SSE Executive Committee Meeting

August 25, 2011
8:00 AM – 12:00 PM


Present: Altiero, Gaver, Chen, Pratt, Koplitz, Nelson/Tornqvist, Heins, Kalka, Mao, Ruscher, Tasker, McPherson, Schmehl, Wee, Oertling, Parker

Absent: Engleman

Fall 2011 Events

The group discussed a number of SSE events scheduled for this fall including the Graduate Student Orientation, the Open House for Incoming Freshmen, the Science and Engineering Honor Society Reception, the Flower Hall Groundbreaking Ceremony, the Engineering Physics ABET visit, the Major Donor/Board of Advisors Reception, the Board of Advisors meeting, and the Homecoming Weekend activities including the SSE Open House, Tailgate and Game Suite. Dean Altiero also distributed the schedule for fall SSE faculty, staff, and Executive Committee meetings.

University Issues

The group was briefed on the following topics: SACS guidelines for substantive changes in degree programs, upcoming changes to the University health insurance plan, faculty mentoring resources offered by the Office of the Provost, the new international travel policy, and the upcoming environmental health and safety audits.


Dean Altiero gave an update on the size of the SSE faculty for the upcoming academic year and the status of faculty recruiting. There are now 113 tenured/tenure-track faculty, 32 professors of the practice and 17 research professors. Two tenured/tenure-track faculty searches are still in progress.

The group discussed a number of issues including promotion and tenure actions this coming year, the University's "phased retirement plan", appointments and elections to various faculty committees, and the need to update a number of documents on the website (including professor of the practice appointments, research professor appointments, the promotion and tenure dossier template, and the faculty annual activity report template).

Associate/Assistant Dean Reports

Beth Wee, the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, introduced Eleanor Berault who has joined the Dean's Office as the Program Coordinator for Undergraduate Programs and Outreach Activities. She then lead a discussion that included the following topics: the process for submitting course and curricular changes to the Undergraduate Studies Committee, the process for updating catalogue entries, honors thesis requirements, study abroad opportunities (there will be an information session on September 14), and student organization websites. She said that the Undergraduate Studies Committee planned to hold its first meeting of the academic year in late September.

Russ Schmehl, the Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, introduced Stephanie Borrego who has joined the Dean's Office as the Senior Program Coordinator for Graduate Programs. He announced that Carol Burdsal, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, will be returning from her two-year assignment at the National Science Foundation in mid-September. He then lead a discussion that included the following topics: implementation of a new graduate degree audit process using the Banner database system, new English language courses being offered to SSE graduate students (speaking for international students and technical writing for all students), and this year's plans for graduate recruiting. Several concerns were voiced about the interdisciplinary doctoral program and Russ agreed to bring these to Carol's attention so that they can be addressed soon.

There was also a general discussion on the roles of the Undergraduate Studies Committee and the Graduate Studies Committee. It was suggested that these two committees be replaced by a Curriculum Committee (to handle both undergraduate and graduate curricular matters) and a Graduate Recruiting Committee. This change would require an amendment to the SSE Constitution. A draft amendment will be prepared for consideration by the SSE faculty.

Sandy Parker, the Assistant Dean for Finance and Personnel, briefed the group on the new faculty hiring process (including institutional equity requirements). She also reminded the group of the requirements for effort reporting, cost share accounting, and endowed accounts reporting.

Gary McPherson, the Senior Associate Dean, gave a report on the final closing of the FY11 budget. He then brought the group up to date on facilities improvements including the Flower Hall project and the new elevators in Stern Hall. A committee is being established to advise relative to the future of the machine shop with the goal of replacing the existing shop with a new comprehensive shop within the next three years. Building security was discussed.

Annette Oertling, the Assistant Dean for K12 STEM Outreach, reported that a donor had established an endowed fund for K12 STEM Outreach and that she would be seeking to build on that fund. Her office is in the process of compiling an inventory of all SSE K12 activities and is developing a strategic plan. The Tulane Science Scholar Program continues to grow and consideration is being given to adding a residential program component. The FIRST Lego League theme this year is "Food Safety" and volunteers are sought to host participating middle school students for lab visits.

Strategic Planning

Dean Altiero asked that each of the Department Chairs be prepared to discuss the following issues with him at their first individual meetings of the Fall semester: faculty hiring over the next five years, administrative and technical staffing needs, space needs and concerns, and the departmental budget. With respect to the budget, he specifically asked that each Chair identify needs beyond faculty and staff salaries/benefits, current teaching assistantship allocation, and common operating expenses. This would include additional recurring TA needs as well as recurring costs that are unique to the department. There was a discussion about the shortage of suitable classroom space and the shortage of technology-enabled classroom space.

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