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(or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Letters to the Editor
Click on the above link to let us know what you think or send email to email@example.com)!
Contact Other Members
Find other members to get together for shared interests, whether it is forming a book club or a photography club, or getting together to take a hike. Send email to the following link to contact member who would like the same activity!
If you would like to
find out about a travel destination or find other EUEC members who would like to travel with you, send an email to:
If you would like to find other EUEC members interested in taking a MOOC together, an OLLI course together, or possibly teaching together in an OLLI course, click on the following link to send an email:
Click on the link below to register for the next Lunch Colloquium on Monday March 16 at 11:50 am. (Note later time)
March 16 Colloquium
Sheth Distinguished Lecture
The Sheth Lecture on Creativity in Later Life
will be given on Wednesday, April 8 from 11:30-1:00 p.m. in Governors Hall by our own Brenda Bynum. Register using the link below (note that lunch is provided for all attendees thanks to the generosity of the Sheths).
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This issue of our newsletter is sent to members and friends of the Emory University Emeritus College (EUEC). I hope the newsletter will help keep you informed about our activities and help you feel connected with our members throughout the U.S. On the left are links to our website and links to contact either me or the EUEC office.
With best wishes,
Gray F. Crouse
Message from the Director
There is a lot in this issue, and I hope you will have time to read it. We all owe a big debt of gratitude to Gretchen Schulz and Al Padwa for the astounding job they are doing in securing speakers for our Lunch Colloquium. The next speaker is Allan Levey--note the later start time; he is chairing a meeting just before he comes to us, which is an indication of how busy he is. I expect a full house for his talk, so register early if you can. Thanks to Bee Nahmias and Irene Morin, we have reports on our two most recent talks, so you can get some idea of what you missed. Please note the request for participation in one of Nanette's research studies. If you are >75 and have any cardiovascular issues, she would like for you to participate in a telephone survey.
The Emory Alumni Association is starting a speakers bureau. You can read about this initiative and let our office know if you are interested--this is something that our members, no matter where they are, could possibly participate in. There is also information from the Faculty Council and the University Senate, an invitation for a seminar with reflections of an Emory Aging Expert, and notice of a concert in which one of our members is participating. There is also a message from EUEC member Peter Dowell--many of us know Peter, and I encourage you to read his message and send him greetings and wishes. Note, however, that it is somewhat difficult for him to respond to emails, so do keep that in mind.
Our annual Sheth Distinguished Lecture is coming up on April 8 and will be given by our own Brenda Bynum. You can register at the link on the left. There will be more information on the lecture in the next issue. Also note that retired faculty are invited to march in the May Commencement ceremony. Details for registering to march are given below.
I am very grateful to Herb Benario, Gretchen Schulz, and John Bugge for help with proofing and editing.
March 16 Lunch Colloquium
It is with great pleasure that we invite you to our next Lunch Colloquium to hear Allan Levey, the Betty Gage Holland Professor and Chair, Department of Neurology, and Director, Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center
. Allan's talk is entitled: Healthy Brain Aging: Retired Faculty and Their Faculties
. Please note the later start time for this Colloquium.
The Luce Center, Room 130, 11:50-1:30
Click here to read more about Allan Levey and his talk
March 2 Lunch Colloquium
Our March 2 Lunch Colloquium featured Bridgette Young Ross, the new (as of last July) Dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life. Thanks to EUEC member Irene Morin, you can read about her talk on "building bridges."
For Irene's report, click here
February 16 Lunch Colloquium
Our Lunch Colloquium on February 16 featured our own Nanette Wenger on the topic of women's heart health. Thanks to Bee Nahmias those of you who were not able to attend can find out what she had to say.
Would you like to help Nanette Wenger?
I think that all of us who heard EUEC member Nanette Wenger were enormously impressed by her knowledge of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Among her many current studies is one aimed at evaluating a survey for those >75 who have any type of CVD. She is requesting EUEC volunteers to help in this study. All that is required is to have a phone conversation with one of her researchers, meaning that any of our members, no matter where they live, could participate. If you are interested, click on the link below to find out more about this study.
Emory Speakers Bureau
I hope many of you will be interested in the Emory Speakers Bureau. Click on the link below to read Leslie Wingate's invitation and let the EUEC office know of your interest.
Jim Keller is the voting representative of EUEC to both the Faculty Council and University Senate. You can read short summaries of the latest meetings of each by clicking Council Concerns and Senate Summary. Of particular note from the Faculty Council is that the creation of a Standing Committee on Faculty Dispute Resolution was unanimously approved.
Message from Peter Dowell
Many of you know EUEC member Peter Dowell. Below is a message from him and an email address for contact.
