October 27, 2003

Faculty Council listens to two past leaders

By Michael Terrazas

Chair-elect Sharon Strocchia opened the Oct. 21 Faculty Council meeting in 400 Administration by asking for nominations for the 2005 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. Strocchia, who chairs the lecture committee, said the deadline for nominations is Dec. 1, and the group hopes to submit a nominee to President Jim Wagner by the end of December. This year's Distinguished Faculty Lecture, featuring Candler Professor of American Church History Brooks Holifield, will be held Thursday, March 25, 2004.

Next on the agenda was a panel presentation by two former heads of Faculty Council and University Senate. Chair John Snarey invited chemistry Professor Myron Kaufman, who led the bodies during 1993-94, and sociology Professor John Boli (1999-2000) to discuss their experiences working with University administration.

Kaufman (who said he'd finally discarded all his Senate notes just a couple months earlier) recalled that parking--as always--was an issue, and that during his term parking for faculty went from "inexpensive and not available to fairly expensive and available." He said Emory decided to drop Blue Cross as its EmoryCare provider due to high costs, and that an oversight committee was established to monitor the health plan.

Kaufman also during that time served as head of the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and he couldn't recall whether the initiative started in the Senate or the AAUP, but a program was set up to evaluate University administrators every five years. Harriet King, senior vice provost for academic affairs, said the program is still in place but not often used since few high-level administrators have remained in their positions for more than five years.

Boli recounted a number of still-active programs, policies and developments that moved through the Senate during his term: Emeritus College; the maternity/parental leave and tenure-clock policies; and the Starvine Way shuttle road connecting the Clairmont and main campuses.

Boli said he was gratified that some Senate committees were consulted earlier in certain University decision-making processes--the earlier involvement of the Senate environment and campus development committees in capital projects, for example--but felt that increased influence was, and still is, appropriate.

He also cited some University actions that seemed to contravene or ignore earlier Senate recommendations and said this--along with a lack of visibility of the Senate among faculty and a general lack of understanding of its purpose--combined to create a "disconnect" not only between the Senate and its constituencies, but also with the administration itself.

The council moved into a long discussion about demands on faculty members' time and the differences in culture among the schools. Some members felt that faculty were overstretched and needed more time to do research, while others felt the demands placed on them are manageable.

In his remarks, Wagner reacted to the discussion, saying he was disappointed in some things he'd heard and that the "proportion of bitterness" in the council's words reflected a lack of direction in the University and also some flawed decision-making processes.

Wagner said the draft Vision Statement currently up for review and comment from the community will help guide Emory toward improving these processes while also preparing the University for serious strategic planning and "financial campaign" efforts. Wagner consciously used the term "financial" rather than "capital campaign" because he said the resources Emory needs will not necessarily be used for bricks and mortar; they will have more programmatic ends, though these uses may yet involve building construction.

A new device in administration Wagner has introduced, he said, is to ask his direct reports to regularly compile two-part lists of opportunities and issues. If administrators are constantly responding to issues, Wagner said, it's hard to move forward and the institution becomes bogged down in maintaining status quo; by consciously identifying opportunities, administrators are forced to be creative in locating new directions.

To close his remarks, Wagner said a tentative date for his inauguration is set for April 2, 2004, but that he hopes the event will downplay the focus on him as an individual. "I've been to too many coronations," Wagner said. "I'm simply looking forward to being the guest of honor at the University's celebration of the inauguration of its president."

The next Faculty Council meeting will be held Nov. 18 at 3:15 p.m. in 400 Administration.

If you have a question or concern for Faculty Council, e-mail chair John Snarey at jsnarey@learnlink.emory.edu .