Tag Archives: Wheel

SRC member details harassment by Wagner

Elizabeth Hennig was one of two undergraduate students present at the “negotiation” meeting with President Wagner, Dean Forman and VP Gary Hauk. Last week, she submitted an op-ed to the Emory Wheel recounting what she described as harassment during the meeting. Her article was included in Friday’s print edition, but removed from the Wheel web page the day of publication.

Here it is.

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Thanks, Claude

An inspiring comment on David Mullins’s exhortation to walk out in the Wheel:

"The last time I demonstrated at Emory it was about the war in Vietnam and the first Earth Day."

Still think Emory’s an apolitical Southern school?

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State of the University

A few more disclosures in the Wheel should galvanize students and faculty to attend President Wagner’s State of the University address today (Tuesday), at 4:30 in the Winship Ballroom.

In that same report from the Faculty Senate to the Governing Committee in January 2009, the minutes on Wagner’s position are minimal and read: “Cut inferior, boost superior.”

Wagner said that program directors, chairs, deans and trustees all had roles to play and cited Princeton University as an excellent university without a medical school, public health school, business school or law school. “[Princeton’s] excellence is narrow,” he said, according to the minutes.

Funny, I didn’t notice anything about cutting the medical school or any other bodies outside the Faculty of Arts and Science.

We also learn a bit more about the CFAC/FFAC, and what “oversight but no jurisdiction” looks like. In the spring of 2011, the Governing Committee advised that

“candidates should not currently hold positions that might be perceived as representing a conflict of interest, an effort should be made to preserve representation of Lecture Track faculty, and it is desirable, though not imperative, that more than one CFAC member not be from the same department.”

None of those recommendations were taken into account.

The Wheel obtained this information from the official GovComm minutes, but only with the intercession of an anonymous faculty member. It seems that after 2010, “upon reviewing the policy of other universities” (Princeton again?), Emory decided not to be accountable to anyone make its minutes available to the public.

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Get your cringing muscles limbered

Evan Mah at the Wheel: Faculty Clash with Forman at Meeting.

An AAUP representative told the crowd to expect an official statement soon.

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Journalism students’ accomplishments

What counts as prestige for a college program in a depressed economy? Students landing high-paying jobs or being admitted to prestigious graduate programs? Celebrity professors? How about making a material contribution to the integrity of government?

David Michaels and Aaron Gregg, recent alumni, describe the work journalism courses allowed them to pursue before they even graduated. One wrote a front-page story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution exposing legislators who accepted illegal gifts from lobbyists in 2011. Another produced a series of articles for an online news site uncovering the Georgia State Senate Minority Leader’s involvement in offshore gambling. They also mention a classmate whose web-based publication led to an ethics investigation and a criminal investigation against a state senator.

Did I mention that “before they graduated” part?

Michaels and Gregg point out that before Emory’s PR caught on to their hard work, Emory was not altogether supportive:

Not long after our class began contacting story subjects in the legislature regarding the document-based findings of our investigations, we were told by University administrators that we would not be able to publish our stories on an Emory platform. In response to a letter we wrote to Forman pleading for the University to allow us to publish our work, the dean said that it was the administration’s job to “understand that role fully before taking it on.” […] The administration also told us that our work was not covered by the University’s liability insurance, although we were not allowed to see the policy. [Cough, cough. -Ed.] Over the summer, weeks after we had already published our work with outside media outlets, the University changed its tune again and agreed that an Emory website could be set up to link to our stories. But the excitement of that development was short-lived, as the news of the department’s elimination came just two weeks into the following semester.

We wish all Emory alumni the best in their endeavours, and hope more will come forward to defend the liberal arts. Write to the press, post a #MyEmoryCutStory on YouTube, and think carefully the next time you receive a letter asking for your donations.

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Forman backtracks on student involvement

Evan Mah, Arianna Skibell and Leon Kohl continue their excellent reporting on the cuts and their institutional meaning. He takes us back in time to 2010, when Forman was the newly appointed Dean of Undergraduates at Rice University. (Thinking that was fast? Even Forman admitted he doesn’t know Emory all that well.) At the time, Rice supported the creation of a student-run Budget Planning Committee, which would report to the dean and the financial officers on student interests and ways to protect vital programs.

In fact, Forman now claims he “came under some criticism for allowing the students [at Rice] too large a role in those budget cuts.”

Two recession- and educational-turmoil-addled years later, at Emory, does he still believe students should have a say in the fate of their college (as is the case at Rice, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Chicago, Stanford and many other institutions)? Forman says yes, but suggests Emory is particularly difficult because of the structure of the college (?) or the resources available to student leaders.

Emory has 5 student-faculty committees, including a Curriculum Committee. None of them, however, have any official standing with the College Dean, and none were contacted in regard to the cuts. Since being interviewed by Mah, Forman has promised to work harder on strengthening communication, while implying the process will have little or no bearing on the current run of department closures.

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More insights from the Wheel

In the jargon of the Occupy Wall Street movement, College undergraduate Egan Short writes, “In closing or downsizing the journalism major, visual arts department, and the ILA, the Emory administration has preemptively attacked potential zones of dissent on campus.”

