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University governance roundup
Councils discuss dissent on campus and open access to research

University Senate

The University Senate at its Feb. 28 meeting heard updates on efforts to initiate campus-wide dialogue on issues sparked by last spring's student protests against Sodexo, the University's food service contractor.

Law professor Frank Alexander, chair of the Task Force on Dissent, Protest and Community, proposed a set of "normative principles" on which to begin to assess and develop university policies on dissent and protest. He urged the document be used as an invitation for "dialogue, education and revision."

Stephen Sencer, senior vice president and general counsel, presented an update on protesters arrested on the University Quadrangle last April. Charges have been filed in DeKalb County; a hearing is anticipated within a few months.

In other action, the Senate unanimously approved names to be considered for honorary degrees, awarded at Commencement for achievements in a field of learning, the arts, the professions or public service.

Also, nominations are being sought for University Senate president-elect and secretary.

Barbara Woodhouse, L.Q.C. Lamar Professor of Law, shared faculty concerns, which included the need to increase diversity, support for cross-departmental collaboration, and gearing training to a changing economic environment.

Jonathan Zebrowski, a medical student, addressed student concern with parking payment plans and support for students to attend conferences to present research. Haniya Vaid, of the Employee Council, presented the Council's top concerns, and alumni representatives outlined strategic priorities through 2013.

Provost Earl Lewis answered follow-up questions (PDF) from a budget presentation at the Senate's January meeting.

President James Wagner addressed what he calls "paradoxical times" for the University. "I think I could defend the statement: All is well and all is hard," he said.

— Kimber Williams

Faculty Council

This month, Emory faculty will be able to evaluate a demonstration site for Open Access, a digital repository for scholarly research scheduled to be online and available for faculty feedback early March through April.

At the Feb. 22 Faculty Council meeting, library officials explained that the site will be branded to reflect Emory and may also provide profiles and statistics to show how often an article has been viewed. A pilot site launch is planned for the 2012 fall semester.

Faculty presentations included a study of faculty governance and its relationship to overall university governance from Faculty Council President Erica Brownfield, and an overview of the graduate program from Lisa Tedesco, dean of the Laney Graduate School.

Biology professor Gray Crouse invited Distinguished Faculty Lecture nominations, which may be emailed to him at Nominees should be faculty members who embody the highest academic ideals and are engaged in research of interest.

A discussion of faculty concerns included:

• Challenges reserving learning spaces on campus.

• The need for sabbatical-type leave for faculty with heavy teaching loads.

• Class enrollment increases, particularly in chemistry.

• Support to integrate international students into classroom and community.

In conclusion, President James Wagner reflected on recent discussions with the Board of Trustees examining ongoing challenges facing higher education.

"I want you to understand something very pleasing," Wagner says. "That is, the nature of the conversations around all of these (issues) has shifted appropriately from a couple of years ago, from ‘How are we going to survive this?' to ‘How are we going to thrive through this?"

"I think there's been a notable change," he says.

— Kimber Williams

Employee Council

Members of the Employee Council gave some candid perspectives on the Task Force on Dissent, Protest and Community at the Feb. 15 meeting.

Steve Everett, a member of the Task Force on Dissent, Protest and Community, presented questions and premises the group is examining.

Asked to provide feedback, Council members noted the need to know the underlying agenda of a protest; the importance of defining who is part of the community and discussed the power of influence versus power of authority; protecting workers and respecting their space in the midst of protests.

Law professor Frank Alexander, who chairs the task force, said the group was "not undertaking a critique of existing University policies intentionally but instead asking tough questions and trying to identify the moral values, then use them to critique University policies."

In other action, Lisa Underwood, associate vice president for parking and transportation, told the Council that efficiency changes are coming in parking enforcement with a license plate recognition system effective in April. This means those with parking tags can't back into spaces; they must park "nose in." A transportation committee drawn from a variety of campus areas is now "digging into every possible thing you can imagine," she said. Costs for the transportation program have increased significantly while the revenue needed to support the program has not.

— Leslie King

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