Life of the Mind Seminar
There is a seminar in the Life of the Mind series on March 25 that should be of interest to many members. Following the seminar will be a Faculty Salon with the Provost.
If you have a suggestion of an activity that you think other members would enjoy, let us know. Click below to see what John Juricek suggests.
The University in Crisis
The EUEC members who participated in last fall's Interdisciplinary Seminar on the topic of The University in Crisis
have compiled a report of their discussions. In this issue, we feature a third part of their report. For the first three parts, please see Issues 12, 13 and 14.
Commencement, Monday, May 11, 2015
Although you might not have taught any of the graduating students, a good faculty turnout for the main ceremony looks good for the audience. Also note that Salman Rushdie is the Commencement speaker this year. Read Michael Koss's invitation below:
As always, we wish to extend the invitation to march and sit with the faculty to the emeritus faculty members. If you would, please share the registration link and directions below with any emeritus faculty member wishing to march.
Dear Faculty Members,
The registration site for faculty Commencement participation is now open: http://tinyurl.com/emory-faculty-commencement
If you plan to march in the all-schools Quadrangle ceremony and sit on the faculty risers on Monday May 11, please take a moment to register. We need an accurate count in order to set up the correct number of chairs on the risers. If you are not able to march this year, or are only participating in the PhD hooding ceremony, you do not need to fill out the form or notify us. This is an "accepts only" registration system for the main faculty risers on the Quadrangle. For those participating in Ph.D. hooding activities, you will march and sit with your degree candidate and therefore do not need to register for the faculty risers. See the Laney Graduate School Commencement website for more details about the hooding process when available: http://www.gs.emory.edu/academics/policies/commencement.html
If you do not have your own regalia, please contact the bookstore as soon as possible but no later than March 31 to order your regalia.
Office of University Events
March 16 Lunch Colloquium
Healthy Brain Aging: Retired Faculty and Their Faculties
ALLAN LEVEY, Betty Gage Holland Professor and Chair, Department of Neurology, and Director, Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center
Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology here at Emory and Director of the Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Allan Levey is internationally recognized for his work in neurodegenerative disease. His work has contributed to understanding the brain systems and mechanisms involved in neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases and in identifying molecular targets for new therapeutic strategies. But he is as knowledgeable about healthy brain aging as unhealthy brain aging, and he is going to share his insights on that subject with our attendees, older folks still sharp enough to appreciate what he's got to say--and appreciate it all the more if it can help us stay that way.
From the Emory website:
Dr. Levey received a BS from the University of Michigan and an MD and PhD (Immunology) from the University of Chicago. He then trained in Neurology at Johns Hopkins and molecular biology at the National Institutes of Health, and then joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in the Departments of Neurology & Pathology. Dr. Levey has been at Emory University since 1991, where he has held a number of positions, including Director of Graduate Studies for the Neuroscience PhD Program, Founding Director of the Emory Center for Neurodegenerative Disease, and Director of the Emory MD/PhD Training Program.
Dr. Levey is a neurologist and neuroscientist internationally recognized for his work in neurodegenerative disease. He has more than 270 research publications. His work has contributed to understanding the brain systems and mechanisms involved in neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases and in identifying molecular targets for new therapeutic strategies. He has received several awards including the Derek Denny-Brown Neurological Scholar Award from the American Neurological Association, the Heikkila Research Scholar Award from the National Parkinson Foundation, the Health Advancement Research Award from Community Health Charities, the Team Hope Award for Medical Leadership from the Huntington's Disease Society of America, and he was inducted into the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars. Dr. Levey was also named an ISI Highly Cited Researcher in the field of Neuroscience and has consistently been listed as one of the Best Doctors in America.
Read the recent Emory News article announcing a $25 million donation to the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center from the Goizueta Foundation by clicking here
to see a short video of Allan describing the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center
March 2 Lunch Colloquium
BRIDGING THE GAP:
BUILDING COMMUNITY IN THE MIDST OF DIFFERENCES
Co-sponsored by the Women's Center, the EUEC March 2nd Lunch Colloquium "Bridging the Gap: Building Community in the Midst of Differences" featured Reverend Bridgette Young Ross, Dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life at Emory. For many attending that day, it was a time of warm feelings and hugs in honor of Bridgette's return to Emory. From 2000 to 2009, she served here as the Senior Associate Dean of the Chapel and Religious Life.
