College Considers New Governance Structure

April 2nd, 2014 by aadam02


At its March 18 meeting, the Faculty Council heard a report on two committees addressing faculty governance currently in the college. In the wake of the restructuring of several departments and programs announced in fall 2012, the College formed one committee to review the processes leading to those decisions (Process Review Committee) and a second to review faculty governance structures in the college (Shared Governance Committee). “There were three basic findings” in the report of the first committee, Kristin Wendland said: “One is that the bylaws in the college are unclear and don’t have specific guidelines about how to change or reorganize departments and programs. The second was that the deans did not violate any of the college bylaws in their decisions to reduce the departments and reallocate funds. The third was that there were problems in communication between the college administration and the affected departments.” This committee recommended a reexamination of the college bylaws, a strengthened appeals process, improved communications, and an updated vision of the liberal arts mission. Two key recommendations that came out of the Shared Governance Committee, according to Wendland: “To change the bylaws to provide for a representative college senate, and to endorse a clear set of guidelines for the ongoing evaluations of programs and departments.”


Seeking Feedback on Emory Barnes & Noble Bookstore

April 2nd, 2014 by aadam02


In March, Bruce Covey, senior director of campus life technology and bookstore relations, along with Paul Byrnes, director of business services, solicited the Council’s feedback on Emory’s bookstores. Covey reported that the bookstore space in the Oxford Road building has gotten “rave reviews,” especially in student surveys. Sales are up in every area but textbooks, but, he added, “we haven’t received a textbook complaint from a faculty member that has reached my office in more than three years,” compared to more than 10 complaints per year in the past.

Covey continued, “The challenge is that we are in an industry that is changing rapidly. As we continue to enhance our relationship with Barnes & Noble, we also need to look 5 to 10 years into the future to think about how the bookstore will affect our community.” As students continue to purchase textbooks from other sources, he added, the bookstores are repositioning themselves by extending their range of services. Currently, the bookstore offers campus office delivery on purchases, faculty/staff discounts, and a computer repair center.

Graduate School Executive Council Chair Reports on Priorities

April 2nd, 2014 by aadam02


As the newly appointed chair of the Executive Council of the Laney Graduate School, Professor of Environmental Health Barry Ryan presented a report on the current status of the graduate school. In his overview, he mentioned that the school presently enrolls some 1900 students, that it offers more than 40 degree programs, and that its faculty includes nearly 1000 scholars and researchers from Emory schools as well as partner institutions elsewhere. He went on to identify four key priorities for the school: academic identity, diversity and inclusion, professionalization, and internationalization. He also noted the major competitive pressures on the school, including areas in which the school must remain competitive (stipends, student health insurance, career preparation, recruitment, and student services) as well as national issues, such as funding and the need for a renewed national agenda that shows the value of graduate training.


Quality Enhancement Plan Rolling Out

February 26th, 2014 by aadam02


At its February 18 meeting, the Faculty Council heard a report on the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), a required part of the university’s Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) reaccreditation in 2014. A campuswide process in 2011-12 yielded a decision to select “The Nature of Evidence” (originally named “Primary Evidence”) as the theme of Emory’s QEP plan. Since that time, a steering committee representing divisions across the campus, under the leadership of Professor Pamela Scully, has more fully developed the plan. The goal of this five-year plan, dedicated to improving an aspect of student learning or the environment for student success, is to empower students as independent scholars capable of supporting arguments with different types of evidence. The plan has three components designed to engage first-year students at Emory’s main campus 1) before they arrive on campus, 2) within the classroom (in the required first-year seminars), and 3) beyond the classroom, through co-curricular experiences. “If we can help them think about the differences between original and secondary sources, how different disciplines encounter evidence, the way new evidence or a new look at existing evidence can present ideas in a new light—this kind of basic engagement with questions of evidence would be a very good thing for our students,” Scully said.


University Research Committee Considers Changes

February 26th, 2014 by aadam02


In February, the co-chairs of the University Research Committee (URC), Frank Wong (Public Health) and Elizabeth Pastan (Art History), spoke to the Council to solicit its input. A standing committee of the Faculty Council, the URC awards small research grants to Emory faculty. In collaboration with the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, the URC is considering changes to improve its tracking of research output, encourage and fund high-risk/high-reward research, update its policies and procedures, and pursue new directions in interdisciplinary research. The URC currently has five subcommittees: 1) Biological & Health Sciences; 2) Humanities; 3) Social Sciences; 4) Math & Natural Sciences; and 5) Visual & Performing Arts. A sixth “Interdisciplinary” category was created three years ago but not formally constituted as a subcommittee. “This is the part we really wanted to bring to the Faculty Council today,” Wong said. “Exactly what do we mean by ‘interdisciplinary?’” He suggested formalizing this committee as a standing committee and said the critical issue was how to conceptualize interdisciplinarity without downplaying or underplaying certain disciplines. Pastan added that currently interdisciplinary applications were defined through self-identification by the applicants.


