Tag Archives: Pres. James Wagner

#WagnerForum: Many metaphors, few verbs

“When asked what he thought of the liberal arts and their place in the world, Wagner said that people join the liberal arts to join something. It’s the same mentality, he added, that you see in the inner city with gangs. Yes, Wagner compared an ethnomusicology degree to gangs.”
-A. J. Artis, “A. J.’s Response to Wagner” (exaggerated, but not by much)

The liberal arts instill values, Wagner said, but our society has lost the value of values. Later: “We’ve heard what society wants. They want job-ready citizens.” And Emory has to separate itself from the whims of the economy, except when it comes to international students, tuition hikes, subcontracted labor, course offerings, or the value of scholarship.

Wagner complained that “some graduate students are taking ten years to complete their PhDs”–reflecting a national statistic of little validity to Emory, whose average time to completion is closer to six years.

As for the impediments posed to research by cuts to language programs, and the lack of well-paying, secure jobs, well, we’ll need to think about that. His parting words were disheartening.

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Confidence games

Last week, 133 College faculty, or 40% of voters, declared that they had no confidence in President Wagner as a leader of Emory. Wagner and his supporters are calling the referendum a victory. Here’s why we don’t think it’s that simple: The motion for a referendum survived three faculty meetings (including one at which Wagner was present), as did the Payne motion calling for a review of the cuts. 133 votes on a symbolic, non-binding motion cannot be ignored. And the high number of eligible faculty who didn’t vote at all (47%) speaks to the obscurity of governance and the president’s responsibilities.

Finally, we are still awaiting the graduate student vote. Go to www.emory.edu/vote tomorrow (April 16) between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

This morning, Wagner emailed the entire Emory community with a veritable Mad Lib of administrative clichés. We couldn’t help but notice a striking resemblance to last week’s “Keep Wagner” campaign:
Wagner email and Keep Wagner petition

The creator of the campaign, which appeared halfway through the faculty vote and appears to target undergraduate students (who were denied the right to an actual vote on the matter by the SGA), has “requested anonymity because of his affiliation with a student organization.” He implies that SRC activism, rather than any particular contribution Wagner has made to the university, was the catalyst. To which we reply: It must take a lot of courage to defend the status quo, word for word.

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SRC’s No Confidence flyer

No Confidence flyer 4/10

Edited 4/11 to add references:

Manipulation of student data: New York Times 23 Dec. 2012, “Poor students struggle…” (Angelica’s story)

Targeted censorship: especially against Students and Workers in Solidarity

Faking admissions data: widely reported

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Grab a No Confidence shirt tomorrow

The SRC will be giving away these striking t-shirts tomorrow (April 10) on Asbury Circle from noon to 12:30. Donations are appreciated to cover printing costs.

T-shirt with inverted Emory crest: "Wagner, resign. No confidence"

Since Essence of Emory is over, we can’t imagine this will make the university antsy at all. In fact, Wagner has already approved. Giving the shirt a test run, Andy Ratto ran into President Wagner outside the Administration building: “He gave me a wave and smile,” Andy said, “so I paused for a moment so we could do a stop and chat. When he got up to me and saw the shirt, he said something like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know about those.’ I said, ‘Yeah, too bad I don’t have my camera or we could get a picture together,’ I think he said something about wondering if it is a Laney thing, and then asked where I got the shirt from. I said I got it from a friend, and we parted ways.”

Tomorrow will be the halfway point in the week-long anonymous faculty vote, and we don’t want it to be pushed off the radar or watered down to an airing of concerns about the “vibrancy” of the university.

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News media following faculty vote

Last night’s top story on CBS Atlanta’s News at 11 was “Emory faculty to vote on president’s competence.” (Not quite the phrasing of the original, but interesting.) Reporter Veronica Griffin spoke with SRC member Katherine Bryant about the tense relation faculty have had with President Wagner since September, the cuts’ disproportionate impact on minority faculty and students, and the continuing fall-out from Wagner’s “3/5” remark. Oh, and they also mentioned the symposium tonight.

The faculty poll is now open, and will run until Friday, April 12. We urge members of the Faculty Senate to allow professors at Oxford College to have a voice.

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Faculty no-confidence vote on Wagner this week

We’ve just received word that the faculty-wide vote on Wagner’s conduct will run from Monday through Friday this week.

The ballot will precede a similar vote by graduate students (administered by the GSC), scheduled for April 16.

Perhaps the Re-Visioning Emory conference will be a catalyst for participation?