Bridgette introduced herself as doubly excited about coming back to Emory which felt like "being back home" as well as empowered for having been chosen for the position from a field of 130 applicants. In speaking of her background and how it related to the topic of the day, "Building Community in the Midst of Differences," she revealed that in every job she had had in her career, she had been the first African American female in the role. She then embodied difference for others to adapt to, as well as learning how to bridge the physical and cultural gap she faced in reaching the people she had to work with.
From describing that kind of challenge she faced over and over again, she moved into describing what it meant to become responsible for the Chapel and Spiritual Life at Emory. She quoted - as a basic fact of her new role - the results of a Pew Research study that dealt with young people of ages 18 to 30 and their relationship to mainstream religious traditions. A third of the group surveyed replied "none of the above" to that question. Bridgette takes this result seriously. A large percentage of college-age persons form a block of difference from the past and are labeled "the nones." How to reach them, even learn from them in their difference, has become the challenge of the work that is now her passion and her vocation to ministry.
Next she demonstrated an important technique she learned from a minister colleague. She stood still, smiling and silent, for a few minutes, her eyes surveying the whole room, making eye contact with as many people as she could. "It's good to see you," she said loudly, breaking the silence. With that gesture, she described the importance of connecting with the people around her and their connecting with her. "It is only through interaction," she said, "that community evolves."
In her role as the Dean of the Chapel and the Office of Spiritual Life at Emory University, Bridgette has a staff of eight who serve the five main religious traditions: Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim. In addition to the 33% of undergraduate freshmen "nones," there are many students, faculty, and staff who self-identify as spiritual but not religious. That can mean different things to different people. Through strengthening Emory's vibrant interfaith dynamics, preaching, and providing leadership on ethical issues, Rev. Bridgette and others, through the Office of Spiritual Life, engage students, faculty, and staff in the spiritual questions of these disparate groups. The numbers alone present a huge challenge to understanding and developing respect for each other's differences in this unprecedented diversity of worldviews as well as developing sensitivity concerning values and what is important to others.
Rev. Bridgette Young Ross is an ordained United Methodist minister who has a background that explains her ability to transform religious differences of all kinds into basic human connectivity. The roots of her own faith are firmly ecumenical. Born in Chicago, she was raised in a Baptist family and attended Catholic schools. "It's fair to say," she says, "that I always had spiritual yearnings and felt drawn to God in some way."
However, in her search for a career direction, she earned first a Bachelor's degree in management and marketing from Illinois Institute of Technology followed by an MBA degree from the University of North Carolina. These degrees provided her the opportunity to gain extensive experience in the corporate world.
As her spiritual yearnings became more dominant, Bridgette moved toward the ministry by obtaining a M. Divinity degree from Gammon Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. She has served as associate pastor for administration as well as associate minister for congregational care at local churches. From 1998 to 2000, she was Methodist Campus Minister at the Georgia Institute of Technology. As noted earlier, she then served nine years as Senior Associate Dean of the Chapel and Religious Life at Emory before moving north to serve five years as the Assistant General Secretary for Collegiate Ministries for the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry before we enticed her back to our midst in the summer of 2014.
Rev. Bridgette Young Ross shared with us a short tape of her installation as Dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life at Emory. True to the mission of her new role, she included interdenominational rituals in the ceremony, one of which involved liturgical Hindu dance.
She raised questions with us. What is a community? What does it look like? In the University setting, she has to deal with persons of many different backgrounds and beliefs. To create a community with them, she uses the analogy of forming a choral group. Different voices can sing in harmony, or they can produce cacophony. She offered a personal example from a time early in her ministry when the bishop sent her to a place where she was different in skin color, socio-economic status, political values, and commitment. She learned that before the goal of community could emerge, there had to be trust built between her and the people.
Next, she talked about differences as they relate to leadership. Many persons have rigid opinions and question "is this what a leader looks like?" One of her slides depicting diversity in leadership showed a student, one whom she saw as a leader, whose primary social identity was that of a guitar player. Others also didn't meet gender or other expectations for the traditional title "leader," but were actually leaders in their actions. One of the ways that Bridgette and her staff set the conditions for differences in leadership to emerge and be worked through is to hold meetings around a table at which there is never a place identified as the head of the table, and therefore reserved for the leader of the meeting. Meetings of this type are held twice a month in many locations on campus and meant to serve all students. In these settings, staff, students and faculty work together on goals such as identifying the difference between freedom of expression and hate speech in order to build trust in and respect for differences, of which there are many on a campus of 7000 undergraduates and 5000 graduate students.