Provost Reports on Budget Process, Reaccreditation

February 26th, 2014 by aadam02


Provost Claire Sterk addressed the Council in February on several major processes currently underway in the life of the university. The annual “budget season” recently began, she said, offering “an insider’s perspective on challenges and how people are looking toward solutions. More and more, we hear about ways to collaborate that were not part of the rhetoric in the past. It’s shifting the way people are approaching identity in their schools and the budget consequences.” Sterk also spoke at length about the SACSCOC reaccreditation visit on March 17-19, 2014, and the extraordinary amount of preparation and effort behind the process (for example, Emory’s QEP, “The Nature of Evidence”). “I think everybody would agree that it’s important for us to do assessment,” she said. “We just want to do it in ways that fit the institution.”


Conflict of Commitment Policy Revised

January 28th, 2014 by aadam02


Following a review of the conflict of commitment policy outlined in the Emory Faculty Handbook, now under the authority of the Faculty Council, the Council voted at its January 21 meeting to revise the policy. The revision is intended to more accurately reflect both current practices and a philosophical shift toward a greater spirit of engagement of faculty in activities on a local, national, and global scale. For example, the earlier version stated that a faculty member must get prior permission from the dean to deliver a lecture at another school within Emory, even when no compensation was involved. The revised policy distinguishes among levels and types of external professional activity with requirements adjusted accordingly. The policy’s guiding principle now states, in part, “The specific responsibilities and professional activities that constitute an appropriate and primary commitment will differ across schools, but they should be based on a general understanding between the faculty member, department chair (if applicable), and dean.” Some individual schools have more detailed private consulting policies; faculty should consult their schools’ policies and websites for more details. To review the full revised policy, click here.


Deans and Council Discuss Changes in Academic Medicine

January 28th, 2014 by aadam02


In January, the Council welcomed a panel of the three deans of the schools in the health sciences at Emory—Chris Larsen from the School of Medicine, Linda McCauley from the School of Nursing, and James Curran from the School of Public Health—to discuss challenges in their fields in the face of cataclysmic change in healthcare in the U.S. Dean Larsen addressed the imperatives of patient safety, quality of care, and value, as well as rising threats to traditional revenue streams for academic healthcare. Dean McCauley discussed the impending shortage of nursing faculty, opportunities for the nursing school in the anticipated growth of employment of RN’s, and changes coming to nursing school programs and faculty as nursing education grows more competitive. Dean Curran talked about the rapid growth of public health schools in the U.S. in the past few decades and growth in the ranks of full-tuition master’s students to subsidize doctoral programs, as well as increasing challenges as federal research dollars dwindle. As talented investigators lose funding, he said, faculty retention will become a challenge.


Understanding Who Constitutes “the Faculty”

January 28th, 2014 by aadam02


In a January meeting discussion led by three council members, each representing concerns from faculty in the health sciences, the Council deliberated the evolving meaning of “tenure” and “nontenure” faculty positions across the university. As the numbers of clinical track faculty in the health sciences rise, for example, how are those non-tenure-track faculty supported, and what influence do they have on traditional domains of faculty governance, such as curriculum? Also discussed was the National Institutes of Health’s intention to move away from funding structures that support faculty salaries through research dollars, leaving many faculty in “soft money” positions in the health sciences to wonder about future salary funding sources.


Council Considers Conflict of Interest

November 25th, 2013 by aadam02

In November the Faculty Council reviewed the conflict of interest policies outlined in the Emory Faculty Handbook, which is now under the authority of the Council. Brenda Seiton, Assistant Vice President for Research Administration, spoke on the work of the Conflict of Interest Office. Seiton said that most of the policies in the handbook are administered through the Office of the Provost and the deans’ offices. She also noted that all Emory faculty engaged in research must complete an annual electronic certification in conflict of interest. Faculty not engaged in research should check with their deans’ offices on what is required. The eCOI system, she said, “captures information about financial interests and external activities,” from consulting activities and investments to externally funded research. Her office is responsible for policies for investigators holding financial interest in research and institutional financial interest in human subject research. She put the question to members as to whether guidelines for scholarship needed to be adjusted to respond more effectively to the needs of humanities and social sciences faculty. The Council approved a motion to form an ad hoc committee to review the policies currently in the handbook and present recommendations by the end of this academic year.