Emory College faculty voted at their monthly meeting last week to establish an independent committee to review the decision-making process that precipitated last semester’s controversial department changes. The motion passed by a margin of just four votes, and many of the faculty at the meeting expressed concerns that looking backward was not an efficient way to move forward. We at the Wheel feel that there is a pressing need to review the process that led to the department changes, and we support the College faculty on their decision to do so.
There has been much confusion on campus regarding the department changes and the community’s outcry has been well-publicized. The lack of transparency, both during the decision-making process and after the changes were announced, on the part of College Dean Robin Forman and the College Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC), which worked with Forman, has done little to clarify the situation. That local and national chapters of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have questioned whether proper procedures were followed is yet another signal that this review should be undertaken.
We also feel that if the decision to suspend and eliminate the various departments was made in the spirit of due process and with the College’s best interests in mind, there should be no reason not to review its process. If the changes were implemented in a fair and well-reasoned manner, such a review will give those who support them a chance to demonstrate the changes’ validity to the Emory community. If, however, they were not, we hope that this review will expose the flaws in the decision-making process and serve as a lesson for the future.
In regards to those professors who believe that looking backwards will not help move the faculty and College forward, it is worth reminding them that this is a university, a place of learning and understanding, exploration and discovery. We must understand the past in order to move into the future without making the same mistakes. Historians and scientists, alike, can agree on such a philosophy.
We support the establishment of a committee to review the department changes, and as journalists we support any venture that seeks to find the truth. We also acknowledge that the committee’s task will not be an easy one. Moving forward, we hope that the review committee will be granted all the powers necessary to conduct a thorough investigation, and we wish the members of this committee the best of luck.