The Board of Trustees (BOT) has agreed to appoint
University faculty members for three-year terms as nonvoting counselors
to the boards eight major committees, former University Senate
president William Branch announced at the Oct. 28 Senate meeting.
Branch, Carter Smith Sr. Professor of Medicine, had been working
for more than a year with Michael Giles, Goodrich C. White Professor
of Political Science and former chair of the Emory College Executive
Committee, to come to an agreement with BOT Chair Ben Johnson on
having faculty representation on the board. The president and president-elect
of University Senate already were ex officio members of the boards
Academic Affairs committee, but the recent change adds faculty voices
to seven more BOT groups.
"This sends a very sincere message from the Board of Trustees
and its chair that they would value our input and that they feel
we are important stakeholders who should have a voice in the decisions
affecting the University," said Branch, who will sit on the
BOT Real Estate committee.
Both Johnson and President Jim Wagner said the decision is a positive
move for the University.
"I chaired the Academic Affairs committee for several years
before I became board chair, and having the president and president-elect
of the Senate sitting as ex officio members seemed to me to be helpful,
healthy and informative both ways," Johnson said. "This
is a way to open up communication and have the faculty in a position
to better inform the decisions of the board, and better inform the
faculty about decisions of the board."
"[This] is a great move, not so much to modify the kind of
governance we exercise here but to make the existing governance
process more effective," Wagner said. "Although to genuinely
empower an organizational structure it is important to make and
implement decisions through that structure, communication that informs
such decisions should know no structural boundaries. Therefore to
the extent that, in the past, a faculty voice may have been distant
or missing in the deliberations of the working elements of our [BOT],
the appointment of counselors will ensure more effective communication
in the future."
Apart from Senate officers (currently President John Snarey of theology
and President-elect Sharon Strocchia of history) continuing to sit
on the Academic Affairs committee, the other faculty appointees
Carol Hogue, public health.
Institutional Advancement: Eleanor Main, educational
Investment: Dwight Duffus, math and computer science.
Real Estate: Branch,
Woodruff Health Sciences Center board: Kathy Parker,
The representatives were chosen from the 38-member Future of the
University Committee, which reports to Faculty Council. This group
was chosen individually among the schools, Branch said; some schools
elected their representatives while others appointed them. From
the list of 38 names, Branch, Giles and Johnson considered individuals
expertise in choosing which people to appoint to the committees.
The term "counselors" comes directly from the University
bylaws, which state that the board committees have authority to
appoint such nonvoting members to engage in deliberations. Branch,
for one, said he is not concerned about the faculty representatives
nonvoting status since committees rarely engage in close votes on
any issue, and it is the participation in discussion that carries
the most influence.
"There is a great tendency of these committees to reach a unanimous
decision; as debates and deliberations go on, people are sort of
pulled toward the majority," Branch said. "There is a
lot that goes on that reflects the input of conversation, and a
lot less that reflects official votes."
Certain formal structures of faculty representation on the boardsuch
as how new representatives will be chosen once the first group serves
its three yearshave not been decided, but Branch said what
has been done is an important first step, and his colleagues at
the Senate seemed to agree.
"Ben Johnson, the man who did such an outstanding job of bringing
us a new president, has again signaled that it is no longer business
as usual at Emory," Snarey said. "The entire University
community owes him another Job well done."