Q: A number of important and sometimes controversial issues have surfaced during the 2007-08 academic year. What is your role in addressing those issues?
A: I think I’m good at delegating. We have a very strong team of administrators here, so I like to see as many issues as possible handled at a lower level. As most people know by now, though, I’m not afraid to wade in on controversial issues, and I feel that generally when things reach the institutional level, it’s a call for my interdiction. I felt that a few issues this year—campus security, sexual harassment and faculty salary funding—were issues that, for good or ill, had risen to the level of institutional need.
Q: Looking at some of those particular issues, what is the status of child care on campus?
A: We hired an outside consulting team that came back to us with four possible models that we could use and I expect by late summer or early fall to have a recommendation from the three senior vice presidents on which way we should go in this matter.
Q: A great deal of media attention focused on cases of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior by faculty. How did the university respond?
A: We ushered three faculty out the door (for violations of the policy). I have no patience for any issues of abuse of a power position and a relationship between a faculty member and a student is a power position. We are pretty conservative around here regarding dating relationships between faculty and students. We have reiterated and strengthened university policy in that area. We initiated the hiring of three ombudspersons to monitor those relationships procedurally—one in student affairs, one in academic affairs and one in human resources.
Q: Last summer, following the Virginia Tech tragedy, you appointed two task forces to look into security on campus. What is the status of their recommendations?
|UGA police Sgt. Rusty Williams’ partner is Marco, a 9-year-old Belgian Malinois. Photo by Nancy Evelyn.
A: Most of those recommendations are now implemented. We have the UGA Alert system up and running. It has been tested, and unfortunately we had a tornado warning recently where it was tested in a real-life scenario. We believe that those natural calamities are a more likely need for the warning than what occurred at Virginia Tech. We strengthened the training of our police force, we added more officers and we added enhanced training for our counselors.
Q: Is this an unusual number of controversies for one year?
A: I think it speaks to the nature of any community anywhere of 50,000 people, and it may be surprising to some that that’s what we are. We have some 35,000 students, almost 10,000 employees and literally thousands of visitors to this campus every day. The same sorts of things go on here, to some extent, that go on in society at large. I think generally the university does a better job than most communities in dealing with these kinds of issues.
Read the child care needs assessment report at www.uga.edu/gsa/ChildCareReport.pdf.
Read the report from the task force on emergency preparedness and communication at www.uga.edu/EPCC_Report.pdf.
Read the Evaluation of Psychological Services Protocols at www.uga.edu/EPSP_Report.pdf.