Evan Mah

If I told you I discovered Saba over the weekend, would that mean anything to you? Who is this Saba? Where is she from? A particular mix of an alcoholic drink, perhaps? Maybe a religion from the tribes of Africa.

The restaurant world is a cruel one. Dining rooms whose servers line the walls anxiously waiting for customers who will never come suffer so because they just aren’t good enough. The prices are too high. Their kitchen is too slow. The dress code is smart casual, but the food is anything but.

In the case of Saba, an unsuspecting sidewalk restaurant with a knack for homemade pastas and dangerously addicting ciabatta bread, it’s only a matter of its obscure location that keeps lines modestly short and maybe even the prices agreeable.

The restaurant is easy to forget about, tucked away in a quiet corner besides Domino’s Pizza practically behind the Emory Village. Not so forgettable is the food.

Last September, the restaurant burned down but later reopened in May. While I did not know Saba pre-fire and what once was, I know Saba now. Inside, a crowd of diners much older than Emory’s 18-to-22 demographic settles into black, wooden tables, and at the front behind a small bar, a waitress waits for them to walk up and place their order. Occasionally, two or three Emory students walk in.

Saba’s menu reads simply and directly without the silly garnishes or pretentious baby carrots. Like a traditional Italian grandmother who’s had two shots of espresso, many of Saba’s dishes take the traditional route but with added kicks.

There’s the surprisingly light four-cheese ravioli, but there’s also the warm and inviting pumpkin and ricotta cheese ravioli in a brown butter sauce. The inspiration for Saba’s spinach ravioli with Thai chicken and peanut curry sauce certainly did not come from anywhere on the Italian peninsula, but the pasta is firm — al dente, if you will — and the sauce nutty in the way Thai sauces often are.

By far the best value on the menu is the lamb ragu with rosemary and mint. Large chunks of tender lamb mingle in a bed of homemade fettuccine noodles. The ragu is sparse yet distinct, coating the noodles in a mint and rosemary sauce. And in typical Italian fashion, the portion size is overly appropriate for only $10.50.

In many ways, the ragu is representative of what Saba stands for. Much like the restaurant, the dish isn’t decorated with over the top frou-frou. It’s simple and domestic, delicious and filling, and as unpretentious as a meal at home in front of the television. You don’t even have a waiter to fill your drink order. That’s your job.

Maybe it’s dangerous praising a restaurant whose lines are usually short and whose dining room always has a table open.

Saba has kept its sauces simmering for long enough. It’s time the Emory community takes a break from late-night Chinese and CVS munchies and brings Saba’s sauces to a boil.

—By Evan Mah, October 4, 2010

Last weekend, I visited my best friend at another top university. I arrived Thursday night and didn’t see a sober person again until I returned to Emory Sunday evening. The experience was jarring and a reminder that the 1962 classic “Animal House” lampoons a world that does exist on college campuses. I know many people who think that this is the only world you should experience in college.

I’m not one of those people.

When I graduate in May, I will do so knowing that I have carved out my own unique college experience. I dedicated my entire college career to this newspaper, and it culminated in a senior year that has shaped me in ways I never expected.

As editor in chief of The Emory Wheel, I had much work to do. What does it mean to run a newspaper? It means spending 40 hours a week solely on an extracurricular. It means ignoring homework and friends to manage crises and people, often crises in themselves. It also means knowing when to breathe for the sake of your own sanity.

When Emory unexpectedly announced the closing of several departments and programs last September, I found myself in a strange position. Administrators knew that the newspaper would play a role in the implementation of the plan while students, faculty and alumni, many angry and bewildered, looked to us for answers. There would be protests and sit-ins, secret meetings and off-the-record conversations. Everyone on this campus had and continues to have a stake in the direction of this University, and I felt dizzy being in the middle of that vortex.

The vortex was often unkind. Outsiders hardly understand the work that goes into a newspaper but nonetheless often rush to label us as stupid, biased, racist, ignorant, lazy and sensational. Being made aware of one failure amid dozens of successes — such is the nature of any leadership position. There will always be those who encourage and those who discourage. Neither are necessarily in the right, but what matters is that there are many different voices in the first place.

Running a newspaper was also a privilege. It was a privilege to have a voice in a community with thousands of brilliant minds, and it was a privilege to be a vital source of information for the uninformed. It was a privilege to learn, grow and bond with my fellow editors.

A former editor-in-chief recently asked me whether I “had fun” this year.

No, not really.

This year was an unpleasant one but nonetheless defined by a rich experience that was demanding and emotionally taxing in ways that go beyond homework and midterms. I’m glad it was all of those things because the real world doesn’t get any kinder, or so I’m told.

There would often be days where at the end of the night I would open the door to my apartment and literally fall to the floor. I’d just lay there, and I’d think, “Jesus, it’s only October.”

Well, now it’s April. I have yet to pull an all-nighter, streak across campus, commit a lewd act in the library, drink wine from a bag or wake up in a place I don’t remember being in the night before.

And that’s okay. It’s okay because after four years at Emory University, I feel ready to graduate and take on the world. You can call me wrong. You can call me naïve, but in my eyes, I think that’s the best college experience anyone could have.

