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April 28, 2008
Themes and initiatives

Strategic plan funding has enhanced and strengthened the major priorities of units, schools and colleges, touching upon virtually every aspect of the University’s mission. This special Emory Report supplement includes selected recent highlights, including an update on the progress of the five themes featured below.

As always, funding for strategic plan initiatives means an investment in the people who embody the University’s vision on a daily basis through their teaching, research, service and patient care. This special report demonstrates the tremendous worth of that investment, both within our community and far beyond.

Strengthening Faculty Distinction

Patton exemplifies outstanding faculty

Laurie Patton, an early co-convenor of the “Religions and the Human Spirit” initiative, has spent her academic leave this year thinking about public scholarship. The Candler Professor of Religions has just completed a new translation of the “Bhagavad Gita.” She is now writing a book about women, Sanskrit and religious identity in India, sponsored by Emory’s Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. A third book is set closer to home. “The Scholar and the Fool” explores case studies of incidents where “well-intentioned liberal scholars of religion offend some members of the communities they study.” As she puts it, “I’m thinking about different kinds of relationships between scholars of religion and their newly configured reading publics.”

Patton used strategic planning funds to organize the first Global Summit in Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding. Also building on new research funded by the strategic plan, she offered a free community class on the relationship between religion and women’s economic empowerment, sponsored by the Atlanta Women’s Foundation.

• CENTER FOR FACULTY DEVELOPMENT AND EXCELLENCE: Emory’s central resources for faculty development will for the first time be united in one place with the establishment of a center that will incorporate University-wide programs in support of research and teaching. A search for a director is under way.

• “A COMMUNITY OF EXCELLENCE: REFLECTIONS AND DIRECTIONS FROM THE YEAR OF THE FACULTY”: Report from the Provost’s Office outlines the issues that will shape the University’s future. Pulled from a series of faculty dialogues, it features analyses, essays and action plans as Emory invests resources to strengthen faculty (http://www.emory.edu/PROVOST/facultydevelopment/index.php).

• COLLABORATIVE HUMANITIES GRANTS: Inaugural program provides increased
support for collaborative research in the humanities. Three projects have been identified for funding. Based on Year of the Faculty feedback, the grants provide an opportunity for scholarship that bridges disciplines.

Preparing Engaged Scholars

Community service spectrum to broaden
Engaged scholarship, learning and service are poised to enter a new era with the completion of a comprehensive plan and a $7 million strategic fund investment. “A Unified Vision for Preparing Engaged Scholars” is the result of a University-wide collaboration led by the Office of University-Community Partnerships, the Provost’s Office and Campus Life. “The vision that emerged from the strategic planning process will provide greater coherence, visibility and impact for Emory’s community engagement activities.

We expect great benefits for Emory faculty and students and for Atlanta metro-area communities,” said OUCP director Michael Rich. To foster stronger connections across Emory’s academic, administrative and service units, the OUCP will move to the Provost’s Office. Key priorities for the strategic theme investment over the next six years will be removing barriers to enable a broader spectrum of Emory faculty and students to participate in engaged scholarship, learning and service activities.

•VOLUNTEER EMORY: The student-run department for volunteerism will greatly expand its service opportunities and help more fully focus students to craft a greater connection between service, scholarship and learning. These opportunities also will be extended to graduate and professional students.

• E-PORTFOLIO: Online e-portfolios will allow students to document and reflect on engaged learning activities as an integral part of their academics, and provide a documented foundation of experience for future careers. An online database will facilitate communication within Emory and with the community, and provide data to assess results of Emory’s community engagement.

• EMORY ADVANTAGE: Emory was among the first schools in the nation to announce a student debt-relief program, furthering the goal to make an Emory education attainable for any qualified student. Emory Advantage provided loan replacement grants for 457 undergraduate students representing an additional
$3.3 million in need-based aid in 2007–08.

Creating Community- Engaging Society

Lifestyle issues drive destination workplace
From commuting to community initiatives, Emory is taking creative approaches to constructing its future as a destination workplace. New developments include exploration of work-life balance integration and a focused initiative to promote commuting to Emory by non-traditional means
In 2007, Emory’s Work-Life Task Force, a group charged with recommending opportunities to retain, attract and sustain a diverse Emory community, completed its recommendations (https://www.admin.emory.edu/StrategicPlan/WorkLife/) and presented them to President Jim Wagner. One recommendation was a Work-Life Resource Center for employees to explore alternative work arrangements, dependent care options and a liaison for faculty work-life integration. A manager for this program is expected to be hired later this year.