Fiza Pirani of the journalism program reminds us that Emory was recently named the #1 American college for writers by USA Today. (Eminent enough for you?)

WGSS graduate student Mairead Sullivan, who has previously described the implicit racism behind the cuts at our rallies, brings the statistics to a wider audience: “According to Emory’s 2009 Diversity profile report [pdf], only 7 departments reported over 25% faculty of color. Of these 7 departments, 4 are up for cuts.” Moreover, since most of them are recent hires, up to 75% of the professors and lecturers of color in Educational Studies, Physical Education, Russian and East Asian Languages, and Spanish and Portuguese are liable to lose their jobs.

Finally, College junior Rhett Henry considers the #EmoryCuts student movement itself:

“I was worried that there would not be much of a response from the student body. I’m glad to have been proven wrong. What now troubles me is the nature of the reaction. It is a blend of evocative populism and calls for greater transparency in administrative decision-making. On these points I agree. What concerns me is that, in reaching for a solution to the long-term issue of student-administration communication, the immediate problems facing the student body over the next few years have fallen to the wayside.

I want to help groups like #EmoryCuts to talk about the issues in a way that goes for the gut, as it were.

I’m not entirely sure immediate, practical battles can be disentangled from ongoing questions about the culture at Emory and in the higher education world at large. In fact, being able to reach beyond one’s own moment is one of the things the liberal arts prides itself on, and, yes, one of the reasons it gets called impractical. Nonetheless, it’s worth asking ourselves: What practical, immediate strategies have already been taken? What else could we or others be doing?

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Braswell: Cuts betray students

In today’s Wheel, Harold Braswell, PhD candidate in the ILA, gets to the heart of the matter once again:

“Traditional” disciplines teach students critical skills to question, reformulate, and, if necessary, reject “tradition,” but they do not advocate an adherence to tradition for tradition’s sake. These very fields thus undermine Dean Forman’s stated reasons for preserving them.

In methodological and demographic terms, Dean Forman’s decision excises the margins from the Emory community. But the margins represent the true heart of the university tradition. The university tradition is grounded in its critical distance from both “tradition” and popular demand.

Additionally, first-year student Brett Lichtenberg shares the way he’s learned to “make the best out of the cuts.” support he’s gotten from his advisers in the journalism program. In a show of dedication, professors David Armstrong and Hank Klibanoff have tried to permit first-year journalism students to complete a minor or co-major in the program by spring 2014. Said permission isn’t official, though: Klibanoff later explained that he had merely won “the right for you to make a case” for completing the program.

Lichtenberg also remarked (in a somewhat different context) that noted Holocaust and Jewish historian Deborah Lipstadt has described Emory as “overall pretty apolitical.” The bulk of the issue and the culture around here say otherwise.

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Disclosures re: Faculty Financial Advisory Committee

Evan Mah at The Emory Wheel goes into some of the talks that have been happening behind the scenes for the past 4 years, culminating in what looked to the rest of the faculty and students like a sudden announcement.

The Faculty Financial Advisory Committee was established in the 2007/2008 year in response to what were then the early days of a nationwide recession (but before the worldwide market crisis of September 2008). It was comprised of 8 faculty members, none of whom were part of any of the departments that ultimately incurred cuts. Michael Giles, of political science, was the chair.[1]

The committee set to evaluating the various academic departments in terms of their running costs, enrollment numbers, reputations, and (more amorphous) value and viability. Giles explains:

“Thinking in terms of scholarly distinction and potential for eminence of programs, how much does it take to move a program up? Some are more costly than other,” Giles said. “How distinguished is a department? What’s its role in the liberal arts? How essential is it? If it’s excised, can you still have a viable liberal arts program? Interdependence [with other departments] goes into that [criteria] as well.”

Giles also said that a key consideration was a department’s centrality in the liberal arts. Without mathematics, for example, physics and biology would be undermined.

Many readers of this blog will no doubt take issue with the findings: Is Spanish, with high demand and a nearly 100% job placement rate for its PhD graduates, not central or distinguished enough? How about the ILA, the first interdisciplinary PhD program in the U.S.? Or the economics department, whose U.S.-wide ranking improved by about 30 points over the last decade (placing it among the top 50 nationwide)?

Hank Klibanoff, chair of the journalism program, takes the committee to task for its refusal to communicate its goals and fears openly, especially at the height of the financial crisis. Giles maintains that greater transparency would have caused “widespread panic.”

(I was here in 2008. I doubt that one more voice, speaking rationally and factually, could have generated any more panic than the constant flow of rumors or the culture at large.)

The Wheel also includes a graph of the “Number of students affected by department cuts,” which we believe is misleading (especially in regard to the undergraduate figures). The number of majors is not an accurate measure of impact, given elective courses, on-campus visibility and public conferences, the amount of teaching done by grad students, and the impact of departments’ research and publications.

 

 

[1] The other members were Keith Berland of physics; Huw Davies of chemistry; Dean Forman; Pam Hall and Bobbi Patterson of religion; Stefan Lutz of chemistry; and Associate Dean Rick Rubinson of sociology.

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