Campus News

March 22, 2010

Going forward: Salary, shuttles move agenda at Employee Town Hall

“I must tell you I feel so much better, so much more excited in March of this year than I felt in March of last year, owing to at least a stabilization of the economic situation,” President Jim Wagner told an in-person and online audience at the Employee Town Hall on March 18.

Speaking at the annual event spearheaded by Employee Council, Wagner was joined by Provost Earl Lewis, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Fred Sanfilippo and Vice President for Finance and Administration Mike Mandl, to discuss “Going Forward: A Strong Institution Adapting to a Challenging Environment.” 

Wagner said it was time to talk about going forward, “not just about preserving what we have but about how do we create possibilities, and pursue our vision in a period of relative scarcity.”

Those resources, he said, had been buffeted by a drop in revenues from the University endowment, more need from students for financial aid and a reduction in revenue to Emory’s hospitals and clinics due to “the way people pay or don’t pay for health care.”

Wagner said the University needs to take stock of its current resource situation and decide how to use them to pursue quality that brings distinction and to renew a call to value imagination and creativity, helping to ensure we have a sense of purpose.

He encouraged employees to ask themselves: “What motivates me to do my job well? Heaven knows it can’t be the pay raise you got last year because we didn’t do that,” he said, drawing a laugh from the audience.

While Wagner noted, “we do have fewer resources than we had two years ago,” he pointed out “some good things have happened,” including increased research funding, a “good chunk” of federal stimulus funds and a boost from Campaign Emory.

“It is time to restore a salary program,” Wagner said in the question-and-answer session. “If we’re really going to pursue quality, we need to recruit, reward and retain the great staff and faculty that we have. And a directive in the planning for FY11 was that we must restore salary program in some form.”

Mandl said the salary program is still being worked on, noting that its final form will reflect the marketplace and the Consumer Price Index, which his office is monitoring through the spring. “It’ll probably be smaller than the years before the downturn,” he said.

Mandl announced that parking fees will not increase this year. In response to transportation program questions, he said the shuttle program, in particular, “has been so successful — actually more successful than anyone ever envisioned — and the demand has gone up so much. There’s a limit to what we can pay for without rethinking can it still be free for everyone.”

Associate Vice President for Transportation Lisa Underwood is putting together an employee-based advisory group to look at dealing with allocating resources for the various alternative transportations, Mandl said. He also noted she was monitoring MARTA’s ongoing financial struggles and how they might impact Emory, adding that Underwood had persuaded the transit authority not to cut one of their routes that ran to campus.

A video of the 2010 Town Hall will soon be posted on the Employee Council Web site.

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