Senior Editor Evan Mah is a College senior from Memphis, Tn.

University President James W. Wagner faced criticism on fronts ranging from the department changes announced last fall to his controversial column this spring and a widening disconnect between the central administration and faculty at the College faculty meeting Wednesday.

Given that the faculty body had censured him at its last meeting and tabled a motion on whether to hold a vote of no confidence, many saw the meeting as pivotal for Wagner’s future as president. Most recently, the departments of psychology and English submitted letters to the Board of Trustees asking them to “reflect deeply on what accountability for such damages would entail from an ethically-engaged university.”

But after Wagner made his remarks and had tense exchanges with various faculty members, the body voted to postpone the discussion of no confidence at a special meeting to be held in two weeks.

While a vote of no confidence would not directly affect Wagner’s position as president of the University, the move would mean that faculty no longer believe he is fit to lead.

At the meeting, Wagner said he has spent the past few weeks consulting with faculty, students, alumni and community leaders like Congressman John Lewis and former President Jimmy Carter. He said he has sought to understand other perceptions of the column, which used the Three-Fifths Clause as an example of political compromise, as well as how the Emory community fell short of its goals and what steps should be taken for healing and for advancement.

“I regret whatever biases may have kept me from seeing the essay as problematic from the beginning,” he said.

In apologizing for the column, Wagner mentioned the importance of “sustained attention on the issues of our community” and listed off ideas that ranged from hosting afternoon conferences to having educators and other university presidents coming to campus to provide expertise.

Wagner also stressed that the University has been hard at work on these issues, citing the work of the Office of Community and Diversity, the James Weldon Johnson Institute, the Transforming Community Project and several presidential commissions.

“Do not misunderstand … I offer these examples not as a defense for my mistake and my shortcomings. Instead I offer them as evidence that we have much to draw from and build upon. We have improved, and we can and must continue to improve,” he said. “… I’m sorry, but I am confident in our future … and I am committed to my personal growth, and I pledge to work more effectively to help secure the kind of community at Emory to which we all aspire.”

Faculty Take the Floor

Once the floor was open for questions, faculty members asked Wagner about the intentions of his column, with many referencing the department changes announced last fall.

One faculty member asked Wagner about what connection he was trying to make in his column and whether he was calling on the liberal arts faculty to compromise in light of the department changes.

Wagner responded that the column was first meant to demonstrate the importance of compromise in reference to the state of politics in the country.

The column’s connection to liberal arts was only that Emory “has a responsibility to prepare people for that ability,” Wagner said.

Another faculty member asked Wagner about his involvement in the specifics of the department changes. Wagner reiterated Emory’s strained resources and a need to redistribute funds to invest in existing strengths. The specifics of the plan, Wagner said, were entrusted to College Dean Robin Forman.

At this point the discussion, faculty members shifted from questions to harsher criticisms.

One faculty member questioned how Wagner could be a proponent of the future of liberal arts when he had no clear vision on the restructuring of the Institute of Liberal Arts, which lost its graduate program in the new plan. The faculty member also held Wagner responsible for the “very low” morale on campus.

“It’s very low because we hear the very lofty ideals that you speak of — the ethically-engaged university, the community involvement — and yet we in our ordinary lives see none of that,” the faculty member said. “… We seem to be moving toward a corporate model in which we of the liberal arts, fine arts and humanities are worried that we are the three-fifths.”

Wagner responded that the specifics of restructuring are the responsibilities of the deans, but that he can still talk to alumni and others about the impact Emory would like to have in these areas. As for morale, Wagner admitted it is low across higher education, given the economic climate. The best way forward, Wagner said, requires an attention on innovation in education.

In one of the tensest moments of the meeting, the next faculty member to speak refocused the attention on Wagner and his column. The faculty member blasted Wagner for portraying Emory to people across the country as “Southern” in a “caricatured way” and for giving people the impression that “such a lack of understanding” actually reflects the mindset of the University.

“Something has been taken away from Emory,” the faculty member said. “So the question that haunts all of us — those of us who believe you to be a good man — is whether you will be able to be the leader on this issue and be able to represent Emory effectively.”

As applause died down, Wagner said he regretted hurting Emory’s reputation and urged faculty, as they deal with students, to distance themselves from his mistake, for which he has been “vilified.”

Taking a broader critique, one faculty member said his confidence in Wagner’s leadership has been on the decline since 2009. The real problem doesn’t concern the column, the faculty member said, but an overall “style of leadership that has created such a gulf between the president and the faculty” in the past few years.

The faculty member first criticized Wagner for his reluctance to build personal relationships with faculty, opting instead to work through the Media Relations office.

The faculty member said concerns started in 2009 when faculty were asked to take a pay cut.

While some faculty and administrators did so, Wagner did not. Citing a Dec. 2012 Chronicle of Higher Education article, the faculty member said Wagner’s salary between 2008 and 2011 increased to make him the 22nd highest paid University president in the country.

“[This happened] precisely during the period when faculty salaries had been flat, when staff were being laid off, when programs were being closed and throughout this country when people unemployed can’t get a job because they can’t afford bus fare to the job interview,” the faculty member said. “I’m saying this to you not to demand an apology. I’m trying to explain to you why your calls for ethically-engaged leadership sometimes fall in counter-cynicisms.”