EmoryMoves, a new initiative derived from the Excellence Through Leadership Class of 2007, is kicking off to highlight cheaper, sustainable and less stressful commute options and reduce dependence on “one person one car.” Look for more news from EmoryMoves later this year.

•SUSTAINABLITY INITIATIVES: In March, Emory held its first building-wide energy competition to raise awareness and lower consumption. Many buildings now have sustainability representatives to promote energy conservation. A 2007–08 energy audit will ultimately result in energy savings in over 1 million square feet of existing building space.

•DIVERSITY PROGRAMS: The Office of Community and Diversity is dedicated to supporting and enhancing Emory’s commitment to engaged scholarship and courageous inquiry. Several projects and programs increase Emory’s institutional capacity for self-reflection and community building, including the National Coalition Building Institute and the Dialogue & Dinner Program, among others.

•“EMORY IN COMMUNITY”: In the past year, Emory’s offices of Community and Diversity and University-Community Partnerships published “Emory in the Community” (www.emory.edu/emoryinthecommunity), an overview of how faculty, staff and students constructively engage in partnerships benefiting communities throughout Georgia. The Clifton Community Partnership also continues to engage local communities in beneficial partnerships.

Confronting the Human Condition and Human Experience

India is a primary focus of global health institute

It’s not every day the World Health Organization classifies a new disease, but it recently did just that with the co-infection of HIV and tuberculosis. Approximately one-third of the world’s 40 million people with HIV/AIDS are also infected with TB. Of those, 90 percent die within months of contracting TB if not promptly treated.

“India now has the largest number of HIV-infected people in the world, and 5.7 million of them have HIV/TB co-infection,” says Rafi Ahmed, Emory Vaccine Center director and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. In response to this health challenge, the Emory Vaccine Center and the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) have launched the Joint ICGEB-Emory Vaccine Center in New Delhi, India. A primary focus of the Emory Global Health Institute, the center is dedicated to vaccine research focused on HIV/AIDS, TB, hepatitis C, dengue virus, malaria and other infectious diseases that disproportionately affect the developing world.

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama’s October visit to Emory as Presidential Distinguished Professor provided groundbreaking opportunities for learning about peace building across religions and cultures, and about connections between spirituality and science. An Emory delegation traveled to the Drepung Loesling Monastery in India in January for the first of an ongoing series of science presentations to Buddhist monastics.

• RACE AND DIFFERENCE PROJECT: The newly established Vulnerable Populations Project, co-directed by professors Martha Albertson Fineman and Rosemarie Garland Thomas, is a University-wide initiative exploring the legal dimensions of race and difference that will support collaborative research and organize a major conference on vulnerability and state responsibility.

The James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies received a $400,000 Mellon Foundation grant for a visiting scholars program to support three to five visiting faculty beginning this fall. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Emory announced the placement of the SCLC archives at the University, providing invaluable research and teaching materials.

New Frontiers in Science and Technology

Emory Launches Center for Systems Imaging
New radiological imaging techniques hold great promise for identifying disease before health irreversibly deteriorates or before the patient develops symptoms. This potential has led to the newly created Center for Systems Imaging at Emory. According to CSI Strategic Director Carolyn Meltzer, the public health impact that growing technologies will have in terms of enhancing quality of life, health care cost savings, and reducing the burden of caregivers is enormous. “Imaging plays an increasingly vital role in modern clinical medicine.

The ability to examine the structure and function of the human body in the earliest stages of disease can eliminate the need for biopsies and other invasive medical procedures and guide the development of effective new treatments,” says Meltzer. “CSI will serve as a center of excellence for multi-disciplinary research teams comprised of top scientists and clinician investigators to advance novel strategies of disease detection and treatments.”

• NEUROSCIENCE: Neuroscientist Dennis W. Choi, renowned for his groundbreaking research on brain and spinal cord injury, is the new leader of the Neuroscience, Human Nature and Society Initiative and the WHSC Comprehensive Neuroscience Center. Choi will oversee the development of neuroscience education, behavioral neuroscience and cognition, brain therapeutics, and molecular and translational imaging.

• COMPUTATIONAL AND LIFE SCIENCES: Multiple new faculty appointments and an interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellowship program within the CLS initiative are expected to attract exemplary scholars to Emory and to build on strengths that span the physical, biological and health sciences. A Ph.D. program in informatics is entering its second year.

• CENTER FOR HEALTH DISCOVERY AND WELL BEING: Opened in August at the Emory Crawford Long campus. The center currently is enrolling the first 700-patient cohort in a research-based program that will help define health and disease risk, with a focus on maintaining health rather than treating
disease. Learn more at http://www.predictivehealth.emory.edu.