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October 2013

What we’re about

Suite 404 in the Administration Building marks the physical location of the provost’s office at Emory, but the people, ideas, and initiatives that flow in and out of our doors extend across the campus and well beyond. From big plans to little curiosities, this journal gives you a flavor of all things related to the Office of the Provost and the rich academic life that makes Emory Emory.

What does the provost do?

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Emory Suite 404. Today we need to think long and hard before starting a new publication. None of us needs more clutter in our inbox. These are times of rapid change in academic life, not only on the national stage but also here at Emory. As we embrace the opportunities and challenges that economic realities, technologies, emerging research, and disruptive innovation bring to our campus, I wanted a regular way to share with our community some of the people, ideas, and strategies that are guiding Emory in this exciting time. This journal is meant to give you a behind-the-scenes peek at Emory’s rich academic life.

I get many questions about what I do as provost, so we’re starting with the basics in this first issue of the Suite. This video introduces you to the Office of the Provost. Our mission is to nurture the intellectual life at Emory, and that includes engaging and promoting our community of faculty, students, and staff. It also involves telling our stories.

That’s where Emory Suite 404 comes in. We have no shortage of inspiring stories to tell from across the campus. You’ll be reading about those here and in future issues, and we invite you to share your feedback with us at provost@emory.edu.

Happy reading,
Claire E. Sterk
Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs

It’s academic

Hang around Dorothy Brown for a while, and you’re bound to hear her say, “It is what it is.” She’s even got a sign with the phrase in her office in Suite 404.

What it is when it comes to Brown is a no-nonsense, straight-talking, savvy, and funny administrator. Those adjectives aren’t often used in combination to describe an administrator and tax lawyer, but Brown is anything but typical. She’s got a broad swath of experience as a Wall Street investment banker, US law clerk, political appointee to HUD, law professor at three universities, and, yes, an administrator. Currently she is vice provost of academic affairs and professor of law at Emory.

Brown quotes the late Amy Winehouse in describing her first response to an offer to work in administration: no, no, no. Previously she served as associate dean for research at Washington and Lee, and she thought, “quite frankly, once was enough.” But the opportunity to work on all facets of the academic life of the university made her change her mind.

Brown—who holds a JD and LLM (tax)—nurtures the intellectual life of Emory faculty all the way from recruitment through emeritus status. She oversees the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, Center for Women, Center for Community Partnerships, Equal Opportunity Program, and the Emeritus College.

“Throughout my career, I’ve always been interested in issues of higher education,” Brown says, “but never more so than now when higher education is undergoing a significant transformation.”

When she’s not working on academic affairs, Brown can be found in the classroom, teaching a class on tax law or a seminar on race and law. “I enjoy teaching,” she says. “It’s the one part of my job that I would do for free.”

Table talk

“I’m here to listen and learn.” With those words, Provost Sterk launched the first session of a new conversation series, In Dialogue. In Dialogue brings the idea of kitchen table wisdom to Emory’s campus as the provost invites faculty to join her table-side to discuss their ideas, aspirations, and concerns. Ten sessions of small group conversations are taking place during the fall semester, and more will follow in the spring semester.

Some common themes emerged in the first sessions, which drew participants from business, the college, medicine, public health, and theology. For one, Emory faculty have a strong desire to collaborate across silos, and they want an infrastructure and better processes to enable collaboration. They asked for greater transparency in strategic decision making and, in general, they want more communication between administration and faculty.

Faculty reflected on the complexities surrounding research administration. Another conversation highlighted the symbiotic relationship between Emory Healthcare and the School of Medicine, with participants noting that the academic and the clinical arms of each help the reputation of the other.

Business and theater faculty connected over shared ideas for innovation in their respective disciplines. Both, after all, involve communicating, teamwork, listening, and relevance. One theater professor, who advises his students to think of their future careers as startups, was energized about having business faculty teach entrepreneurship skills in his theater classes. “You can give my students the skills to enable their startups to start up,” he said.

With more sessions scheduled for the semester, the table wisdom will continue to grow.

Worth Repeating

“The liberal arts aren’t necessarily about getting the right answer. The unanswerable questions can lead us to conversations of wisdom. What was Mona Lisa thinking? Why couldn’t Hamlet kill his stepfather?”

—Emory College Dean Robin Forman at the fall forum on the liberal arts

On our radar

When in Rome What would Vincent Buononno take from his house if it were on fire? Many of the maps, etchings, and rare books currently on display through November 17 at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Art. The exhibit—Antichità, Teatro, Magnificenza—showcases rare works from Buononno’s large collection as well as works from Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, & Rare Book Library. Viewers experience the Eternal City from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries not only through intricately detailed works on paper but also through a virtual representation that lets them walk through the streets and piazzas of Roma.

The health of the liberal arts Wander through Emory’s medical education building, and you’ll find large lecture halls, simulation labs and, yes, a practice room for musicians. That room is just a small, tangible sign of the importance of the liberal arts to health sciences at Emory. “The intellect that is pursuing new things is what leads us to having an impact in all fields,” said Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Wright Caughman, who served as a panelist during a fall forum of the Commission on Liberal Arts that was cosponsored by the Office of the Provost. His words reflect those of another panelist, President James Wagner: “Through the liberal arts, we are preparing life-ready citizens.”