One of the big challenges in carrying out the function of the Office of Spiritual Life at Emory is presented by persons changing their self-identification from religious to spiritual. The feedback that Bridgette receives is that spirituality is everywhere on campus and religion occurs in a specific place. In response to the expressed need for places for spirituality, good meditation spots have been identified and located on campus grounds and "quiet rooms" such as the one in the Rollins School of Public Health have begun to appear. There is also a minority of students who self-identify as "atheist" and are not rebelling against their parents religion, but are serious in the search for answers to their questions. They are accommodated through programming encouraging the study of philosophy books. What can unite all the students of diverse backgrounds are involvement in missions of mercy, such as soup kitchens, and pursuit of projects related to justice for all.
For many interested in "Bridging the Gap and Building Community in the Midst of Differences," the challenge becomes "How do I embrace all religious traditions and stay with my own when that is my choice?" In answer to this question, Bridgette offered three new questions for the audience to discuss among themselves: 1) What are the types of differences among those in your personal and individual circles? 2) What are the challenges in staying in positive relationships? 3) What skills do you have to stay in relationship? At the end of the discussion period, the observation of one participant (among some retired faculty and staff) was that "As I get older, more and more my circles are of like-minded people. I have weeded out those with whom I disagree." Of course, some of us try to counter the tendency to withdrawal from otherness and avoidance of difference. Many of us still enjoy the challenges of diversity that outreach to communities beyond those most familiar to us entails. And Bridgette reminded us that, in our engagement with such communities, we must do our best to "hold in tension authenticity and sensitivity." Her model can certainly help us (and all others at Emory) do so.
Welcome home, Bridgette, to help us all "Bridg[e] the Gap and Build Community in the Midst of Differences" at Emory and in the whole of the world we inhabit.
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February 16 Lunch Colloquium
Dr. Nanette Wenger's presentation on February 16th, 2015, was an eye-opener for all of us, even medical professionals. She gave it the catchy title "Matters of the Heart: Why Can't a Woman Be More Like a Man?"
Dr. Wenger's illustrious career was summarized by Gray Crouse in his introduction. Suffice it to say that she played a major part in improving the awareness, treatment and prevention of CVD (cardio-vascular disease) in women. Fifty years ago, it was considered "a man's disease"; now we have learned that it is the number one killer of women in the U.S., accounting for 38% of all deaths in women. That is a mortality rate greater than not only breast cancer, but all cancers combined.
The management of CVD in men has produced a dramatic fall in mortality, half due to prevention and half to treatment. In women, improvement is lagging far behind. Women have different risk factors and different presentations and different consequences. Since the aim of today's medicine is to provide "personalized care," we must all become acquainted with these differences--women, their families and their doctors.
In women aged 35-54 mortality from CVD increases 1%/year. Why? It has been demonstrated that a sedentary life and obesity are associated with the disease.
African-American women develop HT (hypertension/high blood pressure) earlier in life and have metabolic syndrome, a precursor of type 2 diabetes more often. Why?
Strangely, Hispanic women develop twice as much diabetes, but have lower mortality and longer life expectancy than African-Americans and Caucasians. Why?
Here are some facts relating uniquely to women:
PREGNANCY - Complications during pregnancy, like hypertension, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and pre-term delivery, all predict increased CVD later in life. Therefore, such history must always be elicited and mentioned.
ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES - There is no increased risk in healthy women, BUT in smokers there is a 7-times increased risk of hypertension and a 1.4-2 times greater risk of stroke, which increases with age.
HORMONAL FERTILITY THERAPY- In a Canadian study it was found that there is a decreased risk of mortality, cardiac ischemia, and stroke in women whose treatment was successful. Why? Perhaps because these were healthy women.
MENOPAUSAL HORMONE THERAPY- Emory was involved in studies that found, despite the initial claims of wonderful effects of more youthful skin, longer and better lives, better sex, and stronger bodies, that actually such treatment caused an increased number of strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots. It is no longer recommended, even for osteoporosis.
SYSTEMIC AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES: These diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus) affect women more often than men, and most of these women will die of cardio-vascular disease or stroke. Therefore, they need screening and prevention.
Here are some facts we know regarding women:
They have less hypertension when young than men, but more when older than 65. Only 30% have adequate treatment.
Smoking triples the risk for CVD in women, and smoking cessation is the best advice, but women have less success with this than men and 17% of U.S. women still smoke.
Diabetes type 2 (onset later in life) doubles the risk for heart attack in women, and there has been little success in management. At Grady Hospital there's a trial that involves giving such patients a smart phone with an app for blood pressure, sugar, FitBit, etc.
High blood cholesterol is one of the highest risks for CVD. Statins work best as treatment. There are no data for persons over the age of 65. More studies are needed.
SOME ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS FROM OUR AUDIENCE:
Genetic variants/mutations? Yes, particularly in regard to cholesterol.
