Faculty Mediation Training Update

Michael Sacks and Kathryn Yount delivered an update on the upcoming faculty peer mediation training. A mediation training has been scheduled for May 13-16,  and will be led by Professor Timothy Hedeen, the faculty ombudsperson at Kennesaw State University and a professor of conflict management. Most schools and colleges at Emory will have a faculty delegate present at the May training, with other schools and colleges have committed to send a representative to the December training. At this point, Emory does not have consistent services for voluntary mediation within the schools, so these trainings will provide a network of trained faculty neutrals who can serve as the first point of contact within each school. Faculty who will serve as neutrals on the new standing committee for faculty peer mediation also will be trained in May.

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Town Hall on Faculty Governance in University-Level Promotion and Tenure Review

The March Faculty Council meeting closed with a 45-minute Town Hall discussion of faculty governance in university-level promotion and tenure (UPT) review. Kathryn Yount led the Town Hall, beginning with a review of previously approved UPT processes and UPT processes currently under consideration by the Faculty Council, which included an elected faculty chair, consistent and transparent review processes, as well as an advisory vote and advisory memo to be sent to the Provost/President and directly to the Board of Trustees. Professor Justin Remais also presented an assessment of the proposed processes from the Task Force on Shared Faculty Governance, which found the proposal to be in strong alignment with the principles of faculty governance that the University Faculty Council adopted earlier this year.

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President’s Remarks on Open Expression

President James Wagner sought the perspectives of Faculty Council members on academic expression and free expression. Wagner framed the conversation with examples including the “elective and self-imposed restrictions” that individuals might occasionally make to facilitate discussion during difficult conversations, as well as issues raised by Commencement speaker Salman Rushdie, who as University Distinguished Professor gave a Feb. 15 public lecture at Emory focused on freedom of expression and “The Liberty Instinct.” “Is there such a thing as responsibility in free expression?” Wagner asked, soliciting comments from Faculty Council members. “In other words, are there limits to the practice of free expression that should be imposed from time to time to ensure a better practice of academic freedom and the safety of those who engage in it?”

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Principles of Faculty Governance

The Council approved a motion for revisions to the faculty handbook that provide a list of principles as guiding values across the university. The principles were developed after extensive deliberation of a task force for faculty governance, led by Associate Professor Justin Remais, and conversations of the task force with faculty across the university. These principles develop and reaffirm the set of fundamental principles for faculty governance, said Kristin Wendland, of the Department of Music. John Bugge of the Emeritus College listed the principles: interdependence, inclusiveness, transparency, communication, accountability, being democratic, deliberativeness, consistency, collegiality, fairness, recognition, and plurality.


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Faculty Governance in Unit Assessment

Jason Hockenberry, associate professor in the Rollins School of Public Health, gave an update on his committee’s work thus far on proposals to create a “culture of assessment” in response to the U.S. Department of Education and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) feedback from Emory’s recent successful conclusion to the reaccreditation process by SACS. The goal, Hockenberry said, is to move assessment from a box-checking report to strategic planning and setting aspirational goals. “The Department of Education is looking for meaningful assessment — not designing a syllabus or tests, but can you say what Emory students look like one, two, three years out when they’ve gone through a given program? They’re interested not so much in what students learn entering and exiting the program but what happens after, what they’ve done with it,” he said. Hockenberry’s committee is looking for more faculty members to join, particularly those with program assessment expertise. The committee will make recommendations to the provost’s office on creating the culture of assessment.

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Standing Committee on Faculty Mediation

The Faculty Council approved the creation of a Standing Committee on Faculty Dispute Resolution, which would provide informal, voluntary, faculty-led mediation services and training in conflict resolution for Emory faculty. The vote followed recommendations presented by Sheryl Heron, professor of emergency medicine, and Michael Sacks, associate professor in the practice of organization and management, who co-chair a special committee approved last semester to explore the creation of a process for faculty to address and resolve interpersonal conflicts and organizational challenges. The standing committee’s mission will be to “assist faculty with resolving conflicts that arise from everyday work life before these conflicts become formal grievances,” according to the report given by Dr. Heron and Dr. Sacks. “This initiative is an important opportunity for transformative cultural change,” says Council Chair Kathryn Yount.

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Faculty Governance Around Campus

Kristin Wendland, Emory College of Arts and Sciences, reported that ECAS faculty members are considering proposed bylaws revisions that would:

  • Replace GovCom with a College Faculty Senate comprised of 23 voting and 7 non-voting members;
  • Reform standing committees;
  • Reduce meetings to twice yearly and change format;
  • Revise the appeals process for committee and senate decisions.

Angela Amar, School of Nursing, presented updates in strategic plan initiatives, a branding retreat, new program and curriculum revisions, efforts to enhance diversity, and Ebola education opportunities.

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Provost’s Remarks – January Faculty Council Meeting

Provost Claire Sterk discussed new faculty seminars that will be offered to Emory trustees at their February board meeting. Nine Emory professors will present a series of educational sessions to provide the experience of “what it is like to be a learner, to be exposed to different ways in which faculty can teach, to get a sense of what it takes to prepare a class,” she said. The second part of the seminar will focus on “the value of the topic being discussed, what’s the social impact, how does it contribute to the public good, how does it link to public scholarship?”

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Ebola Advisory Task Force

Dr. David Stephens, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Chief of Medicine for Emory Healthcare, spoke about the work of Emory’s Ebola Advisory Task Force, which he co-chairs with S. Wright Caughman, CEO of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center and chairman of Emory Healthcare. The task force was created to advise the University President on issues and policies rapidly unfolding around the ebola viral disease epidemic, including biosafety, infection control, preparedness and response; research, education, communication and ethics; and institutional policies on travel. Dr. Stephens said plans are being explored to host a forum about Ebola research opportunities. In the spring semester, an academic discussion group will be held for the Emory community to examine the ebola virus through a multidisciplinary lens, including its impact upon business, law, religion and ethics, said Dr. Debra Bruner, Robert W. Woodruff Chair in Nursing, who is on the Emory Ebola Advisory Task Force.

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Emory’s Global Strategies

Phillip Wainwright, Vice Provost for International Affairs and Director of the Halle Institute for Global Learning at Emory, spoke about Emory’s Global Strategies. Central goals include:

  • Initiatives that position Emory as a university noted for its global impact, and
  • Integrating Emory’s international community into the life of the university.
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