Emory Report
January 30, 2006
Volume 58, Number 17


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January 30, 2006
Faculty council hears sustainability draft report, recommendations

BY michael terrazas

Opening up the Jan. 24 Faculty Council meeting, held in 400 Administration, was a discussion of a draft report prepared by the committee on sustainability being co-chaired by Peggy Barlett, professor of anthropology, and Mike Mandl, executive vice president for finance and administration.

Sustainability is one of the cross-cutting initiatives identified under the “Creating Community—Engaging Society” theme of Emory’s strategic plan, and the committee has been working since last spring to create a sustainability vision for the University. The group’s report (now in its 11th draft) begins by defining sustainable development as that which “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” and Barlett asked the council to provide feedback on the document’s many recommendations.

Among those recommendations are such goals and ideas as:
reducing per-capita energy consumption on campus by 25 percent;
recycling 65 percent of Emory’s waste stream (and 100 percent of electronics waste and road construction materials);
removing all invasive plant species from Emory’s forested areas;
procuring 75 percent of ingredients for campus dining facilities from local or sustainably grown sources; and
establishing a University farmer’s market featuring locally grown and sustainably produced foods.

Working on a 10-year time horizon, the report does include some “stretch goals,” Barlett admitted, and she said the committee was asked specifically not to consider cost in its recommendations, which surely factored into some of its more ambitious plans. Still, Barlett said, other organizations’ success in changing behaviors for the better, environmentally speaking, lead her to believe Emory can clear the hurdles it sets for itself, even the high ones.

“A lot of these goals put us in line with our peers and in some cases ahead of them,” she said. “The impact of this vision could be felt by communities beyond the immediate.”

Next, the council unanimously approved a motion to create an ad hoc committee charged with preparing a roster of 15 prospective faculty counselors to the Board of Trustees. In November, the council approved an annual nomination process that rotates two or three of the seven counselors through staggered three-year terms. The process calls for Faculty Council to submit a pool of prospective counselors to the board, which will make the final selections.

Recognizing that time is short to prepare such a pool by the end of the academic year, the council charged this ad hoc committee with preparing a roster for council approval no later than April.

Closing the meeting was an open, wide-ranging discussion that flowed from remarks by President Jim Wagner and Provost Earl Lewis. Wagner asked council members to provide suggestions of possible indicators or benchmarks by which to measure how Emory is enhancing its “value” to various constituencies. For example, the president said, how could the University measure gains in the value of an Emory degree for its alumni? Or gains in the value of the “Emory experience” for students? Or in its scholarly environment for faculty?

Wagner’s comments led to a discussion of concerns about changes to employee health plans for 2006. Council members said they’ve heard reports from colleagues who’d selected certain plans believing it would allow them to keep their own doctors, but later found out those doctors now are considered out-of-network. Explanations of the different plans available for 2006, including the list of in-network physicians, were insufficient, council members said.

The president pledged to examine whether it’s possible to hold a second Open Enrollment period this spring to allow people to switch plans. He also said he would investigate concerns about certain plans’ $1 million cap on lifetime health expenditures, and check on whether faculty are represented on the University’s benefits steering committee (such representation was a recommendation of last year’s Benefits Review Committee).

Lewis invited council members to participate in this semester’s six-part seminar series, which will examine and develop the six academic cross-cutting initiatives of the strategic plan.

The next Faculty Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 3:15 p.m. in 400 Administration.

If you have a question or concern for Faculty Council, e-mail Chair Michael Rogers at