February 2, 2004

Senate passes retiree-benefits motion

By Michael Terrazas

President John Snarey convened the Jan. 27 University Senate meeting in the Woodruff Library's Jones Room by introducing Edward Queen and Kate O'Dwyer Randall, director and assistant director, respectively, of the Ethics and Servant Leadership (EASL) Program located within the Center for Ethics.

The pair spoke for roughly 40 minutes about the concepts of servant leadership, a management philosophy first advanced by former AT&T executive Robert Greenleaf in his 1970 book, The Servant as Leader. The practice has caught on with many Fortune 500 corporations and even divisions at Emory; Bob Hascall, senior associate vice president for Facilities Management (FM), has adopted many servant-leadership principles in FM.

Queen explained the student opportunities offered through EASL and walked Senate members through the skills necessary for effective servant leadership: being a good listener; having empathy for colleagues; and remaining aware of an organization's work environment.

Alice Miller, vice president for Human Resources, reported that the University's new pre-employment drug-testing policy went into effect Jan. 2. The policy states that only applicants for certain identified, safety-sensitive positions will be tested, and this applies also to current employees applying to transfer to such positions.

Sid Stein, chair of the Senate's fringe benefits committee, reported on the work of an ad hoc group that, with the assistance of Miller and Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Mike Mandl, has examined retiree health benefits in light of the benefits changes of two years ago. The group looked into the possibility of restoring pre-2003 University contributions to the health insurance premiums of retired employees not yet 65 (and, thus, ineligible for Medicare) who retired before Jan. 1, 2003. These retirees, Stein said, were not given sufficient notice of the impending change in their benefits when they made the decision to retire.

There are 112 such individuals, and Mandl said the cost of this move would be $180,000 in the first year and would go down every year until the entire cohort reaches 65 years of age; after just three years, half of the 112 retirees would be eligible for Medicare. Mandl said he strongly supported such a move; the Senate unanimously passed a motion approving the proposal, which will be passed on to President Jim Wagner.

With the pressing issue of retiree benefits addressed by Stein's group, Snarey said a new Senate committee during 2004-05 will examine Emory's entire employee benefits package in comparison with those offered by peer institutions. Chaired by Sharon Strocchia, the committee also will work closely with Mandl and Miller and will report to the full Senate every month.

Next, the Senate elected its new officers for 2004-05 (Strocchia, currently president-elect, will take over as president). Mike Rogers, associate professor of mathematics at Oxford, was unanimously voted president-elect; and Rogers' Oxford colleague Jim Brown, director of academic computing, was elected secretary.

To close the meeting, Wagner updated the Senate on the provost search; the first candidate to make a campus visit--Daniel Weiss, James B. Knapp Dean of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University--was holding an open forum in Harland Cinema at the same time as the Senate meeting. The other candidates will visit campus by mid-February, Wagner said.

The search for a new senior vice president for Institutional Advancement will be more confidential than that for provost, the president said, for reasons arising from the nature of the position. Wagner added that, even though activities other than development (alumni relations, public affairs, marketing relations) are covered under the IA umbrella, right now Emory needs a proven fund-raiser in that role.

Wagner closed by speaking about how the University can use the racial incidents of last semester as an opportunity to grow in building--and nurturing--a diverse community. The "practice of community," through which an institution might concede true community to be an unattainable goal while realizing it is the struggle for community that's important, should become a hallmark at Emory, he said.

Wagner said Emory College Dean Bobby Paul and Kent Alexander, senior vice president and general counsel, will chair a "working group" charged with examining the University's discriminatory harrassment policy. Wagner also said he's considering the proposal to create a senior administration position devoted to promoting community, but he would like to involve the new provost in this decision.

"It does seem reasonable," he said, "to have someone who wakes up and spends at least part of his or her day thinking, 'What are we doing to advance community?'"

The next University Senate meeting will be held Feb. 24 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 jsnarey@learnlink.emory.edu.