Alcohol intake? The results of better health in women with one drink/day and men with two probably relate more to lifestyle than the alcohol.
Functional studies? A plain treadmill test is best. Thallium studies are used for those who can't do the regular treadmill test.
Obesity? Two out of 3 women in the U.S. are obese. This is associated with decreased physical activity, increased BP, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemias.
Physical inactivity? 33% of women and 30% of men are too inactive and 25% have no real physical activity at all. Correcting this is very protective and very inexpensive.
Depression? It is associated with 1.64% more CVD mortality. Women have more stress and depression associated with work, home, finances, violence, etc.
Aspirin? One should take one 325 mg tab with heart attack or stroke. As prevention, one 81 mg tab helps prevent stroke in women, but not heart attack. In men over age 40 it helps prevent heart attack. Both have an equal risk of GI bleeding.
High Blood Pressure? People need to know that the systolic pressure matters more.
The Future? Only about half of women recognize that heart disease is their leading cause of death. We need more GO RED campaigning and physician education. We also need studies in women over age 65. And we need to recognize that heart disease is increasing in developing countries, probably because we're exporting fatty food, smoking, and a low-exercise lifestyle.
--Brigitte (Bee) Nahmias, M.D.
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Facilitating Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment in Older Adults with Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
Dear Dr Crouse,
On behalf of Dr Wenger, I am contacting you to invite you and the honorable members of the Emory University Emeritus College for participation in a very valuable and exciting research project supported by the American College of Cardiology (ACC). In this on-going project, called Facilitating Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment in Older Adults with Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), we are embarking to highlight the importance of a comprehensive assessment of cardiac and non-cardiac status of older adults in making sound clinical judgments and decisions. In fact, we believe that for any patient and more so for older adults that may suffer from more than one medical condition, a comprehensive assessment is needed to determine the best course of treatment plans. This project applies to any one >75 years old with any CVD including but not limited to hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease, arrhythmias (atrial fibrillation, ...), etc.
The assessment is based on an on-line questionnaire called ClinCARE (http://geriatric-cardiology.org/) that has been used previously in several trials. Now by performing a project, ACC is interested to test this tool for variety of CVD in patients older than 75.
All we need from each person who qualifies is to participate in a phone conversation that usually lasts for about 30 minutes. In this conversation, a cardiology fellow will ask the questions in the survey which includes different functional and medical assessment domains. At the end of the survey the fellow will provides feedbacks on the domains that may warrant further medical evaluation as well as some useful recommendations that can be applied by the patient or family.
So far, we have received good feedbacks from the participants and they were very satisfied with the conversations. I am hopeful that the members of the Emeritus College will like such conversations and find them useful. As we are all striving to advance medical care and considering the increasing number of older adults that we care for, projects like this one can help to define better standard of care for older adults.
I will appreciate if you can forward this request to the members of the Emeritus College and anyone who is interested to participate can send an email to me or call me and provide their contact information and the best possible times to receive the call for the survey. Also, we will need a signed consent form that is available by clicking here. The signed form can be scanned and sent in to my email, faxed to Dr Wenger's office at (404) 616-3093, or mailed to Dr Wenger's office at the following address:
Nanette K. Wenger, M.D.
Grady Memorial Hospital, Glenn Bldg E278
49 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive, SE
Atlanta, GA 30303
Thank you in advance for your interest and time. I will be happy to answer any question(s) that you or the members of the college may have.
Farshad Forouzandeh, MD, PhD
Cardiology Fellow, PGY-6
Emory University School of Medicine
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The University in Crisis
Emory University Emeritus College
The University in Crisis
January 8, 2015
TRADITIONAL LIBERAL EDUCATION AND ITS VALUES UNDER THREAT
While James Flannery saw an institutionalized presence for the fine arts bridging the gaps between disciplines and thereby helping to bring into being intellectual community, Gretchen Schulz, Professor of English Emerita in Oxford College of Emory University, led a seminar session devoted to the ideal of interdisciplinary higher education itself. She is well qualified to provide direction on the topic as a long-time member of the Board of Trustees of the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, co-editor of Issues in Interdisciplinary Studies, the premier peer-reviewed journal on the subject, and creator/administrator of the section of the Association website devoted to SOITL (Scholarship of Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning).
