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Campus gun control policies, research funding, class and labor report are discussed

By Kimber Williams and Leslie King | Emory Report | Jan. 28, 2013

University Senate  

Emory's gun control policies were discussed at the Jan. 22 University Senate meeting in light of last month's shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which prompted a call to action among several Emory faculty members and spurred discussions about the University's internal and external policies on safety and guns.  

Kathryn Yount, associate professor of global health and sociology, reported that the University currently has three policies that address standards and codes of conduct, ban unauthorized firearms, weapons or dangerous materials, and prohibit workplace violence.  

She offered four proposed resolutions from concerned faculty, including:  

  • A University Senate sub-committee should review Emory's policies on violence, weapons and safety to ensure a "zero-tolerance" policy regarding weapons possession on campus.

  • Make this semester's University Course on violence permanent; include a module about Emory policies pertaining to violence and weapons.

  • Develop a presentation on school safety for administrators in local/area elementary, middle and high schools.

  • Emory administration should join with partner universities to prepare a joint statement regarding weapons and safety on campuses, to be shared with state and national officials.

Stephen Sencer, Emory general counsel and senior vice president, noted there are currently several proposals being considered by the Georgia legislature that address guns on college campuses.  

President James Wagner added that he would "resist strongly any recommendation that says Emory should soften its policy."  

University Senate President Gray Crouse suggested the issue be assigned to the Senate's security and safety committee; Committee Chair Deb Houry, director of the Emory Center for Injury Control, confirmed it will be added to the February agenda.  

Nadine Kaslow, School of Medicine professor and chief psychologist at Grady Memorial Hospital, also presented findings from a major report by the Committee on Class and Labor, which has concluded the first stage of a multiphase study into the nature of class and status in the University community.  

Co-chaired by Kaslow and Gary Hauk, vice president and deputy to the president, the committee was charged with exploring how class functions at Emory, consider ways to minimize its impact upon worker satisfaction and productivity, and find ways to foster a culture of education, advancement and growth.  

The first phase examined Emory's non-academic labor force, including staff and contract workers; subsequent phases will study faculty and students.  

The Senate voted to establish an advisory committee that will take up issues raised by the report.  

Provost-designate Claire Sterk, who officially becomes the University's chief academic officer on Feb. 1, praised the Class and Labor Committee for its work and spoke about looking forward to working with the Senate committee on how to implement recommendations, "to really think about the culture of Emory — who are we as a place, who do we want to be, where do we want to go," she said.  

In closing remarks, Wagner noted important ongoing work around campus, adding that it affords an opportunity to move forward with "a sense of responsibility and ownership within our University for all the important things we need to address together as a scholarly, academic community."  

Faculty Council  

Faced with diminishing funding resources, university researchers nationwide must reconsider how to move forward, said Jacques Galipeau, professor of hematology and medical oncology, pediatrics and medicine, speaking at the Jan. 15 Faculty Council meeting.  

"There are those that aren't going to do anything — those that do something may move ahead," said Galipeau, who helped create the Emory Sponsor-Investigator Association (ESIA) last year. "The great untapped resource is scholar engagement."  

The vision for ESIA is to establish Emory as a national leader in sponsor-investigator led clinical trials and to facilitate communication and connections among University faculty and departments, coordinating efforts and resources among Emory's scholar/researchers.  

Galipeau, who also serves as director of the Emory Personalized Immunotherapy Center, coordinated the first ESIA workshop in December, which drew 88 attendees — the ESIA has 146 members to date. A second workshop is planned in April.  

Faculty Council President Gray Crouse said he "would hope to see this engagement emulated in other areas of the University where faculty get together and do things they couldn't do individually. If scholars get together to work on problems, it's much more effective than working alone." Additionally, he suggested that Faculty Council would be willing to do what it could to help support such faculty efforts.  

In a discussion of topics from around campus, Jaffar Khan, associate professor of neurology, discussed dramatic changes around the landscape of medical education, including expected federal funding cuts at the School of Medicine.  

In response, the medical school has recently assembled a strategic planning group to help redefine its mission and establish a series of task forces to assure that Emory is compliant with new and current regulatory systems and support the education of residents, as well as lifelong learning.  

"It's a very exciting time to be in health care, but also very scary," Khan said. "We don't know what it will look like four years from now."  

In other business, Alan Cattier, director of academic technology services, gave a presentation about online courses and intellectual property issues, including information about Echo360, a blended learning platform piloted last fall at Emory College, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing and Goizueta Business School.  

In closing remarks, newly appointed Provost Claire Sterk said she was very excited to officially step into her new role next month and shared thoughts on "what a provost can and should do."  

"I think as a provost it's really important to be an advocate for the academic life of the University," she said.  

She looks forward to addressing Emory's global strategy, examining ways to claim the liberal arts, strengthening faculty governance and exploring both the student experience and ways to bolster financial aid.

Follow the Council Concerns blog for news and updates from Faculty Council.

Employee Council  

At its Jan. 16 meeting, Employee Council members heard an overview of the work and resulting recommendations from the University-wide Committee on Class and Labor.

Class and Labor co-chair Nadine Kaslow gave the presentation, explaining the findings and next steps.

For Emory staff, the focus of the committee's charge was to:

  • Assess whether class is a significant factor in work relationships at Emory;  
  • Understand the basics of the nonacademic labor market in which Emory competes in Atlanta and beyond;  
  • Evaluate retention, advancement and employee engagement and identify structural impediments to career and educational opportunities;  
  • Determine clear principles and effective practices for guiding the use of contracted labor on campus.  

Employee Council members will serve on the advisory committee that will oversee implementation of the committee's proposals. Kaslow and council members discussed what the council could do to prioritize recommendations that particularly applied to staff.  

In other business, the Employee Council Town Hall is set for March 20. At the annual event, University officials -- including President James Wagner, Provost-designate Claire Sterk, Executive Vice President for Finance Mike Mandl and Emory Healthcare CEO Wright Caughman -- answer questions from faculty and staff, facilitated by the Employee Council.  This year, Council President Kathy Troyer said the newly-constituted Diversity Advisory Council, led by Senior Vice Provost for Community and Diversity Ozzie Harris, will be having a prominent role in the Town Hall.

Countess Hughes, who is the Employee Council Hardship Fund coordinator, reported she had taken a historical look to "see where the fund was and where it's going. . . I'm excited that the fund is growing." Hughes said since the fund's inception in 2009, almost $57,000 in awards have been distributed.  

"The need for the fund had doubled" over the last year, she said. Hughes said the awards Emory employees applied for helped with the types of needs that the fund intended — catastrophes, including job loss, fire, unexpected illness, or accidents.  She said that the Hardship Fund is a good option for departmental and division charitable drives, noting that the finance division and the Office of Information Technology were among two that made the fund their holiday project.