SSE Executive Committee Meeting

August 6, 2010

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present: Altiero, Chen, Engleman, Moore (for Gaver), Heins, Kalka, Kaplan (for McGuire), McPherson, Nelson, Oertling, Pratt, Ruscher, Schmehl (also for Koplitz), Tasker

Absent: Parker, Wee

Guest: St.-Pierre

SSE Strategic Plan

Dean Nick Altiero reported that we are now four years into the School of Science and Engineering strategic plan, Vision 2018, and it is time to do an assessment of what has been achieved to date, to make needed mid-course adjustments, and to spell out the details of the next phase of strategic plan implementation. He emphasized that this is an ideal time to develop phase II of the strategic plan in more detail for a number of important reasons, including: (1) the University is planning to return to a decentralized budget model in FY12; (2) the School will be making significant progress toward addressing space constraints by recovering Stanley Thomas Hall, replacing Francis Taylor Lab, and collaborating in the newly-renovated interdisciplinary space in the JBJ Building; and (3) there are a number of open and proposed endowed faculty positions that can be used fill key leadership positions. He asked each of the Department Chairs to begin engaging their faculty in the planning process and to begin this discussion with Vision 2018 as a foundation. Successful implementation of the strategic plan is dependent upon involvement and support of the faculty. The strategic plan, phase II, will be an ongoing topic at Executive Committee meetings throughout the coming year.

Faculty Load Policy

In 2007, a load policy for tenured faculty was developed (see the Executive Committee minutes of 19 January 2007, 13 July 2007, and 9 November 2007). Implementation of this policy began in AY2008-09 so we are now entering the third year of policy implementation. Nick asked each Department Chair to provide the names of tenured faculty members who are not judged to be research active along with the AY2010-11 teaching/administrative assignment for each and to be prepared to discuss these cases at his/her first individual meeting with Nick this fall. It was agreed that outreach duties could be a defined part of a faculty member's load where appropriate.

At the request of the Provost, the group discussed a minimum class enrollment policy, i.e. "if a class does not meet a minimum threshold enrollment level, it should be cancelled or taught as an uncompensated overload." After some discussion it was agreed that the minimum enrollment for a class to be offered in the School of Science and Engineering should be 10 for an undergraduate class and 5 for a graduate or cross-listed graduate/undergraduate class.

Inter-School Collaboration

Nick requested that each member of the Executive Committee compile a list of current SSE collaborations with units outside of the SSE and provide it to him by the end of the month. This list will be submitted to the Office of the Provost where an inventory of inter-school collaborations is being developed.

Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

At the May 6 meeting of the SSE faculty, there was a first reading of proposed changes to the SSE Promotion and Tenure Guidelines that had been unanimously approved by the SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee. The faculty voted to send the proposal back to the SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee for major changes prior to a final vote at the September 2 meeting of the SSE faculty. The faculty also requested that the proposed changes be vetted with the SSE Executive Committee prior to the final faculty vote. The SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee then met on May 13 and revised the proposed changes in response to the concerns that had been raised at the faculty meeting. These changes must now be vetted with the Executive Committee prior to the September 2 meeting. Nick agreed to email a list of the proposed changes to members of the Executive Committee for comment and approval. If approved, they will be presented for a final vote at the September 2 SSE faculty meeting. If not approved, a special meeting of the Executive meeting will need to be scheduled prior to September 2 and Kim O'Connor, who served as Chair of the SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee this past year, will be asked to attend.

A question was raised regarding the advisability of allowing associate professors to serve on the SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee. The Constitution of the Faculty in SSE requires that a minimum of 5 of the 9 members of the committee be full professors thus allowing for up to 4 associate professors. A question was raised regarding how other schools at Tulane handle this issue. There was a discussion with points being raised on both sides. It was agreed that this topic will be discussed further at a future Executive Committee meeting.

Expanded Instructional Services in Library

Paul St.-Pierre, Research and Instruction Librarian (Sciences) at the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library (HTML), joined the group to discuss instructional services offered by the library. He distributed a sheet entitled "Sample Library Instruction Offerings for Science and Engineering" that included HTML services at the lower undergraduate level, the upper undergraduate level, and the graduate level as well as for new faculty and postdoctoral fellows, lab groups, and academic departments. He offered to attend individual departmental meetings this fall joined by Tony Bremholm, the Chief Bibliographer for Science and Engineering at the HTML to brief faculty members on library services and acquisition policies.

Graduate Writing Course

Jeff Tasker, Director of the Neuroscience Program, presented a proposal to introduce an English Composition course (or courses) for doctoral students in the School of Science and Engineering. He was joined by Russ Schmehl, Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Paul St.-Pierre, who have also been involved in developing this proposal. There was a discussion that included the content of such a course, the logistics of offering such a course, and the differing objectives for native English speaking students and students for whom English is a second language. However there was unanimous support for going forward with this plan. Jeff agreed to work with Russ and the SSE Office of the Dean to put such a program in place by academic year 2011-12.


Gary McPherson, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Facilities, gave an overview of the SSE budget. He reported that the School met budget expectations in FY10 but that the cost of renovations and other facility upgrades and improvements continues to pose a budget challenge. He urged all units to work closely with his office on any facilities issues during FY11 so that the School can closely monitor the cost of these projects and set priorities.

Kat Engleman, Senior Director of Development, instructed the group on the importance of differentiating between "gifts" and a "fees for service." She also reported on efforts to provide individual departmental fundraising reports, improve gift stewardship practices, and create a new "donor's corner" on the SSE web site.

Annette Oertling, Assistant Dean for K-12 Outreach, reported on efforts to establish national K-12 education standards that include engineering. She said that she would provide the group with links to websites that describe the proposed standards.

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