The readings she proposed (chosen from the burgeoning scholarly literature on the subject) were both theoretical and practical, making the case in cognitive theory for interdisciplinary approaches to the complex issues that characterize our lives today and providing examples of successful programs at American universities and universities elsewhere in the world, as well--programs (for undergraduates and graduates alike) whose success in preparing students to use such approaches can now be said to be effectively attested with well-developed assessment procedures. Evidence from real-world pursuit of solutions to complicated problems (like those in the realms of public health and sustainability) makes plain that those with training in multiple disciplines--and, at least as important, in how to integrate insights from multiple disciplines--have the best chance at producing the best outcomes. Schulz emphasized that training is key--especially training in integration such as programs in proper, full-fledged interdisciplinarity provide. The liberal education in which interdisciplinarians also believe must do more than merely expose students to a variety of disciplines. Even in-depth study of multiple disciplines isn't enough to ensure that students can use that knowledge to best advantage. We cannot simply assume that they will eventually manage to integrate the disparate content of their many courses entirely on their own, in a supra-curricular act of intellectual synthesis, much less be able to do so in whatever work they pursue after graduation.
The skill of integration (described as the newest and perhaps most necessary "liberal art" by Carol Geary Schneider, speaking for the Association of American Colleges and Universities) is a skill that has to be (ought to be) taught--and it's taught effectively (perhaps most effectively) in interdisciplinary coursework. Students need to be made consciously aware of what they are doing heuristically when approaching a complex topic from an interdisciplinary perspective: identifying relevant disciplines, developing necessary knowledge in those disciplines, deriving applicable insights from each, and integrating those insights into a whole that promises a productive resolution to complexities. And it's in properly envisioned and implemented interdisciplinary programming (at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels) that such instruction (and related hands-on experience, preferably in research projects involving these processes) occurs.
Schulz pointed out that Emory's record on interdisciplinarity is shaky, exemplified in its 2010 decision to close down the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts, which for many years was one of the two longest-standing interdisciplinary graduate programs in the nation (the other being the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago). And this after the chapter touting Emory's support of interdisciplinary studies that Peter Wakefield (Director of Undergraduate IDS) had published in The Politics of Interdisciplinary Studies in 2009, a chapter Schulz had the members of our seminar read. Thankfully, Wakefield's good understanding of the best sort of interdisciplinary programming for undergraduates has enabled him to build Emory's undergraduate offerings in this area until they are more than respectable. However, he has not been able to build enrollment much at all. It is disturbing that in this time when there is something like consensus on the value of interdisciplinarity--and when Emory itself keeps insisting that it supports interdisciplinarity (as in the recent document from the Commission of the Liberal Arts)--fewer than half a percent of Emory's undergraduates (32 students, according to a recent conversation with Wakefield) are majoring in IDS (or in American Studies, also an IDS program). Fewer than half a percent!
Schulz did note with approval plans to somehow re-constitute the ILA and cited Dean of Arts and Sciences Robin Forman's recent announcement of the funding of a few Interdisciplinary Faculty Fellowships that will involve those faculty working under the aegis of the new ILA. But she pointed out that, while this is indeed promising, it hardly fulfills the need for programming that might give more Emory students (undergraduates or graduates) a good grounding in interdisciplinarity. For one thing, the focus is on interdisciplinary research performed by faculty members. Yes, they are invited to involve students in their projects, if they'd like, and that's a good thing in its own right, but work on a project is different than work on interdisciplinarity itself, work that might enable students to become good interdisciplinarians with skills in the processes that could make them productive contributors to projects of many kinds. And yes, the faculty recipients of these Fellowships are asked to teach two courses, of some kind, in the three-year term of their fellowships. But again, examples offered make those courses seem quite other than courses in interdisciplinarity. They seem rather like courses primarily intended to advance the research agenda of the faculty member(s) involved--and of the University, of course.
If this is Emory's idea of programming that will prepare more students to function in a world where the skills of the interdisciplinarian are more necessary than ever, then it seems (in Schulz's view) decidedly inadequate to the task. She hopes ideas more supportive of education--liberal education--that will close the rather embarrassing gap between the rhetoric and the reality of interdisciplinarity at Emory will soon emerge. And she hopes those generating and implementing such ideas will immerse themselves in the considerable body of relevant literature now available, inquire into the particulars of interdisciplinary programs at other institutions, and consult with the experts available (as, for example, the consultants accredited by the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies). After all, the oft iterated desire for Emory to be "innovative" shouldn't lead us to ignore the hard-earned wisdom of the many who have now gone before us in this all-important realm.
THE UNIVERSITY'S CHANGING ROLE IN RELATION TO STUDENTS
Three different seminar presentations spoke to a broad concern over whether American colleges and universities are managing to fulfill their responsibilities toward students - in the first instance toward their own undergraduate students; in the second, toward graduate students (in this case, in schools of nursing); and finally toward the nation's K-12 students, who have aspirations to become the college students of tomorrow.
