November 3, 2003

Senate passes new drug-testing proposal

By Michael Terrazas

Opening the Oct. 28 meeting of the University Senate in the Woodruff Library’s Jones Room was Michelle Smith, director of corporate relations, who delivered a presentation on the 2003–04 EmoryGives campaign.

Smith showed the promotional video for this year’s effort, then gave an update on the campaign: Three weeks in, EmoryGives had raised 32 percent of its $425,000 goal from 423 donors. Smith said one major objective is to improve on last year’s 10 percent participation rate among Emory’s 18,000–20,000 employees.

Next on the agenda was an announcement from Bill Branch, chair of the Future of the University Committee of Faculty Council, that the committee had reached an agreement with the Board of Trustees (BOT) to appoint faculty as nonvoting "counselors" to the board’s eight major committees (see story).

Branch said the move will lift Emory from having "almost the least faculty representation on the board among our peer institutions to having the most," and the addition of faculty to BOT committees would inject creativity and imagination into the board’s deliberations.

Questions about the development included how new representatives will be chosen once the first nine rotate off (the initial appointments are for three years) and how the representatives will communicate with their constituencies about BOT considerations. On the first point, Branch said no final structures had been set in place and that it was more important to get the first nine appointed; mechanisms for choosing new representatives can be designed later.

To the second question, Branch said the nine faculty are part of the 38-member Futures Committee, which reports to Faculty Council, which in turn reports to the Senate. This structure of communication, he said, is how he envisions the representatives staying in touch with the larger University.

Next, Mary Anne Lindskog presented the roster of the honorary degrees committee for approval and asked Senate members to solicit and submit nominations for honorary degree recipients in 2005.

The final item on the agenda was the anticipated proposal from the Senate’s ad hoc committee studying the University’s pre-employment drug-testing policy. Sharon Strocchia, who chaired the committee, explained the new proposal, whose basic points include:

* Testing would be done only on applicants for "safety-sensitive" positions, such as drivers of University vehicles, providers of campus security, individuals involved in patient or animal care, etc. Strocchia said divisions would be given a good deal of autonomy in determining which positions fall under these categories.

* Current employees wishing to transfer to a safety-sensitive position would be tested. Strocchia said a positive test result would not affect the employee’s prior, non-safety-sensitive job status.

* The policy would be reviewed periodically by the University for overall effectiveness, and the proposal urged the administration to share statistical results of the new policy with the Senate’s executive committee at the one-year anniversary of its implementation.

* Supervisors would be encouraged to be attentive to job impairment due to possible substance abuse and take appropriate action if necessary.

Employee Council President Don Newsome and Student Government Association President Euler Bropleh, both of whom sat on the ad hoc committee, expressed the endorsement of their respective organizations for the new policy proposal.

One question that arose was whether divisions that wish to test job applicants for all positions—for example, John Ford, senior vice president for Campus Life, said at Senate meetings last year that he wanted all new applicants to Campus Life to be tested—would be allowed to do so under the proposed policy.

Strocchia repeated that divisions would be given wide latitude in determining which of their job positions would be considered "safety-sensitive," but that testing would be restricted to applicants to positions so classified.

After a relatively brief discussion, the Senate voted unanimously to support the proposed policy, which will be forwarded to President Jim Wagner for consideration.

The next Senate meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 3:15 p.m. in the Jones Room.

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