Given the contradictions over salary, the faculty member concluded by expressing concern over how Wagner will oversee further cuts in the College.

Following strong applause, Wagner first said he has always enjoyed the “richness the faculty provide” before admitting that he doesn’t “pay much attention” to salaries. Wagner said he has never asked for a raise, has on occasion declined raises and in the two past years, accepted only half of the raise that he was offered.

Regarding the department changes, Wagner said the College could not “cut its way to excellence” and must look to other avenues for growth as well, including aggressive fund raising.

At the end of the session, other faculty members continued to point out a disconnect between the faculty body and the central administration. One faculty member perceived the central administration as working “on a distant planet.”

Wagner agreed with the criticisms and shortly after the faculty body voted to end the discussion with him.

Once Wagner had left the room, faculty briefly debated about whether they should discuss the motion of no confidence at the next faculty meeting in April or at a special meeting before that.

As the hour grew late, more faculty left the room. One faculty member then presented a motion that they electronically vote on whether or not to have a vote of no confidence at their next meeting.

The remaining faculty ultimately decided to discuss the motion for a vote of no confidence at a special meeting, which will be held in the next two weeks.

Editor’s Note: Names of faculty members who spoke during the meeting have been omitted, in accordance with the terms that allowed the Wheel to attend the meeting.

— By Evan Mah 

Ninety percent of University President James W. Wagner’s response for his controversial column on compromise has been taken down.

The full statement appears to have been truncated to include only the first 71 words of Wagner’s 687-word response before directing readers to the Emory News Center and an article written by Nancy Seideman, the associate vice president of university communications.

Published in the winter issue of Emory Magazine, the piece sparked local and national outrage two weeks ago when Wagner upheld the Three-Fifths Compromise as an example of political compromise. By Sunday, Feb. 17, Wagner had added a statement to the column, clarifying his opposition to slavery and explaining what he intended to say.

A Google-cached version of the webpage shows that as of Friday, Feb. 22, the full response was still on the page. The page, though, was updated on Sunday, Feb. 24.

Editor of Emory Magazine Paige Parvin responded in an email to the Wheel saying that “based on community feedback, it was obvious that the essential part of President Wagner’s statement was the apology in the first paragraph. The remainder reiterated the argument in his original column and was not adding to the conversation.”

Many, though, found Wagner’s response to be insufficient. As previously reported, at a monthly College faculty meeting, one faculty member criticized Wagner since “part of his explanation was an apology for hurting feelings.”

“We need to be attentive that hurting feelings is not the issue here,” the faculty member said. “It’s not against the law to hurt feelings, but in a democracy, it’s unethical to contribute to the culture of discrimination, and I think that’s what this statement did.”

— By Evan Mah

UPDATED: February 22, 2013

College faculty voted to censure University President James W. Wagner over his controversial column in Emory Magazine at their monthly meeting Wednesday.

A censure, clarified one faculty member, is “an expression that you deplore what he said. [It’s] a little stronger than a reprimand, but not as strong as a vote of no confidence.”

Faculty also voted down the motion to stop the formation of an independent committee to review the department changes announced last fall. As previously reported, the committee will examine the criteria used to cut departments and the communication process by which the plan was carried out, among other concerns.

Faculty members briefly considered voting no confidence in Wagner, but decided to wait until he attends their next meeting in March. Many were unclear about the consequences of a vote of no confidence. The move would have signaled that faculty members no longer believe Wagner is fit to hold the position of president.

Salon spoke with Ben F. Johnson III, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, on Tuesday.

“He has my 100-percent, undivided support,” Johnson reportedly said.

Johnson could not be reached for comment.

Before voting, faculty expressed outrage and grave concern over Wagner’s column, which used the Three-Fifths Clause as an example of political compromise. The clause was an agreement made in 1787 between the Northern and Southern states, stating that only three-fifths of the slave population would be counted for purposes of taxation and voting representation.

The column has drawn immediate national and local criticism, and since Saturday has been discussed on Salon, Gawker, CNN, Esquire and New York Magazine, which labeled the piece as “surely the most disastrous president’s column ever written in a University alumni magazine.”

Once the floor was open to discussion at Wednesday’s meeting, many faculty members remarked that they were appalled and horrified, with one faculty member suggesting that he resign.

“We cannot stand to be represented by someone who has these views,” the faculty member said. “He has no legitimacy and is clearly not up to the job.”

Another faculty member asked what in particular was offensive about the column.

“What I find offensive about the president’s comments is not that compromise is inherently necessary and sometimes desirable, but that that compromise was a model,” the faculty member responded. “He used the word ‘model.’ That’s inexcusable.”

Faculty members added that they were shocked Wagner had to be told that his column was offensive and that he was unaware of the potential backlash.

Faculty members proceeded to express serious discontent over Wagner’s apology, which was added to the column later on Sunday.

“Part of his explanation was an apology for hurting feelings,” a faculty member said. “We need to be attentive that hurting feelings is not the issue here. It’s not against the law to hurt feelings, but in a democracy, it’s unethical to contribute to the culture of discrimination, and I think that’s what this statement did.”

