University Research Committee (URC) Update

At the October Faculty Council meeting, the University Research Committee Chairs provided an overview of the 2015 awards and highlighted changes for the 2016 cycle, first thanking the 60+ faculty volunteers, who read and assessed proposals for their commitment to the peer review process. The Chairs also encouraged Faculty Council members to submit nominations for the 2016 Albert E. Levy Scientific Research Awards. The URC awards continue to be short-term, non-renewable grants, capped at the amount specified in each category, available on a competitive basis. Any fees and expenses must fall within that total dollar amount and must be spent within the year of the award. The committee chairs detailed two policy changes for this year’s funding cycle: 1) URC applicants may now request funds for student assistance (including graduate students and post-docs), in addition to allowable expenses related directly to the research project submitted; and 2) Interdisciplinary applications with unique potential impact may now present justification for an award in excess of the $40,000 limit, while indicating if the proposed research project can be completed without additional funds.

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Faculty Peer Mediation

Ned Becker, Chair of the Faculty-Peer Mediation Committee, provided update on Emory’s Faculty-Peer Mediation process at October’s Faculty Council meeting. Faculty peer mediation is a faculty-led, faculty-focused alternative dispute resolution structure and process that is embedded within university-level faculty governance structures. This infrastructure and process seeks to leverage trained faculty neutrals to facilitate voluntary, confidential, informal meditations to help faculty successfully resolve conflicts with other faculty before conflicts escalate. In May, twenty Emory faculty completed the 28 hour peer mediation training course. The course received great feedback from the participants. The next training session is in December. The December course has over 50 applicants, and some applicants are wait-listed for the next May training course. The mediators represent all 9 Emory schools/colleges. Confidentiality is one of the main focuses for the mediation process. Taking part in mediation is strictly voluntary. Mediation may be suggested to faculty as a way to resolve workplace problems. No one can be required to go to mediation, and it can be stopped at any time. Faculty who use mediation do not give up their right to use the grievance procedures available to them at any time. Emory University encourages use of mediation and University policy prohibits retaliation against any person solely for requesting or participating in mediation. For more information, please visit the Committee’s website –

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Faculty Counselor Report: Investment Committee

At the October Faculty Council meeting, Tamara Caspary reported on her experience as the Faculty Counselor for the Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee. Emory University’s endowment value reached a record high of almost $7 billion as of June 30, 2015, earning a 3.6 percent return on investment over the trailing 12 months. Emory Investment Management (EIM), the group that oversees the endowment, continues to maintain a well-diversified portfolio, to invest with best-in-class external partners, and to seek opportunities to add value throughout market cycles. EIM directs the day-to-day operations with four groups: private investments, public investments, buy/sell, and asset management. The investment strategy is research-driven, team-based, and disciplined. Emory’s endowment was strengthened by philanthropic gifts totaling $72 million, representing continued generosity and confidence among donors. Growth was offset by net distributions of $258 million to support Emory’s academic programs and research support.

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Emory Receives Record External Research Funding for 2015

At the September Faculty Council meeting, President Wagner announced that researchers at Emory received $572.4 million from external funding agencies in fiscal year 2015, a 9.69 percent increase over last fiscal year. This marks the largest amount of research funding in Emory’s history and is the sixth consecutive year that research funding has exceeded $500 million. Federal agencies awarded nearly $375 million, or nearly 66 percent of the total, led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with nearly $300 million in awards. NIH funding represented 80 percent of total federal dollars awarded to Emory.

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2016 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer

Distinguished Faculty Lecture Committee Chair Jaffar Khan announced that Dr. Bruce Levin has been selected as the Distinguished Faculty Lecturer for 2016. Dr. Levin’s research focus is cell biology with a special interest in evolutionary biology. Additionally, Dr. Levin is a pioneer in the field of experimental biology. The Distinguished Faculty Lecture was developed in 1995 by the University Faculty Council as a means to recognize excellence among faculty across the university. Each year a lecturer is nominated by a special committee of the Faculty Council and approved by the University President and Provost. The Distinguished Faculty Lecture is held during Founder’s Week.

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Campus Construction Projects

President Wagner highlighted several campus construction projects during his report at the September Faculty Council Meeting. After recently completing the Atwood Chemistry Center addition and renovations to the Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, Emory is continuing several major construction and renovation projects designed to provide cutting-edge facilities for teaching, learning, research and patient care. Some projects are expected to be finished as early as this fall, while others will continue into 2016 and 2017. Current projects include the Emory University Hospital bed tower, a new science building at Oxford College, and the Library Service Center (LSC). The LSC is a collaborative project between Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology that will house a shared collection of materials, provide delivery services, and free up space on the main campuses at both universities.

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Class and Labor II Report

Nadine Kaslow and Gray Crouse reported on the work of the Class and Labor II committee. They presented some of the data they had collected regarding faculty class and labor issues, including gender equity in salary and tenure-track positions, though noted that their findings are preliminary at this point. The next step for the committee is to analyze the qualitative data gathered from focus groups in more detail, and finish gathering and analyzing the quantitative data related to their faculty survey. The committee will return to the Faculty Council in the fall when all the data have been analyzed and interpreted, and a final report will be available in November with comprehensive findings and recommendations.

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Vote on University Tenure, Promotions, and Appointments Committee (TPAC)

Following the March Town Hall discussion, the Faculty Council voted unanimously to support new processes to guide faculty governance in university-level promotion and tenure reviews and to nominate a writing committee to continue drafting the details of the new process. The newly endorsed processes include:

  • Forming a Tenure, Promotion, and Appointments Committee (TPAC)
  • Electing a faculty chair of TPAC
  • Implementing consistent, transparent review processes for TPAC
  • Implementing an advisory vote by TPAC elected faculty to the President/ Provost and Board of Trustees (BOT)
  • Implementing an advisory memo from TPAC elected faculty to the President/ Provost and BOT


A writing committee will begin work in the summer of 2015, and implementation of the new process is tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2016.

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Culture of Assessment

Jason Hockenberry presented an update from the Learning Outcomes and Assessment (LOA) Committee, introducing David Jordan and Nancy Bliwise, experts that could speak to the culture of assessment. David Jordan discussed the federal requirements for assessment and accreditation, as well as more specific regional standards. He commented that he believes we should move away from talking about assessment primarily in terms of accreditation requirements. Instead, he suggested that we focus on our teaching, our learning, improving our methods of assessment, and building a better culture of assessment. Nancy Bliwise provided a brief summary of Emory’s last accreditation experience. Jason Hockenberry appealed to the Faculty Council to spread the word and to recommend faculty with expertise or the desire to develop expertise in program-level learning assessment who could serve as LOA committee members.

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Provost’s Remarks

In her closing remarks, Provost Claire Sterk highlighted the recent accreditation review of the Carlos Museum and the self-study review of Oxford College conducted in the fall. A self-study review of Emory College of Arts and Sciences will also be released soon. Provost Sterk commented that it was a good practice to have a mix of both internal and external reflection and review.

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