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Emory leaders schedule follow-up meeting on college plan

Emory administrators committed to a follow-up meeting with students protesting planned department cuts in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences following a meeting held in President James Wagner's office Tuesday afternoon. (See "Emory leaders hold follow-up meeting regarding college plan," Dec. 7 for update.)

A noon rally in the Quad turned into an afternoon sit-in on the fourth floor of the University's Administration Building. About 25 protesters, mostly students, remained to hear the outcome of discussions between President Wagner, Vice President Gary Hauk, and six representatives — one faculty member, two undergraduate students and three graduate students. 

Following the meeting, Wagner emerged briefly to address those gathered in the hallway outside. He said there remains a great deal of work to be done, but that there was a building sense of good faith in the conversations. 

He added he had agreed to convene a meeting between himself, Emory College Dean Robin Forman and representatives of the protest group, to be held as soon as possible. He said he thought those involved shared a common concern for the future of Emory University, even if they didn't all agree on what that entails. 

Negotiators for the group reported that Wagner had called Forman during the meeting and that Forman had spoken with the group at length by telephone.

Neither he nor Wagner agreed that the cuts would be reversed, they said, but they did agree to discuss the basis of the decisions that were made. 

Vice President Hauk said that Wagner had emphasized repeatedly that he supports the dean and that the dean does have the authority to make the cuts that have been announced. 

Julia Kjelgaard, chair of the visual arts department, was one of the six representatives who met with Wagner. She said she thought there was frustration on both sides, but still, “There is more conversation to be had.” And, she said, she thought further conversation would be worthwhile even if determines, as is possible, that her department lacks “eminence” and would indeed be cut in the end 

In September, the Emory College of Arts and Sciences began implementation of a multi-year plan designed to enhance areas of distinction, transform areas of excellence into areas of eminence, and allocate resources to invest in important new and emerging growth areas. 

The plan calls for investment in strengths of the arts and sciences and in new, interdisciplinary areas of instruction and inquiry, including contemporary China studies, digital and new media studies and neurosciences. 

To create opportunities for new investment and enhance existing academic offerings, the College is closing and reorganizing three academic departments and a program: the Division of Educational Studies; the Department of Physical Education; and the Department of Visual Arts, in addition to the Program in Journalism. In addition, admissions to the graduate programs in Spanish and Economics, and to the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts, have been suspended. The ILA will be reorganized into an institute without permanent faculty. 

Undergraduate students who have begun a major or minor in closing academic departments will be able to complete those majors, while all graduate students in affected graduate programs (Economics, Educational Studies, Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts, Spanish) remain full members of the Laney Graduate School and all financial and academic commitments will be honored. 

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