Some faculty members were “more horrified” by comments made by Gary Hauk, vice president and deputy to the president. In Tuesday’s issue of the Wheel, Hauk had said that the editing process was flawed because “all of the eyes on the piece before it was published were white people.”

Another faculty member reported that Wagner had spoken to the Faculty Council on Tuesday and that he understands the situation better than people think.

“The understanding I think is different than what it looks like in the writing,” the faculty member said. “I’m not trying to justify anything or defend anything – I just want to say that that did happen yesterday.”

Another faculty member commented that the University has a habit of making mistakes and then remarking that the community should be proud for acknowledging it.

“The apology should stand by itself, and we should be careful to find something praiseworthy in it,” the faculty member said. “I hope President Wagner doesn’t walk down that path again.”

Faculty members expressed a strong desire that Wagner explain himself to them directly next month.

Citing a busy schedule, Wagner could not be reached for comment.

Department Changes Discussion

The discussion concerning Wagner’s column followed a vote to stop the formation of a committee that would review the department changes announced last fall.

Wednesday marked the third time faculty members have voted on a motion of this kind.

The original motion dates back to the December meeting, with an amendment following in January.

Both of those measures passed by slim margins. The motion on Wednesday to stop the committee ultimately failed 96 to 103.

The debate to rescind the motion was relatively short, given that both sides had presented their arguments in full at the last vote in January.

The faculty member who presented the motion to stop the committee reiterated the belief that the committee would not lead to any “healing or revelations” but only “deepen and make much worse the divisions in this faculty.”

The faculty member also said that the previous two votes did not take place in situations that had the “largest possible representation of faculty.”

In response, the faculty member who first introduced the idea said the committee would “unite the faculty” and that “those people who made the decision should welcome an independent review.”

“People who are opposed to an independent and autonomous review are downplaying the serious harm already done to faculty,” the faculty member said.

On the contrary, another faculty member said the College dean has always had the power to create and eliminate departments.

“This dean is the first to consult with the faculty,” the faculty member said. “We’ve established that he consulted, but we just dislike the outcome.”

In response, a faculty member agreed that the dean does have such power but also expressed a desire to clarify particular rules or procedures concerning confidentiality and adequate representation with future committees that might play a role in such decisions.

Another faculty member added that the formation of the committee could have positive and beneficial consequences.

“We know that we’re going to be facing a variety of challenges in finance and in higher education in the next decade or so,” the faculty member said. “It’s important to understand criteria used for judging departments.”

That same faculty member concluded that the communication process also needs improvement.

“One of the breakdowns, in my opinion, was the difference between knowing something and being warned of something.”

After voting by paper ballot, the motion to rescind failed.

In a moment of comic relief, Stefan Lutz, an associate professor in the Chemistry department and chair of the governance committee, ended the meeting with an announcement that faculty would be have to re-vote on the members to be placed on the committee that is charged to evaluate faculty governance. School servers had crashed overnight and lost the data.

Faculty members erupted in laughter.

“The Emory web team feels absolutely terrible,” he said.

With the exception of Lutz, names of faculty members who spoke during the meeting have been omitted, in accordance with the terms that allowed the Wheel to attend the meeting.

— By Evan Mah at emah@emory.edu

Photo Credit Emory University

This story has been updated to match the version printed in the Feb. 22 issue.

University President James W. Wagner is under fire for a column many have characterized as racially insensitive. The article was published in the winter edition of Emory Magazine.

The column drew immediate local and national criticism, spreading across Twitter and blogs and even catching the eyes of Gawker and Salon, two national media groups whose stories have received a combined 250,000 “likes” on Facebook by Monday night.

In the piece titled “As American as … Compromise,” Wagner discusses how political compromise is an integral part of history and necessary for moving forward. Wagner proceeds to cite the Three-Fifths Compromise, an agreement made in 1787 between the Northern and Southern states not long after the American Revolution. For purposes of taxation and voting representation, states agreed that only three-fifths of the slave population would be counted.

Wagner wrote that the compromise was an example of “pragmatic half-victories [that] kept in view the higher aspiration of drawing the country more closely together.” Both sides were working “to form a more perfect union” and had to “temper ideology” to do so.

In reference to the department changes announced last fall, Wagner concluded his column by citing the debate on Emory’s campus about the well-being of the liberal arts within a research university.

“Different visions of what we should be doing inevitably will compete,” he wrote, “but in the end, we must set our sights on that higher goal — the flourishing liberal arts research university in service to our twenty-first-century society.”

Many students and faculty members expressed disappointment and shock at both the cited example and the manner in which Wagner approached the subject matter.

“He obviously didn’t consider how this would affect black students at Emory,” College sophomore Sammie Scott said. “One would think he’d be more conscious and more cautious in the wake of the Dooley Show incident, and maybe think about the fact that we’re in the middle of Black History Month.”

The departments of African American Studies and History also quickly mobilized to send Wagner a letter expressing their discontent.

