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September 27, 2004
FACULTY COUNCIL TO REVISIT ITS CHARGE IN 2004-05
In its first meeting of the academic year, held Sept. 21 in 400 Administration, the Faculty Council welcomed new members and outlined its broad goals for the 2004–05 year.
Chair Sharon Strocchia began by revisiting the council’s history. It was founded in conjunction with the University Senate in 1964, she said, and no significant changes have been made to the council’s bylaws since 1982. Strocchia wondered, in light of the many other groups and initiatives launched in the two-plus decades hence, whether the current environment of University-wide planning is a good one to re-examine the council’s charge and determine whether changes are warranted.
To that end, she identified five key areas over which
the council has responsibility: teaching, research, grievance processes, faculty governance and faculty development. Over the year, at least one council meeting will be centered on discussing each of these issues. “We have gaps on one hand and redundancies on the other,” Strocchia said of the relationship between the council and other campus groups and projects. “At best, this situation means we may not be using our resources most efficiently, and at worst we are just confusing ourselves.”
Attending his first meeting as Emory’s provost, Earl Lewis introduced himself to the group and briefly described the many issues facing the campus this year. Chief among these is the strategic planning process, for which Lewis serves as co-chair; he said one of his main goals is to identify cross-cutting themes and issues that tie the University’s various parts together.
Lewis said at least two searches for deans will be ongoing (Goizueta Business School and Oxford College), and he also hopes to find a permanent dean for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Bryan Noe has been serving as interim dean since June 2003).
Another goal, Lewis said, is to look for new ways to use Emory’s endowment to fund academic growth and progress even before the University begins to see returns from the upcoming comprehensive campaign. Finally, he said he is looking at changes in his office, possibly adding two vice provosts to oversee academic planning and faculty development, and issues of campus diversity.
John Ellis, co-director of academic technologies for the Information Technology Division, briefed the council on the EmoryLink project (see story, page 1) and encouraged members to attend this week’s technology showcase, set for Thursday, Sept. 30, from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. The project’s ambitious task is to look for new technology solutions to create an integrated, enterprise-wide system for e-mail, calendaring and electronic collaboration. Ellis pointed the council to the showcase and the EmoryLink website (www.emory.edu/ EMORYLINK), which features an online survey.
Reporting for the Faculty Life Course Committee, the medical school’s Nanette Wenger presented the results of a survey of new faculty conducted last year. As the main problem reported by new faculty across the schools was a difficulty in getting “up and running” within the Emory system, Wenger proposed three solutions: (1) to facilitate administrative processing of a new faculty member (getting an Emory ID, e-mail access, phone number, etc.) before the professor’s actual “start date”; (2) allowing new faculty to review benefit information from Human Resources before they arrive on campus; and (3) posting a “web directory” off the provost’s website that compiles sites (related not only to Emory but also to the broader Atlanta area) that could help new arrivals become oriented.
The council unanimously passed motions supporting these recommendations and calling upon the committee to work with the appropriate offices (Human Resources, general counsel) to determine their feasibility.
Prior to the meeting, Strocchia had solicited suggestions for council goals during 2004–05. These were compiled in a document distributed to members (example: “I’d like to help coordinate scholarship of teaching and learning with the [University Research Committee] or teaching fund”), and Strocchia urged the members to review these suggestions—and for those who had not yet submitted suggestions to do so—in preparation for the October meeting.
To close, President Jim Wagner welcomed Strocchia as the council’s new chair and Lewis as one of its newest members. He encouraged the council to think creatively as it addresses its goals, and also to become a forum of more “sophistication,” where challenging and even difficult issues can be discussed at a level of discourse that rises above the enmity that too often characterizes such discussions.
The next Faculty Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 3:15 p.m. in 400 Administration.—Michael Terrazas
If you have a question or concern for Faculty Council, e-mail Strocchia at email@example.com.
LGBT TO EDUCATE ABOUT PROPOSED GA AMENDMENT
The President’s Commission on the Status of LGBT Concerns held its first meeting of the academic year, Tuesday, Sept. 21 in 400 Administration. Its previous meeting was in April, but that doesn’t mean it hadn’t been working.
A fall retreat on Sept. 10 drew 10 members (nearly half the group), and the discussion it spawned was fruitful. Chair Cathi Wentworth said, as a result of ideas coming out of the retreat, the commission will re-establish and strengthen its partnership with the Office of LGBT Life. Program administration—primarily of the Pride banquet and essay contest, two longtime commission programs—had been eating up a lot of effort, so Wentworth said administration of the banquet will gradually be shifted to LGBT life. The essay contest may eventually fall under the auspices of the newly formed, academically oriented Committee on LGBT Studies.
Chair-elect Paul Towne distributed a handout of commission goals set at the retreat. They fell under four categories: collaboration, advocacy, review and education (acronymed CARE). The 17 bulleted points range from forging tighter relationships with the other president’s commissions to developing an LGBT lecture series on campus, to compiling data on LGBT students’ and employees’ experiences to help improve the climate.
Wentworth then presented a draft revision of the commission bylaws, many of the suggested changes having come from the retreat. While the final vote on the changes, which related to a variety of issues including term limitations and attendance requirements, was tabled until October, they were discussed in depth.
President Jim Wagner kicked off the meeting by offering the commission words of encouragement. A resident of Georgia for only a year, he asked the group to further educate him on the issues regarding the upcoming vote on amending the Georgia constitution to recognize marriage only as a union between a man and a woman.
Some members thought Wagner should come out publicly with a strong stand against the amendment. Bob Ethridge, vice president for equal opportunity programs and the commission’s sponsor, suggested another approach.
“Do what you’ve been doing all along,” he said. “Bring in people who can discuss it. Give [Wagner] some leverage so that he can confront the issue.”
Any further discussions with Wagner on the amendment would be part of a wider effort by the commission to educate the entire Emory community on the issues behind and consequences of the amendment.
In other business, members reported that the commission’s information table during freshman orientation saw more traffic this year than last. Winship Cancer Institute’s Ron Gatlin said some freshmen had been in gay/straight student alliances in high school. “It’s good that we were there and were seen,” Gatlin said. “Some students might look for more information [later].”
Ex officio member Saralyn Chesnut, director of LGBT life, agreed with Gatlin, noting that in her opinion this year’s class had more students out than any previous ones.
The next LGBT meeting will be held Oct. 19 in 400 Administration.—Eric Rangus
For more information about the LGBT commission, e-mail Wentworth at firstname.lastname@example.org.