March 31, 2003

No smoking at building entrances

By Michael Terrazas

Interim Provost Woody Hunter began the March 25 University Senate meeting, held in the Jones Room of Woodruff Library, with an explanation of the Board of Trustees’ conditional approval of Emory’s Educational and General Budget for fiscal year 2004. The trustees, Hunter said, approved the budget pending a final review on June 5.

“In the last two years, the decline in total equity values has been greater than any decline since 1929,” said Hunter in explaining how the national economic slowdown has affected Emory. “This is not just your regular 10- or 12-year cyclical recession.”

In his remarks, President Bill Chace announced that, in response to a report from the Environmental Mission Statement implementation task force, he has appointed John Wegner to serve as Emory’s first campus environmental officer, with the task of “monitoring in a vigilant way” the University’s environmental efforts.

Next on the agenda was the election of officers for 2003–04, and the Senate elected by a 24–0 vote Sharon Strocchia (associate professor of history) as president-elect
and Jane Howell (senior editor in University Publications) as secretary.

Representing the ad hoc committee examining the University’s pre-employment drug-testing policy, current President-elect John Snarey said the committee reached consensus on a revised policy, but there are still “rough edges to be sanded down” and the committee will present its ideas at the April Senate meeting.

Reporting on the product of an initiative from last year, University Secretary Gary Hauk said the President’s Cabinet voted March 10 to ban smoking from within 20 feet of all entrances to Emory buildings (see story).

Next, the Senate voted to endorse all five candidates submitted by the honorary degrees committee to receive honorary degrees in 2004. The candidates, which are confidential, will be forwarded to the Board of Trustees.

To close the meeting, Sid Stein of the fringe benefits committee said enrollment in Emory’s new long-term care insurance program is going well, with “hundreds” of people taking advantage of the benefit. Stein said the committee has not dealt with much new business this year, but in light of last year’s changes to the employee benefits package, he presented a resolution from the committee that calls upon the University to put a “cap on the cap” on Emory contributions to under-65 retiree health insurance premiums.

One of the benefits changes made last year was limiting the University’s share of said premiums to 50 percent for 2003, to increase by no more than 4 percent every year thereafter. Stein’s resolution proposed that Emory never let the share of health premiums paid by under-65 retirees (who are not old enough to qualify for Medicare) rise above COBRA premiums. COBRA requires Emory to allow recently departed employees to remain in the University health care plan providing they pay 100 percent of the premiums; since COBRA actuarial tables take into account all employees, the premiums can be lower than those for retirees.

Stein said the proposal almost certainly would not come into play for at least a decade, and Hunter called it “fair and reasonable.” The Senate approved the resolution by a vote of 21–2.

The next Senate meeting will be held April 22 at 3:15 p.m. in the Jones Room.

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