“This is the first time that any of us has seen anyone point to the three-fifths clause as an example of what good, right-thinking individuals can accomplish when they avoid ideological fixity,” the letter reads. “It is also, though we are sure unintended, an insult to the descendants of those enslaved people who are today a vital part of the Emory University community and our nation.”

The letter further notes that the compromise itself led to the U.S. Civil War and that there surely are other examples Wagner could have used to demonstrate “civil debate, free exchange and compromise in public affairs.”

Mark Sanders, chairman of the African American studies department, wrote in an email to the Wheel that Emory has hosted a conference on slavery and recently issued a statement of regret for its ties with slavery.

“That conversation was supposed to have promoted deeper reflection on that epoch in American history and its residual effects in the present day,” he wrote. “The president’s use of this example, initially without a critique of the institution of slavery, doesn’t seem to reflect that deeper reflection.”

Later on Sunday, Wagner apologized in a second piece published on the Emory Magazine website and clarified that he did not intend to suggest that he supported slavery in any way.

“I am sorry for the hurt caused by not communicating more clearly my own beliefs,” Wagner wrote. “To those hurt or confused by my clumsiness and insensitivity, please forgive me.”

Calling the compromise “repugnant,” Wagner wrote that he intended for his essay to have two points. He had hoped to demonstrate that the Constitution had to be compromised in order to exist, and that while the document had its weaknesses, it was rooted in a “higher purpose” for the benefit of the nation.

Director of The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation Susan Glisson wrote in an email to the Wheel that while she appreciated Wagner’s swift response, she has certain expectations for institutions of higher learning.

“‘Clumsiness’ about vital and difficult matters, as the president described in his response to the feedback, is not acceptable,” she wrote.

Glisson noted that while she understood Wagner’s larger point about compromise, the column “was undermined by a lack of historical context.”

Student Government Association President Ashish Gandhi said he hopes Wagner uses this moment to address broader topics on campus.

“I think that a lot of students on this campus would also appreciate a more powerful, encompassing statement regarding minorities on campus, regarding affirmative action [and] regarding the struggles of the present and the past when it comes to race,” Gandhi said.

In an interview with the Wheel, Wagner said in retrospect he would have used a different example of compromise.

“What we needed to talk about is restoring compromise to the status of a tool to advance a noble agenda,” Wagner said. “We’ve gotten into a bad place to imagine that the compromiser is the loser of a conversation or an argument.”

Wagner added that while it has been a privilege guiding Emory through a number of difficult moments in its history, “it’s especially painful that this is an insult that I have generated.”

The Editing Process
Many have expressed bewilderment that Wagner, editors at Emory Magazine and other administrators did not consider the potential backlash that could result from the column.

“I think that’s the sad discovery,” Wagner said, “discovering that I was not appropriately sensitive to that.”

Gary Hauk, vice president and deputy to the president, said he often edits Wagner’s columns and that the idea to write this piece stretches back to late October.

The column was submitted to the magazine sometime in early December, according to Hauk.

Hauk admits that at the time, he didn’t foresee any potential issues with the way the column was written.

“As somebody who has been aware of the racial issues on our campus and in our society … I find it distressing that I don’t have the lens to see that that might be a potentially problematic way of couching the argument,” he said. “That’s just something I have to confess. I missed that.”

The process for publication typically involves Wagner sending a draft to Hauk, who offers feedback and edits. The piece is eventually sent to Paige Parvin, the editor of Emory Magazine.

From there, Parvin, Hauk, Vice President for Communications and Marketing Ron Sauder and Executive Director of Emory Creative Group Susan Carini read through the entire magazine.

The editorial process has its flaws, according to Hauk.

“I’ll be frank — one of the issues is that all of the eyes on the piece before it was published were white people,” Hauk said. “That’s an issue, and it’s something going forward we’ll need to be much more conscious about addressing to make sure there are other eyes, other perspectives that we may not be thinking about.”

Parvin refused to comment on the story and directed all questions to Emory Media Relations.

Hauk said he agrees with criticisms that the Three-Fifths Compromise was a “bad example” and that “other examples could have been used.” Hauk, though, disagrees with those who believe the piece is evidence of a racist University.

“I don’t agree with the extrapolation that this is evidence that Emory is still living the 1940s or trying to catch up with the rest of the nation,” said Hauk, who believes Emory has often led the discussion on sensitive issues. “Emory has taken as many lumps for liberalism as it has for what is perceived to be, erroneously in my mind, a reactionary, benighted view of the world.”

Moving Forward
Wagner said he has no intention of releasing any other statements on the matter. He is, instead, focused on those initiatives at Emory that demonstrate a commitment to creating a healthy community. Wagner cited the work of the Committee on Class and Labor and the Advisory Council on Community and Diversity.

Several faculty members, though, have expressed concern that the column has damaged Emory’s reputation.

“The University is trying to improve its relations with the larger Atlanta community, particularly the black community,” wrote Sander, a professor in the African American Studies department. “And Emory is trying to present itself as a preeminent university that helps to lead in national conversations on pressing issues of the day. This article’s lack of historical insight tends to undermine many of these efforts.”

Pamela Scully, who chairs the department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, said she was also disappointed by the column and believes that it reflects poorly on Emory.

