As the principal officers charged by the Board of Trustees for
administration of the University, we want to respond to the statement
by the Executive Committee of the Emory College faculty. We believe
firmly in the principle of shared governance of the University by
faculty and staff members.
No university is, or should be, an oligarchy. At the same time,
no university can be, fully, a democracy. What a university must
be, however, is a forum for the exchange of accurate information,
for fair and civil debate about the implications of that information,
and for wise decision making. It is in the interest of furthering
these ends that we respond to the faculty letter printed in this
issue of Emory Report.
On several matters we agree with the faculty: The cuts in benefits
are regrettable, and the process by which the decision was made
could have been longer, more transparent, and more laden with information
for those who would be affected by those cuts. Nevertheless, we
believe the decision to cut benefits was, in the end, necessary,
and that the cuts finally arrived at are much less severe than those
The faculty and staff must have appropriate avenues for participating
in the governance of the University. Responsibility for ensuring
that these avenues are well utilized must be shared. We here pledge
ourselves to nurturing and facilitating as fully as possible the
engagement of faculty and staff in the means of governance that
are already in place, and to collaborating to create new means of
engagement where necessary.
Emory must have an ambitious vision. We believe it does have an
ambitious vision. We are not wavering from that vision, which has
been fully articulated in a number of important documents derived
from deep and wide-ranging discussions with faculty, staff, trustees,
alumni and students and published over the past seven years. These
documents include Choices and Responsibility; A Vision for Emory;
The Emory University Campus Master Plan; the Strategic Plan
for Oxford College; the report of the Commission on Teaching;
the current study of research at Emory being led by faculty members
from all schools of the University; and other such manifestations
of the caliber of intellectual life and aspiration at Emory. We
remain as committed as we have always been to doing all that is
possible to enhance Emorys standing in the world.
The Emory College faculty, along with other faculty and staff members,
have registered their points of concern in the Statement of
Grave Concern. We would like to address each of those points.
Are the cuts in benefits
The Statement says that the cuts may be unnecessary and counterproductive,
that savings will be offset by delayed retirements and reduced bequests
from faculty and staff, and that the costs of medical care will
be slowed because the federal government is poised to increase
Medicare coverage for drugs.
First let us note that it would be unwise to frame a budget on
the basis of what the federal government might do. Should
the federal government institute universal health care for all Americans,
our budgetary worries mightor might notbe over. In the
meantime, we are confronted with the grave and unmistakable reality
of double-digit increases in health care costs. The Universitys
own contribution to the health care of its employees and its retirees
has ballooned dramatically over the past few years. With every increase
in costs, the University has absorbed much more than it has passed
on to employees and retirees. For as long as prudently possible,
Emory continued to contribute fully 69 percent of the costs of health
care premiums for those who had retired from the University.
But as this benefit has absorbed more and more of our operating
budget, we have had fewer and fewer resources to put into salaries,
libraries, financial aid to our students, and maintenance of our
physical plant. We had to make a choice. The choice was this: Should
we continue to tether our fortunes to external forces over which
we have no control and which can, with each passing year, constrict
our mission; or should we limit our exposure to something that can,
in the end, severely damage us? We chose to limit the Universitys
vulnerability while maintaining a competitive benefits package.
As we do every year in anticipation of the open-enrollment period,
we are currently redesigning the health care plan to make it both
as effective and as affordable as possible. More than 100 faculty,
staff and administrators from across the University are involved
in these discussions. Our hope is that this review will help to
minimize the impact of the overall benefits changes on retirees
Will the impact of
the benefits cuts be severe and demoralizing?
No one finds delight in the necessity to reduce a benefit. This
is not a decision the administration and trustees could take lightly
or could initiate without regret. Our colleagues, staff and friends
are affected by the decision. We ourselves will be affected by it.
In balancing our responsibility to the financial viability of the
University and the need of colleagues and friends for affordable
health care, we had to make trade-offs. Although it may not ease
the pain to say so, the cuts are not as severe as they might have
been. The University is notas some comparable private colleges
and universities are doinglaying off staff and aborting searches
to fill faculty positions.
The choices we made were reasonable and protect our central assets.
We reduced our contribution to the premium costs of retiree health
care from 69 percent to 50 percent, and we capped the growth of
our continuing contributions to 4 percent per year. This cap derives
from the same logic that governed the reduction in the first place:
not to undermine our mission by tying it to the increases that actually
do jeopardize our future. We have heard expressions of disappointment,
betrayal, anger and deflation of spirit as a result of this decision.
We understand these expressions. But with regret, we believe it
Will the cuts affect
Emorys academic standing?
The Statement of Grave Concern is absolutely correct
in noting the disparity between Emorys No. 8 endowment and
its No. 18 ranking in U.S. News and World Report. The reasons
for this are many and complex and have much to do with geography
and history. Even in 1979, before the great Woodruff gift and the
tremendous growth of the endowment during the 1980s and 1990s, Emorys
endowment ranked 16th in the nation. But its faculty salaries that
year ranked near or at the bottom of its cohort of peers, and its
academic standing was that of a strong, regional doctorate-granting
university, not a major research institution.