Universities and Their Responsibilities to Students
In the very last seminar in the semester, Viola Westbrook, Professor Emerita of German Studies, focused on the complicated, contradictory, and sometimes tortured relationship between colleges and their students. Today in loco parentis is no longer, as in generations past, the way college administrations regard themselves vis-à-vis their students; instead students have become the clients, and potential liabilities, of a business called the university. Meanwhile today's students consider themselves as almost wholly emancipated from the authority of the institution. This juxtaposition has led to many very dangerous situations and serious injuries in recent years, which have now caused administrations to make "student safety their first priority," as Peter Lake puts it in one of the selections from his important book, The Rights and Responsibilities of the Modern University: The Rise of the Facilitator University. 2nd edition (Carolina Academic Press. 2013).
A good illustration of the problematic effects of these changed attitudes was found in Catlin Flanagan's disturbing essay about a campus-rape case, "The Dark Power of Fraternities," from Atlantic Magazine (February 19, 2014). It allowed a closer look not only at the "dark side" of college life, but also, and more specifically, at the complex power and money entanglements of fraternities and college administrations in which the victims seeking justice are all too frequently the losers.
We learned that the "risks" of college life for students (and here our discussion concerned undergraduate students almost exclusively) tend to group themselves under four headings, ranging from the least to the most prevalent: the risk of criminal attack; the risks embodied in mental-health issues, including suicidal depression; the risk of sexual assault; and the almost omnipresent risk of succumbing to, or being victimized by, alcohol abuse.
Most of our discussion centered on the causal connection between the last two - on how the culture of alcohol abuse on college campuses, especially in fraternity houses, too often leads to sexual assault. And whereas the problem of sexual assault on college campuses has gained widespread public awareness and resulted in an intense national discussion about effective measures to deal with the issue, attacking the problem of alcohol abuse is a lot more vexing. Westbrook summed up her appraisal of the situation, especially in relation to the occurrence of these problems at Emory:
While Emory can't really change our general culture of violence in the United States, at least it does seem the University is doing a creditable job trying to stem the tide of sexual assaults on campus (Emory Magazine, Summer, 2014). In addition, as irresponsible alcohol consumption appears to be the underlying cause for most of the injuries and violence occurring on campus, Emory's most recently issued clear and strongly worded policy against illegal or excessive use of alcohol while on campus reflects a welcome effort on the part of the University. The policy also states that anyone found in violation of that policy would face swift and severe punitive consequences, including possible expulsion from the University. This policy is circulated throughout the Emory community. It should be made known expressly to all incoming freshmen and to all local Greek and other social organizations on campus.
Finally, analogous to action supporting Emory's anti-smoking campaign, and to drive home the importance of the illegal alcohol consumption message, perhaps signs reflecting Emory's policy could be posted all around Emory with the same frequency as those declaring the University a smoke-free campus!
As a sidebar to our discussion of alcohol abuse, we also strayed into talking about the reputation that some American universities have earned for themselves as essentially "party schools," where the academic demands placed upon students are so minimal that they allow ample time to engage in all manner of extracurricular loutishness and degrading behavior. No one suggested Emory falls into the category of university-as-playpen- for-spoiled-rich-kids, but Westbrook wondered aloud (even in the face of the recent announcement of a planned expansion of the Dobbs University Center) "if we couldn't - and shouldn't - recommend that Emory University slow the expansion of its extensive campus-life programs, lest its reputation become something other than that of the serious research institution Emory wants to be."
It was agreed that most faculty have little experience dealing with how students comport themselves outside the classroom, and likely even less interest, preferring to let the administrative staff set policies and handle cases of misconduct. We think this is an abdication of their responsibility, however; it is an institution's faculty who are ultimately responsible for creating an overarching ethos of serious scholarship and learning. They have been wrong in simply ceding their authority in this regard to a "campus life" agency whose charge is too often regarded as completely disconnected from the academic purposes of a university.
Faculty could partially redress this situation by ensuring that all courses demand a substantial time- commitment outside class, thus impressing upon students that a college education needs to be seen more like a full-time job. (The 2014 National Survey of Student Engagement documents that, on average, American college students spend little more than fourteen hours a week - just two hours a day - working on their courses outside class.)
In addition, it was suggested that faculty become involved in the admissions process once again (as they were a generation or more ago); the assumption was that they might be more likely to identify and admit students of a more serious mien.
Finally, in part because Westbrook and others have had experience as students at foreign universities, it was observed that one problem American universities make for themselves is admitting too many students who are actually still too immature for college - whose pre-frontal cortices are just beginning to evolve toward their final contours. Several members of the seminar were attracted to the idea of building in a bias toward age and life-experience in the admission of freshman students; they recalled that G.I. Bill veterans returning from World War II helped produce one of the great periods of American higher education.
