February 6, 2006
University Senate hears update on IT progress
BY michael terrazas
President Jim Wagner opened the Jan. 31 University Senate meeting, held in the Woodruff Library’s Jones Room, by repeating a question he’d posed to Faculty Council a week earlier: How can the University community enhance the value of Emory to its various constituencies.
“I’m worried that we could accomplish all the details of our various plans and still not become the great university we aspire to be,” Wagner said. As an example of what he’s talking about, the president suggested that Emory’s name-recognition in the New York area is quite high—making an Emory degree valuable there—but that value may not be as high in, say, San Francisco. He wondered aloud how the value of the “Emory experience” could be increased not only for graduates but for current students, faculty, staff, patients and all other groups.
In response to a question from psychiatry Professor Nadine Kaslow, Wagner and Executive Vice President Mike Mandl talked about a study of Emory’s Office of Sponsored Programs that has revealed “serious, systemic” problems with the office and how the University signs off on grant proposals, according to Mandl. That study is due to conclude in February, and Mandl said addressing the office’s problems is “probably the administration’s highest operational priority.”
Rich Mendola, vice president for information technology (IT) and chief information officer, updated the Senate on the progress of various IT initiatives. Addition of wireless capability in Emory residence halls should be complete by Feb. 3, he said, and the next phase will add wireless to various Emory Healthcare facilities. On the network side, Mendola said the University has doubled its bandwidth and may go even higher since bandwidth costs have decreased significantly. He said Emory’s new network core is in place, and migration will begin over Spring Break, starting with the academic network.
Mendola’s next big project will be streamlining Emory’s e-mailing capabilities, and he outlined a preliminary strategy that preserves the Learnlink environment so favored by students and many faculty; that provides an enterprise-wide e-mail and scheduling solution for the University’s administrative functions; and that preserves freedom of choice in e-mail clients for faculty.
To provide information about these and other IT projects, as well as a “one-stop shop” for IT services, Mendola said a new, customer-friendly website will soon debut. From the user’s perspective, the site will eliminate the distinction between Network Communications and Academic and Administrative Information Technology, providing a single portal through which Emory community members can get their IT questions answered.
Next, Peggy Barlett presented a draft report prepared by a committee on sustainability she co-chairs with Mandl, and asked Senate members to provide feedback. Sustainability is one of the cross-cutting initiatives identified in the strategic plan, and the committee was charged by Wagner last spring to develop a “sustainability vision” for the University.
Kaslow and Allison Dykes, who co-chair the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, described the commission’s work to the Senate, saying that its current focus is work-life integration. The commission has advocated creating a task force on work-life balance; Wagner agreed and recently appointed University Secretary Rosemary Magee and Vice President for Human Resources Peter Barnes to co-chair such a task force.
In his remarks, Provost Earl Lewis reminded the Senate of the ongoing searches for senior administrative positions and spoke briefly about possible uses for Briarcliff Campus suggested by a committee convened last semester. Lewis said one idea is to establish different functional zones on the property, such as a residential zone, an academic/research zone and even a quiet, “contemplative” zone. Lewis also said Emory should begin to explore ways to connect its various locations into a kind of “continuous campus,” providing easier access to and public transit between all its geographically distinct centers.
The next University Senate meeting will be held Feb. 28 at 3:15 p.m. in the Jones Room.
If you have a question or concern for University Senate, send e-mail to President Michael Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org.