“It is a pity, because there is much at Emory which is great,” she wrote in an email to the Wheel. “Emory under President Wagner has sought to atone for its slaveholding past and anti-Semitism. It is trying to move forward, but I fear this has set us back.”

Wagner shared a positive perspective on the situation.

“I think the good news for Emory is that much of this attack is personally directed towards me,” he said. “I hope that’s suggesting to me that people understand that Emory is an institution and can be separated from this personal act.”

Wagner concluded by stressing the importance of his Presidential Commissions.

“Part of the value of Presidential Commissions is to ensure that those of us who don’t have sensitivities in the LGBTQ community or as a racial minority, woman, elderly — we do need help in understanding those sensibilities,” Wagner said. “I think I’ve been educated through this process.”

The controversial column coincides with Civil Rights leaders and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who are coming to campus on Friday to open an exhibit in the Robert W. Woodruff Library.

— By Evan Mah 

Executive Editor Arianna Skibell, News Editor Nicholas Sommariva, Asst. News Editor Karishma Mehrotra, and Associate Editors Jordan Friedman and Elizabeth Howell contributed reporting.

By the slimmest of margins, College faculty voted in favor of an independent review committee that would investigate the decision-making process that led to the department changes announced last semester. The motion, which passed on Wednesday at the monthly faculty college meeting, set specific guidelines and clarified the original version of the resolution passed in December. The final vote passed 88 to 84.

Faculty also voted to create a committee to examine faculty governance in the College and potentially recommend structural reforms. The motion, which passed almost unanimously, is a clarification of the initial motion, which originally passed in December as well.

The approximately 200 professors in attendance got down to business quickly, first discussing the details of the committee that would examine faculty governance. The first faculty member to speak questioned whether the motion was too broad, believing that “many parts of the college governance are working quite well.” Some faculty members also requested that the motion be amended to specify areas of concern.

Others disagreed, noting that the very point of the committee would be to determine what is “broken” and investigate “parts that may need change.”

“Sometimes when you take your kids to the pediatrician, they stick a thermometer in them and say 98.6 [degrees], everything is okay,’” said one faculty member. “So for some of those things you’re saying that aren’t broken, you put the thermometer in and if the thermometer comes out normal, you move on [to] the next thing.”

One faculty member pointed out that the proposed committee did not address governance issues between the College and the Laney Graduate School (LGS).

The speaker questioned how “a college finance committee could eliminate graduate programs” and asked how the new committee would intersect with the Executive Council of the LGS.

After some deliberation, the room voted and approved an amendment that would have the committee “review the relationship between faculty governance in the College and other governing bodies in the University, including the Laney Graduate School.” The room also voted to charge the committee with making a presentation to the full faculty in fall 2013 before the release of its full report and findings in spring 2014.

The next item on the agenda aimed to set procedures for another committee that would review the “processes, procedures and criteria by which the [department changes] were reached in order to ascertain whether accepted procedural standards were followed,” according to the resolution.

According to the resolution, the committee would review how members of the College Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC) were chosen; how the group gathered information to review departments; how metrics for evaluation were constructed; how CFAC reported its activities; how recommendations were made to the Administration; and whether “avenues for appeal … by the affected faculty … were provided.” The resolution goes on to note that the committee “may also make recommendations about policies to be adopted in the future when program closures or discontinuances are proposed.”

Given that the next item on the agenda was to rescind this very motion, faculty members took strong positions about whether looking back would be a healthy way forward. The initial motion barely passed in December.

The resolution’s author took the floor first.

“For a financial advisory committee to be making these decisions … and not bringing in the educational policy committee or the curriculum committee is a fundamental subversion of our standing governing procedures,” the faculty member said. “… But more importantly, one after another of our colleagues has stood up and said ‘I don’t understand why this happened.’ If for no other reason, I think we should review processes so that we give people who have lost their jobs and livelihoods an answer as to why precisely this happened.”

In turn, dissenting faculty members made a number of points ranging from a belief that proper procedures were followed to concerns that the motion would “cause a lot of work … and keep the fires burning” but not actually be a step forward. One faculty member compared the process to a clinical psychologist asking a recently divorced couple what happened to their marriage.

“I think you agree it would be toxic,” the faculty member said. “I think this is a toxic amendment. I think the amendment we just voted on was a very positive one. This one will do nothing but stir up the limbic system.”

Supporters responded that it would be toxic not to review the decisions and that if the process was truly legitimate, then the community should be “open to a review of that process so we can truly move forward.” Supporters also stressed that the review is not an attempt to “cast dispersions upon those involved.”

“It’s not about the past. It’s about the present,” said one faculty member. “I’ve heard from the Dean and the President that more changes are coming. More is coming. This is ongoing, and I think that this process will help us find a better process sooner rather than later.”

As the time to vote approached, it appeared as if the motion would pass quite easily. This would not be the case, and faculty members voted that the vote for the motion be conducted by paper ballot, instead of a show of hands.

The motion passed by four votes, and considering that many left the meeting after casting their ballot, the remaining group decided that they would adjourn the meeting until next month.

Names of faculty members who spoke during the meeting have been omitted, in accordance with the terms that allowed the Wheel to attend the meeting. 

