SSE Executive Committee Meeting

August 21, 2009

9:00 AM – 2:30 PM Minutes

Present: Altiero, Chen, Gaver, Heins, John, Kalka, McGuire, McPherson, Nelson, Oertling, Parker, Ruscher, Schmehl, Tasker, Wee

Absent: Engleman, Koplitz 

Guest: Busby

SSE Web Site

Dean Nick Altiero demonstrated the new School of Science and Engineering web site. Everyone agreed that this is a marked improvement over the old site. A number of suggestions and corrections were made and the group was asked to submit any additional suggestions for improvement to Candy Guedry, Senior Program Coordinator in the Office of the Dean.

Freshman Welcome Activities

Dean Altiero went over the events that are associated with freshman welcome week. In particular he asked that as many faculty members as possible attend the School of Science and Engineering Open House, scheduled for Saturday, August 22, 4:30 PM – 5:45 PM, in the lobby of the Lindy Boggs Center. Nearby rooms will be assigned to the various degree programs so that incoming freshmen will be able to locate faculty members in their areas of interest. Nearly 500 first-time freshmen and transfer students have identified themselves as science or engineering majors.

SSE Faculty Meeting

The first SSE faculty meeting of the academic year is scheduled for Thursday, August 27, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM, in room 212 Lavin Bernick Center.    At this meeting, each of the Department Chairs should be prepared to introduce their new faculty members and to say a few words about each. It was agreed that this should include tenure-track faculty, professors of practice, research professors, and visiting professors. Mention should also be made of any new faculty who will be joining the School in January. The agenda of the meeting will include a School update and plans for the year ahead, election of a representative to the FTFR, other committee assignments, and SACS preparation. Suggestions for other agenda items should be submitted no later than August 25.

Academic Year Outlook

Dean Altiero recapped 2008-09 and gave a general overview of expectations for 2009-10. The status report included trends in undergraduate enrollment, graduate enrollment and research funding, and the rapid expansion of K-12 STEM outreach activities. In the coming year, special emphasis will be placed on doctoral student recruiting and expansion of the schoolʼs outreach activities to include technology transfer and business development.


The university is planning to return to a decentralized budget structure in fiscal year 2011 or fiscal year 2012. In anticipation of this change, the School of Science and Engineering will re- structure its own budget model. During the coming year, the group will discuss how departmental budgets will be determined in the future with the envisioned budget model striking a balance of stability and performance incentives for the individual departments. It is anticipated that the school will have a new budget model ready for implementation immediately upon decentralization of the university budget.

Faculty and Staff Hiring

Due to economic conditions, the university has imposed a temporary faculty and staff hiring freeze. The School of Science and Engineering has three ongoing faculty searches that will continue at this time but no new searches will be authorized. There are no current staff searches. Last year, the school developed a “staff hiring plan” to address critical staffing needs; this plan will be resurrected as soon as the staff hiring freeze is lifted.

SACS Accreditation

Katie Busby was introduced as the new Director of Institutional Assessment in the Office of Academic Affairs. Dr. Busby gave a PowerPoint presentation titled “Tulane University SACS Accreditation Re-Affirmation,” which was later emailed to the group. In her presentation, she gave an overview of the accreditation process, outlined what is required in the way of program assessment plans and faculty credentialing, and described the university resources that are available to assist in the assessment process. Critical dates are as follows: revised FY09 program assessment plans must be uploaded to Blackboard by August 28; initial FY10 program assessment plans are to be uploaded to Blackboard by October 12; all data required for faculty credentialing must be entered into Digital Measures by January 14; and final FY10 program assessment plans are to be entered into Blackboard by June 1.

Digital Measures is being used to document instructor credentials. Departments should make certain that the academic degrees of all instructional staff are entered into Digital Measures so that these can be compared to the subject matter of the courses taught by these instructional staff (course assignments will be supplied to Digital Measures by the Office of the Registrar). In the rare circumstance that a faculty member has taught a course in an area that appears to be outside of her/his academic field, additional documentation will be required. It was also strongly emphasized that all course syllabi must be posted on Blackboard and must contain information on all learning outcomes addressed in the course. There must be a terminal degree diploma on file for each member of the instructional staff with third party verification of any diploma issued by a foreign institution.

