November 3, 2003

Faculty appointed to BOT committees

By Michael Terrazas

The Board of Trustees (BOT) has agreed to appoint University faculty members for three-year terms as nonvoting counselors to the board’s 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 board’s 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 include:

Audit: Consuelo Kertz,business.

Campus Life: Carol Hogue, public health.

Finance: Marshall Duke, psychology.

Institutional Advancement:
Eleanor Main, educational studies.

Dwight Duffus, math and computer science.

Real Estate: Branch, medicine.

Woodruff Health Sciences Center board:
Kathy Parker, nursing.

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 board—such as how new representatives will be chosen once the first group serves its three years—have 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.’"