In general, our conclusion was that Emory might take even more pains than at present to admit only those students who seem already on their way toward intellectual and moral maturation, and that, once those students are enrolled, Emory, both its faculty and administration, need to be more vigilant in holding them to the highest standards.
To be continued...
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Life of the Mind:
Lessons My Parents Taught Me: An Emory Aging Expert Reflects
THEODORE JOHNSON II, professor of medicine and epidemiology, chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, and director of the Emory Center for Health in Aging, will discuss ongoing research on sustaining function and quality-of-life experiences as people age. The talk will be Wednesday, March 25 from 4:00-5:00 in the Jones Room of Woodruff Library. A Faculty Salon will follow at 5:00 p.m. Among his topics: general aging, frailty, decision making around aggressive medical care, and technology as a tool for seniors. Those of you who came to the October 6 Lunch Colloquium will remember Ted Johnson. Here is a great opportunity to hear him again on a different subject.
Message from Peter Dowell
Peter Dowell retired in 2003 after 40 years as an English Professor, the last 15 of which he spent as Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs in the College. In that capacity he was known by all College faculty, as well as many faculty outside the College. He sends the following message to his friends:
Greetings dear friends and family,
My father asked me to type this from his account as his typing skills have waned in recent weeks. He asked me to let you know all know that, in addition to some of the other medical issues he has been battling, he has recently been diagnosed with advanced cancer. He is currently living in our home in Dallas with nursing and hospice care. He remains alert and his spirit is strong. He is still reading (emails and his Kindle), though responding to emails is somewhat laborious. He specifically asked me to impart a final word of thanks for your caring friendship. Please keep him (and us) in your thoughts and prayers.
Jonathan Dowell (for Peter Dowell)
Members SuggestEvent: Theodora by George Frideric Handel, 60th Anniversary Concert of the Collegium Vocale. Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 8 p.m., Glenn Memorial Auditorium.
says: For no good reason this great work has seldom been performed. Our terrific conductor (head of music at West Georgia University) had never heard of it until he was doing his dissertation. It's Handel! The story of this oratorio deals with the conflict of Romans and early Christians. And the music ranks with Handel's well known great works. I hope that many of you will come. You will be glad you did.
A poster for the performance can be seen by clicking here.
Emory Speakers Bureau
The invitation from Leslie Wingate:
The Emory Speakers Bureau is coming! As you may recall, the EAA is developing a Speakers Bureau to serve as an informational resource initially for staff, but ultimately for alumni volunteer, donor and external audience groups. Once names are compiled, the Speakers Bureau will allow constituencies to request Emory thought leaders, by topic area, to speak at events and programs or serve as story leads highlighting academic distinction, expertise and discovery. In this development stage, we will not make the names of faculty public, nor will we be contacting faculty, but merely want to begin compiling recommendations. Appropriate DAR staff will manage the outreach to the individual faculty later this spring to seek their interest and capacity for participating and other details related to areas of expertise.
When fully launched, the Emory Speakers Bureau will expand opportunities to showcase our key thought leaders providing both relevance and intellectual engagement to key constituencies of Emory. We are very excited to develop this program and appreciate your support over the next few months in compiling our first group of outstanding speakers.
Speaker recommendations can include:
· Faculty and Emeritus Faculty
· Emory Administration
· Notable Alumni and donors
We invite recommendations on a rolling basis, but would like to have a strong initial pool of potential speakers by late March. Again, we will NOT contact these faculty to speak at this stage; we are merely collecting recommendations. We will then reach out to the individual faculty members letting them know they have been nominated for the 2015-16 (or 2016-17) Speakers Bureau, describing the program and asking if they wish to remain on the list for inclusion.
Let me know if you have any questions, and we ask for you to work within your school/unit to compile initial recommendations and send to us by Monday, March 23rd.
Many thanks for your support.
Leslie Wingate 82C
Senior Director, External Relations
Emory Alumni Association
Emory University, Development and Alumni Relations
815 Houston Mill Road, Atlanta, GA 30329
What to do if you are interested:
EAA would like for us to send a compiled list of interested faculty by March 23. Note that retired faculty represent a valuable resource in that we have many members scattered across the country and a few in foreign countries. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, current location, whether you would be willing to travel, and a very brief bio with information on your experience and expertise. Note that at present, EAA is only compiling an internal list for future use.
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Emory University Emeritus College
The Luce Center
825 Houston Mill Road NE #206
Atlanta, GA 30329