— Contact Evan Mah at emah@emory.edu


Graduation is just four months away, but seniors are already making reservations for their celebration dinners. It is a momentous occasion, and a prime opportunity for many students to capitalize on their parents’ generosity one more time before becoming adults and having to deal with things like rent and a job and life. Of course, kudos to those who already deal with these things. We do not envy you. For the rest of us, here are eight suggestions that will not disappoint. Cheers.


Empire State South

(404) 541-1105

Canadian homeboy and Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson has made a name for himself in Georgia. Acheson’s flagship restaurant in Athens, Five & Ten, is still up and running, but the culinary world didn’t truly turn its head until he opened Empire State South three years ago. Ryan Smith now wears the chef’s hat, but the kitchen continues to impress with its creative, modernist take on Southern cuisine. Think bacon marmalade over pimento cheese or crispy sweetbreads with rice gnocchi. The airy dining room breathes warm Southern comfort and makes for a cozy experience when taking down their six-course tasting menu.



(770) 432-2663

North of Decatur in Vinings on the Chattahoochee River there sits a quiet culinary safe haven called Canoe. With arching trees and lush green grass, Canoe is among its own botanical garden and has been impressing customers since the early ‘90s. Chef Carvel Grant Gould and her staff have been there the entire time, dazzling customers with charming Southern comfort and updated classics. These days it’s difficult to pin down a kitchen to one cuisine or another, but contemporary American with a Southern twist just might do it for Canoe. The current menu boasts lamb shank with kale, slow roasted Carolina rabbit with bacon ravioli and pan seared arctic char with a coconut rice cake.


Bone’s Restaurant

(404) 237-2663

When I think of classic, old-school steakhouses, I think of Bone’s. In my mind, I see a dimly-lit dining room with white tablecloth once shrouded in cigar smoke. I see fat businessmen in black suits drinking tawny ports, sharp scotches and expensive wine from California and France. I also see giant steaks beautifully charred. I see medium-rare. I see large sides of onion rings and garlic mashed potatoes. I see happiness. And then I see the bill, and I’m glad I’m with my parents.


Kevin Rathbun Steakhouse

(404) 524-5600

Kevin Rathbun is the King of Steaks, and his steakhouse is for the modern carnivore who reads GQ while also enjoying a hefty ribeye. The dining room is big elegance with lofty ceilings and youthful vibes. And for a steakhouse, the non-steak options are rather numerous. Beyond the towers of seafood weighed down by Alaskan king crab and oysters on the half shell, there’s ahi tuna and bass, scallops and flounder.


Local Three

(404) 968-2700

Don’t let the location throw you off on this one. Local Three is hard to find, tucked away among and inside office buildings. Once down the cold corporate hallway that leads to a giant wooden door, you will find an underground party. Between his love for “The Big Lebowski” and pigs, Chef Chris Hall knows how to have a good time. The menu has a tendency to lean heavily on Asian influences, but just when you think an Asian BBQ pork shoulder with kimchi goes too far east, Hall throws down shrimp and cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon. Delicious and fun.



(404) 365-0410

Bacchanalia is one of the last refuges for thoroughly classic and proper dinner service with a prix-fixe menu. This is real fine dining, and while it has been uneven on delivery in my experience, it is, nonetheless, a good time. The menu is set at five courses per person with various small “gifts” in between. On my last visit, hand cut pappardelle showered in black truffles and crispy red snapper in a smooth cream sauce were superb culinary moments. The price-tag is a sturdy $85 a person, but that’s what you pay for eating at one of Atlanta’s finest restaurants.


Sotto Sotto

(404) 523-6678

On one visit to Sotto Sotto, I turned around to find Betty White and Jennifer Love-Hewitt standing behind me. The place must be good if celebrities eat here, right? This Inman Park gem serves up refined Italian cuisine in a cozy and intimate setting. Ravioli stuffed with veal, chicken and pork in a butter-sage sauce, risotto with caramelized onions and sharp, 12-year-old balsamic vinegar and even chocolate soup make for a wonderful meal. Sotto Sotto also has the best Italian wine list in the city. Drink up.


4th & Swift

(678) 904-0160

Like so many other restaurants in Atlanta, 4th & Swift labels itself a “modern American.” I still wrestle with what that means, but in my mind I imagine simply-cooked fish, lots of pig (bacon and pork) and locally sourced vegetables. 4th & Swift hits all of these things in a dramatic setting that puts white tablecloths inside a stark warehouse.


— By Evan Mah

Emory College faculty have voted in favor of conducting a review of the departmental changes announced in mid-September. The motion to nominate and elect faculty members to an independent review board was brought up at the last faculty meeting before winter break and passed 64 to 54.

While details of the review process will be decided in the coming weeks, faculty members expressed a desire to know how the decision-making process was carried out, with specific attention on the Governance Committee, which is the main governing faculty body, and the College Financial Advisory Committee, the group College Dean Robin Forman worked closely with. The new committee will not be looking into reversing the changes, a request that top administers have denied repeatedly.

Faculty members also voted in favor of reviewing Emory’s governance structure to consider deeper structural changes to address what some perceive as a breakdown in faculty governance,

“We need to feel more empowered as a faculty,” one faculty member said at the meeting.