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Faculty “confidence” vote confirmed

At a “special” faculty meeting this evening, professors agreed to hold an electronic vote asking the faculty whether they had confidence in James Wagner as the president of Emory. The meeting was prolonged by filibustering efforts and some barely veiled hostility between humanities and sciences faculty members, with social scientists evidently caught in the middle. Apparently, some professors believe taking a principled, protected stand amounts to a “temper tantrum.” The vote is slated to take place…ASAP.

The Student Government Association, on the other hand, opted not to include the referendum question “Do you have confidence in the direction of the University on tomorrow’s election ballot. It was another dragged-out affair: 4 non-voting SRC members came to support Andy Ratto’s bill, which was largely supported by graduate student leaders, but overwhelmingly dismissed by undergraduate representatives and by SGA President Ashish Gandhi.

What’s the significance of all this (well, the faculty referendum, anyway)? SRC member David Mullins reflects on the tense meeting with President Wagner last December. He recalls Wagner saying, “If you wanted a democratic university, you’d need another president and a vote of no confidence.”

So, let’s answer Wagner’s rhetorical question. Do we want a democratic university?

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Wagner and the rhetoric of “truth”

Tomorrow (Wednesday, March 27), faculty members are invited to a “special” meeting concerning the appropriate response to President Wagner’s conduct–including, likely, a vote of no confidence. With that in mind, we’re reprinting SRC member Pat Blanchfield’s op-ed from the online edition of today’s Wheel:

On Truth, Courageous Inquiry and James Wagner
by Patrick Blanchfield

Nearly a century ago, the great American author and social critic Upton Sinclair wrote a withering portrait of the College President of his day. Sinclair’s College President is a manipulative, cynical figure, a smooth operator who effortlessly shuttles between the stuffy lecture halls of academe and the smoky backrooms of the business world, ultimately and solely serving the interests of the latter while modestly taking “the salary of a plutocrat” for his efforts. When faced with faculty opposition, Sinclair’s College President always gets his way, whether by cultivating alliances through flattery and handouts or by mobilizing a “kitchen cabinet” of administrators to discredit opponents, play campus interest groups against each other, and fabricate reasons to eliminate troublesome individuals and programs outright (“Perhaps they find that they have too many men in that department; or they decide to combine the departments of literature and obstetrics.”).

Continue reading

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ILA faculty join critics

“For us in the ILA, President Wagner’s ill-chosen “Three-Fifths Compromise” model has a clear and direct tie to the cuts in academic programs announced last fall. These decisions, in violation of Emory’s established principles of shared governance and of all proper procedure, are immensely damaging to Emory’s much vaunted commitment to diversity. They impact faculty and students of color disproportionately and indicate that President Wagner has, after all, a limited commitment to the ideals of a diverse and mutually respectful University community.”

Read the entire letter in today’s Wheel.

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Psychology faculty, Open Door members denounce Wagner

Nine faculty members in the psychology department have published an open letter to the Board of Trustees in the Wheel. They write of the “shadow of racism” cast over Emory by Wagner’s statement and note that it has been “only the latest example in a series of his actions tarnishing Emory’s academic reputation and standing.” Then they exhort the Board to take action and to initiate a conversation with professors:

Public comment from the Board of Trustees is an essential first step towards undoing this damage. We also strongly encourage the Board of Trustees to reach out to Emory faculty to solicit their input concerning the implications of President Wagner’s leadership for the future of the university.

The Wheel has also received a copy of a March 7 letter sent to Ben Johnson, Chair of the Board of Trustees, on behalf of Open Door Community, a group home and outreach center in the Catholic Worker tradition “that has sought to dismantle racism, sexism and heterosexism for the past 31 years” and that has strong ties to Emory. The ODC’s representatives express their outrage over the “Three-Fifths” editorial, adding:

We would like to stress that this is not solely about President Wagner, but rather about an urgent need for intentional work on the part of Emory University toward the eradication of racism, in which all of us can play a role under your leadership as the chair of Emory’s Board of Trustees. We are also distressed about the recent department cuts at Emory, which disproportionately impact people of color. Whereas only 15 percent of the overall university faculty are of color, the affected departments contain anywhere from 20 to 48 percent faculty of color – and these decisions were made entirely by a group of eight white people.

These letters should be distributed as widely as possible before today’s faculty meeting (4:00 in White Hall), over which President Wagner will preside, and at which the resolution for a vote of no confidence will perhaps be raised.

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