By contrast, just last month (April 19) The Chronicle of Higher
Education reported that the average salary for full professors
at Emory ranks 15th in the nation, just behind salaries at Duke
and at the end of a list led by Harvard, Rockefeller, Princeton,
Yale, Stanford and Chicago. (Emory actually ranks seventh after
adjustment for regional differences in cost of living.)
We are in good company, in both the degree to which our faculty
are compensated and the measures of our academic standing. None
of those universities is likely to step aside for us to take its
place. But with the belief that the best faculty will raise Emorys
academic standing, Emory has sought for more than a decade to strengthen
its competitiveness in the market for both faculty and staff. We
constantly monitor salaries in the marketplace. And with an aim
to maintaining a competitive edge, we have asked the Ways and Means
Committee to make salary competitiveness the highest priority in
preparing the budget for fiscal year 200304.
Why was the faculty
As we noted above, we believe firmly in the principle of shared
governance in a university. Both according to centuries-old tradition
and according to the bylaws of Emory University, however, shared
governance does not mean there are no boundaries.
Trustees must establish policy and approve budgets and hire presidents;
they do not meddle in administration. Faculty members must set academic
standards, establish curricula and energize the intellectual life
of the Univer-sity; their role in managing the details of daily
administration is, for the sake of their principal work, limited.
Administrators are charged with making it possible for staff members
to do their jobs, for faculty members to do their jobs, and for
the institution to run smoothly while remaining strong financially;
they may not, by themselves, set University policy or tell the faculty
how to go about their scholarship.
That these spheres of responsibility exist does not mean they do
not overlap, or they do not impinge on each other and make consultation
necessary. Clearly a decision that affects every employee and retiree,
such as the decision to reduce benefits, necessarily entails consultation.
The Statement condemns the senior administrations unwillingness
to engage constructively with the proposals in the College facultys
Resolution and the Open Letter sent by the College faculty.
Yet those documents, which were shaped by the collaboration of many
peoplealong with the various open forums, Faculty Council
and University Senate meetings, and a mountain of correspondence
from individuals over the past three monthsnot only have fully
aired the views of hundreds but also were heard, wrestled with and
taken to heart by administrators and trustees charged with keeping
the budget of the University in balance.
The benefits changes proposed in January were not the changes approved
April 11 by the trustees. And the significant difference between
January and April is directly a result of the dialogue in which
the administration, faculty and staff engaged. The administration
did not agree with all of the counterproposals made during that
dialogue. That does not constitute refusal to engage constructively.
What about new structures
Half a century ago, the Board of Trustees established the University
Senate as the body by which faculty and staff could exercise their
shared responsibility for the governance of the University. That
body has been presided over ably by some of the most respected and
most senior faculty in the University. One committee of the Senatethe
Fringe Benefits Committeespent countless hours poring over
the proposals for cutting fringe benefits, issued a thoughtful and
deeply considered report containing some agreement with the proposals
and some counterproposals. This committees report had the
effect of mitigating the degree to which both retirement benefits
and medical benefits to retirees were modified.
The governance structure works. It must be put to work in a still
more vital way. The degree to which this happens depends on the
faculty and staff.
But we pledge ourselves to facilitating that engagement. The president,
the provost, several vice presidents and one dean, representing
the Deans Council, meet monthly with the Senate to present
information, hear respon-ses and engage in discussion on issues
of the most vital importance to the life of the University. This
is the forum for these matters. It is the body that represents the
faculty and staffand the students as wellin recommending
policy and action to the president and to the Board of Trustees.
The Statement calls for elected faculty representatives, with voting
privileges, on the Board of Trustees. This will be a matter for
the Board to decide. But we oppose such representation. It is absolutely
necessary that a board of trustees act with objectivity, but not
with indifference, in setting the policies and strategic directions
of the University.
To the degree that faculty members are affected directly and materially
by budget decisions, they are interested partiesthat is, they
stand to gain or lose by the decisions they would be making as part
of the Board. Certainly they might serve as advisory members of
the board or its committeesjust as the chair and the chair-elect
of the Faculty Council serve as representative faculty to the Academic
Affairs Committee of the Board. We have recommended to the Board
some ways in which such advisory relationships might be initiated.
Our shared responsibilities entail sometimes painful choices that
we would rather not have to make. This has been an admittedly difficult
process. Hundreds of people have spent thousands of hours to find
the best path forward that can maintain the academic excellence
and the long-term financial strength of Emory University. We commend
all of those involved in this extraordinary effort and are certain
that this decision will strengthen the University in its educational,
research and service missions.
William M. Chace
Howard O. Hunter
John L. Temple
Michael M.E. Johns
William H. Fox
John L. Ford
Kent B. Alexander
Gary S. Hauk