The meeting began with a presentation from the chair of the Governance Committee Stefan Lutz, also an associate professor in the chemistry department, on possible improvements to the College’s governance structure. Lutz suggested ways to improve communication between faculty and administrators, and to address representation issues on various committees. Once the floor opened for discussion, faculty members agreed that serious reforms, not minor tweaks, were needed.

While the motion to reevaluate the College’s governance structure passed easily, the motion to review the department changes led to intense debate. Some faculty felt the motion itself was out of order since it wasn’t on the agenda, which was set before the meeting. One faculty member expressed unease at supporting a motion without confirming explicit details on the nature of the plan.

“We’re doing this on the fly,” one faculty member said. “This is the very opposite of deliberative faculty governance, and I object to it.”

Some faculty members objected to reviewing CFAC and its deliberations, stressing that the focus should be on moving forward, not looking back at what happened. Supporters reiterated that the goal would be to understand what happened to avoid making the same mistakes again in the future.

“I don’t see why we can’t go forward and also look backward,” one faculty member said. “It’s not our nature not to ask what happened. And I don’t think we want — five years, 10 years, 20 years from now — for people to look back at Emory and say, ‘Well, they just wiped out these programs, but why? You know, they never really figured that out. It was just a mystery.”

Forman announced early last semester that the College and Laney Graduate School would be closing or suspending several programs and departments in the next two years.

The next College faculty meeting is set for Wednesday, Jan. 23.

Names of faculty members who spoke during the meeting have been omitted, in accordance with the terms that allowed the Wheel to attend the meeting.

 — Contact Evan Mah at emah@emory.edu

Emory’s main governing faculty body has rejected the notion that “faculty governance was done improperly” in response to criticisms from a national organization that supports academic freedom at universities.

The national office of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) sent a letter to University President James W. Wagner in December in support of AAUP members at Emory calling for a full review of the department changes. The local group consists of more than 60 Emory faculty and former administrators and is part of a national organization comprised of more than 500 campus chapters.

College Dean Robin Forman, who spearheaded the changes, first announced the reallocation of resources and closing of programs and departments within the College and Laney Graduate School in a Sept. 14 University-wide email.

Former and current chairs of the Governance Committee reject the AAUP’s claim that the University did not follow AAUP-recommended procedural standards.

“The Governance Committee has held faculty meetings in response to the College restructuring, has met with faculty representatives of the affected departments and has decided that the procedures followed were in fact appropriate,” the letter reads.

The letter stressed the College Financial Advisory Committee’s legitimacy in making the decisions before elaborating on the basis for them.

“It is surprising that you would identify those decisions as curricular rather than financial, because they were clearly made out of financial necessity,” the letter reads.

The letter also criticized the AAUP for sending a letter to Wagner first “without the common courtesy of communicating with those involved in faculty governance in the College.”

Earl Lewis, Emory’s former provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, also responded to the national AAUP on behalf of the University just before his retirement. Lewis wrote that the University abided by the bylaws of Emory College Faculty and that Gov. Com, as elected faculty representatives, was a proper avenue for consultation regarding the department changes.

Lewis also noted that the decisions cannot be described as “purely ‘educational’ or ‘financial.’”

“They are decisions about our academic priorities and aspirations in the face of a continuing set of intense financial challenges,” he wrote. “They are designed to ensure the financial health and sustainability of Emory College…as it pursues its academic aspirations in both scholarship and teaching.”

Whether the motives behind the department changes are rooted in either finances or curriculum has been a lingering question since September. In an interview with the Wheel, Forman said that the decision was “not about addressing the financial challenges we’ve faced. Rather, we feel like we’ve emerged from under the yoke of those financial pressures and can begin to think again what are we trying to accomplish [at Emory].”

Forman has said that the College is in a unique position since it has no reserve fund, no debt and has projected a balanced budget for 2013 FY. The College had been operating at a multi-million dollar deficit for years, and, in the process of paying off its debt, exhausted its reserve fund, resources typically used for faculty recruitment and renovations as well as other operating costs. By that same token, the College had no financial flexibility. The department changes, though, will free up an estimated $4.5 million to be invested into other programs.

With regards to the letter from the national AAUP, Forman said that the content did not reflect any independent research but rather was commentary on the information sent to them by the local AAUP chapter.

“The letter from our local chapter has some important questions that we do need to answer but it also contains some incomplete or misleading statements,” he said. “Our first order of business is to clarify things and try to create a space in which we can really focus on those questions that deserve our attention.”

Barbara Ladd, a professor in the English department and president of the local Emory AAUP chapter, remains hopeful that the University will agree to a faculty review of the decisions, a move which the national AAUP office supports. Should the call for a review go unanswered, it is possible that the national office will conduct its own investigation.

“It is the kind of investigation that would probably take a couple of years,” Ladd said. “It’s a very serious undertaking with very serious consequences.”

—Contact Evan Mah at emah@emory.edu
Dustin Slade contributed reporting

Update: 1/18/12 1:55 a.m. The original print story did not include the exert from Provost Lewis.

Follow Us