November 7 , 2005
University Senate hopes to improve links to constituents
BY Michael Terrazas
The University Senate began its abbreviated October meeting (held Oct. 25 in Cox Hall and at an earlier time to accommodate President Jim Wagner’s State of the University Address, which immediately followed) by discussing the issue of how elected senators report Senate business back to their constituents.
Senate President Michael Rogers had asked senators to consider ways to better communicate with those who elected them. Some reported no problems actively communicating with their constituents, while others reported very little communication. Ideas to improve communication ranged from using listservs to distribute information to broadcasting Senate meetings on Emory cable television, to holding regular public meetings featuring Wagner or other administrators to talk about Senate business.
Some said the monthly writeups of Senate meetings and those of other governance groups that appear in Emory Report are helpful, but they are passive in character; people must choose to find the ER content and read it. An idea to distribute the ER writeups to Senate members, who could then forward them to their constituents, was well received.
On his remarks, Provost Earl Lewis said the National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences have agreed to assess doctoral programs at a select number of universities, Emory included. Lewis said his counterparts at the Association of American Universities would like to see rankings compiled of Ph.D. programs, but the challenge is to devise a ranking system that would be more than simply a reputational assessment, he said.
Lewis also reported on the Faculty Council project this year to define what “faculty” means at Emory’s schools, and he said searches are ongoing for deans of the graduate, law and theology schools, and for a new director of libraries.
To close the meeting, Leslie Harris from the history department and Gary Hauk from the president’s office reported on the Transforming Community Project (TCP), a five-year effort to study and improve the racial environment at Emory. This semester, Harris said, the project is conducting a series of Community Dialogues to measure how people feel about race at Emory and gather data as the project moves forward.
Hauk, who co-chairs the TCP steering committee with Harris, said curriculum could be a vehicle for change, and one of TCP’s goals is to encourage faculty to incorporate elements of race—and, specifically, race at Emory—into their courses when appropriate.
“Often it’s the stories people tell of their own experiences that are most powerful,” said Saralyn Chesnut, director of the Office of LGBT Life and co-facilitator of one of the Community Dialogue groups. “It’s a way to talk not just on an intellectual level about race.”
The next Senate meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 3:15 p.m. in the Jones Room of Woodruff Library.
If you have a question or comment for the University Senate, send e-mail to President Michael Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org.