for campus involvement;
and it is an information conduit, giving employees an avenue to
learn more about University, professional development opportunities
and Emory history.
“If you have a new employee coming in and they don’t
know anything about Emory, this is one of the best places to start,”
It hasn’t always been that way. One of Bowie’s accomplishments
as council president has been her oversight of a revamped council
What once was a graphic-less wasteland of dry information is now
a spiffy web destination for Emory employees. In previous incarnations,
the website contained only council information, but in the interest
of creating a wider community, a variety of external links were
added, such as the Well House and Employee Discount Program.
While serving as council president can be draining, it is an experience
Bowie said she wouldn’t trade. “I got an opportunity
to meet a lot of people who make the decisions here and understand
their thinking processes,” she said. “You’re looking
at it from the standpoint of, ‘We want good employee morale,
but this also is an institution that has to see the whole picture.’
Policy isn’t anything that can be changed on a whim.”
Being part of that decision process, taking an active role on campus,
is something beneficial to—even crucial for—all employees,
Bowie said. However, not all of them realize it.
“In general, a minority of employees take advantage of opportunities
to participate in University governance,” Bowie said. For
some, she continued, their job may not allow them much time away,
but for other employees, the disinterest is perhaps a bit more disappointing.
“If something doesn’t come across their table in brightly
colored paper, they don’t pay attention,” she said.
“The only time you are going to get 100 percent employee interest
is when it deals with their pay or their benefits. Everything else
What encourages Bowie is the people who are interested in contributing
to the campus. They stay up to date on campus issues of all types.
They participate in campus activities, and they try to rally the
troops when it’s necessary.
That is the attitude Bowie has brought to her Emory career since
she started working here. “From day one, I’ve been looking
to see what was here,” she said.
“I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to walk out of
my office and onto the Quad. So, I maximized every opportunity I
had to go to campus and take advantage of everything.”
“She’s very energetic and very organized,” said
Diane Cassels, radiation oncology administrator. It was Cassels
who nominated Bowie for the council. “She likes interacting
with people from different departments and always brings out the
best in them.”
The 2002–03 year marked a lot of firsts for Employee Council,
not the least of which was the fact the Bowie was its first president
to be employed off Emory’s main campus. That certainly played
a role in the council’s focus on community.
The council also met at Yerkes for the first time. One of its popular
information fairs was held at the VA Hospital—again for the
first time. In fact, the council, in one capacity or another, held
events at several of Emory’s satellite locations (the Carter
Center, Oxford, the VA and Yerkes)—again, the first time that
happened for each.
This year also saw the council receive a $5,000 donation from the
Center for Ethics to fund its servant leadership program, an effort
that began in 2001 when Bowie was the council’s president-elect.
There is another asterisk to place next to Bowie’s name in
the record book: When her term is over in September, she will be
the longest serving president the council has ever had. The council
amended its bylaws this year, changing its administrative year to
begin and end in September, in order to match the other governance
organizations. Prior to this year, the council’s year began
and ended in April; Bowie’s term has lasted 17 months.
“I’ve had a lot of fun, and everyone who worked with
me was very responsible,” Bowie said. “I had a lot of
help and a lot of good advice, but it was the longest year.”
Bowie accomplished all of her council objectives, along with her
regular work. She has had held two positions at Grady; prior to
her current job, which she started in 1997, Bowie was senior medical
secretary for the School of Medicine’s associate dean for
Since much of her current work deals with federal grants and foundation
money, Bowie was given the title of “accountant,” although
the more accurate moniker would be “business operations manager.”
She juggles a workload of five faculty members from three sites
(Grady, the Winship Cancer Institute and the Emory Clinic), and
her cozy two-story office building a couple blocks from Grady is
the primary point of contact for the division’s operations
at the hospital.
Earlier this year Bowie expanded her horizons off campus by beginning
graduate work at West Georgia. In two more years, Bowie will have
a master’s degree in business education and will be certified
to teach middle and high school students, as well as train employees
in the private sector. Her goal is to teach adults, specifically
in computer education.
Bowie’s career path has taken a bit of a turn from her undergraduate
days. A native Atlantan, she graduated with a journalism degree
from Georgia State. “I love it, but I knew I’d never
do it for business,” said Bowie, who concentrated in public
relations. In fact, it was a less-than-fulfilling internship in
Atlanta that helped lead her away from the profession.
Eventually, she landed at Emory, and both side of that work equation—employee
and employer—have benefited. “In a corporate world or
in government, I can’t say what I think,” Bowie said.
“But here dialogue is encouraged. That’s the best thing
you can experience in an employment situation. You’re free
to ask questions, and that’s empowering, even if you don’t
get the answer you want.”