It was noted that a program assessment plan must be submitted for each degree program (undergraduate and graduate) and Dr. Busby listed 34 such programs offered by the School of Science and Engineering. It was agreed that each program must establish outcomes expected of its majors upon graduation and, therefore, assessment would be applied to program majors only.    To date, the departments in SSE have focused on bachelor degree programs. Last year, it was agreed that the SSE would have a common set of outcomes and metrics for its doctoral programs but this is apparently not acceptable. Dean Altiero distributed the common set of outcomes and metrics that had been drafted by Associate Dean Carol Burdsal and asked that each doctoral program customize them for their own programs as appropriate. It was also agreed that, for each discipline, only one masters program assessment form would be submitted but that the form could identify certain outcomes that apply only to thesis option, non-thesis option, 4+1 option, etc.

Dr. Busby stressed that program outcomes must be measureable and results must be used to continuously improve the attainment of the intended outcomes.    There was a lengthy discussion about outcome measures. Direct measures and indirect measures were defined. While direct measures (grades on specific problems or assignments) are generally preferable, indirect measures (such as targeted questions on student evaluation forms or surveys of employers and/or alumni) can be used as well. Some interest expressed in the notion of adding targeted questions to student evaluation forms as is already done for the ABET accredited engineering programs.

Promotion and Tenure Process

The group went over the 2009-10 timetable for academic personnel reviews including the deadlines for submission of reappointment, promotion, and tenure dossiers and sabbatical requests. It was noted that September 15 is the deadline for departments to submit the CV, five selected publications, and names of four external reviewers for each candidate being considered for promotion.

It was agreed that each candidate for promotion should also be required to submit a written statement to be included (along with the CV and five publications) in the packet that is sent to the external reviewers. Additionally, there was general agreement that each promotion dossier should include an explanation of why each of the external reviewers was selected. These changes to the SSE “Promotion and Tenure Committee Guidelines for Third-Year Review, Promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure, and Promotion to Full Professor” document do not require faculty approval so the document will be amended accordingly.

Provost Michael Bernstein recently sent a document to all faculty members entitled “Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure Reviews, Uptown Campus, Tenure Track Faculty,” and urged all of the schools to make certain that their guidelines are consistent with this document. It appears that the SSE guidelines are consistent with the guidelines recommended by the provost but Dean Altiero agreed to look closely at the two documents to assure that they are properly reconciled. He noted that there is also a document on the Office of Academic Affairs website titled “Guidelines for Professor of Practice/Lecture Appointments and Reviews.”

Professional Development Funds

The group discussed support for faculty professional development. Recall that the SSE departments have agreed to provide each of their professors of practice up to $1,000 annually in professional development support (minutes of August 22, 2008). There was general agreement that a similar policy should be applicable to all faculty members. It appears that each of the SSE departments does provide professional development funds to its faculty members but the terms and the level of support vary from department to department. It was agreed that all departments are expected to provide professional development support but the details will continue to be left to the departments.

A question was raised about office computer support for faculty and staff. The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has established a budget line targeted to replacement of all faculty and staff office computers on a rolling three-year timetable. It was agreed that this is something that all departments should consider implementing.

Hurricane Plans

Sandy Parker reported that most of the department and center hurricane plans have now been brought up to date but there are a few that need a bit more attention. It is particularly important that all emergency contact lists be made current, especially faculty, staff, and graduate students. The SSE hurricane plans will not be posted to the web at this time. Instead each unit should make certain that its faculty, staff and students are made aware of the details of its plan in advance of a storm.

The group was assured that the Boggs, Israel and Stern buildings will not lose power in the event of a storm. The deanʼs office should be informed if there are any laboratories outside of those three buildings for which a power outage would pose a significant problem.

Summer School

Annette Oertling informed the group that she is serving on an ad hoc committee that has been asked to make recommendations to the provost on more effective use of the campus during the summer months. There was a lengthy discussion on this topic that included a number of recommendations, including: summer course offerings; minors; programs for science and mathematics high school teachers; REU and RET opportunities; and 3-2 degree program offerings.

Space Survey

Gary McPherson reminded the group that the space inventory and the space survey must be submitted to the Office of the Vice President for Finance no later than August 31. He will be following up with each of the unit heads during the week of August 24 to review assigned space and to chronicle space utilization.

School of Science and Engineering, 201 Lindy Boggs Center, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5764