SSE Faculty Meeting Minutes

212 Lavin Bernick Center
December 8, 2011
4:00 PM

Attendance: Ahsan, Alvarez, Blum, Boudaba, Caruso, Chen, Colombo, Corey, Cunningham, Daniel, Darwin, Di, Dohanich, Dotson, Fink, Godbey, Hall, Horwitz, Johannesson, John, Jones, Kalka, Kaplan, Kim, Koplitz, Lockman, Mao, McGuire, McPherson, Mislove, Molix, Mullin, Nastasi, Nelson, O'Brien, O'Connor, Overstreet, Parrish, Parsley, Patterson, Perdew, Popescu, Pratt, Reed, Richards-Zawacki, Ruscher, Ruzsinszky, Schuler, Shakov, Sherry, Thien, Vasudevan, Wietfeldt

Provost Michael Bernstein

Provost Michael Bernstein made his annual presentation to the SSE faculty. He began by updating the group on the main activities/initiatives of his office over the past year. These included the successful SACS accreditation renewal; a number of leadership searches including the successful search for Dean of the Freeman School of Business, the successful searches for the first cohort of social entrepreneurship professors, and the ongoing search for the Sachs Chair in Social Engagement; completion of the initiative to establish several new interdisciplinary doctoral programs including a pending program in political science; a new faculty mentoring program that included grant writing workshops and an interactive website; and commencement of a number of academic-related construction projects including Flower Hall and the J Bennett Johnson building renovation. He then announced the establishment of an office of graduate and postdoctoral affairs that will be overseen by Associate Provost Brian Mitchell. This new office will develop and implement marketing strategies to attract more graduate students, will implement a graduate student tracking system, and will provide an "academic home" for postdoctoral fellows.

The University has begun a strategic planning process that will lead to a major capital campaign beginning in 2013. The role of the Provost's Office in this planning exercise will be two-fold: to establish benchmarks on the academic side regarding student, faculty and program quality with associated metrics; and to conduct an environmental scan that will assess our performance relative to peer and aspirant universities and will look into major opportunities and challenges over the next few years. The ultimate task will be to articulate five or six strategic goals. President Cowen would like to have a preliminary draft of the strategic plan ready for presentation to the Board of Tulane in January 2013. The Provost's role will be to define the academic aspects of that plan. The Provost commented that the School of Science and Engineering has one of the most fully articulated and continually evolving strategic plans on campus and should have no difficulty working this into the overall university plan.

Other items covered by the Provost included the Altman Program in International Studies and Business, the proposed minor in social innovation and social entrepreneurship, and a new facility in Costa Rico that has been gifted to Tulane and will be used for conferences and new programs such as CIAPA, the Center for Applied Political Administration.

A question and answer period followed. Most of the questions were related to the impact of the large freshman classes of the past four years. Faculty members expressed concern that the number of faculty, the number and size of general pool classrooms, and the number of laboratories are far from adequate to meet this large demand. The Provost assured the group that the Office of Admissions is trying to get a better handle on yield rates in an effort to better meet enrollment targets. In the meantime, the University is working with Newcomb-Tulane College and the relevant School deans to address what is hopefully a short-term problem. Some measures that may help will be improvements to the registration process, better scheduling of classrooms, access to classrooms that are outside of the general pool, and improvements to existing space. "Headcount stabilization" has made it more difficult to address the faculty size problem but the University is exercising caution given the state of the economy. Deans are encouraged to bring forward creative proposals.

Approval of Minutes

Dean Nick Altiero was unable to attend so Associate Dean Beth Wee presided. She said that Dean Altiero would be sending an email to the faculty outlining the remarks that he had planned to make at this meeting.

The minutes of the meeting of 15 September 2011 were approved unanimously.

Changes to SSE Constitution - Second Reading and Vote

There were second readings of two proposed amendments to the SSE Constitution.

The first proposed amendment would extend voting privileges for professors of the practice to include election of SSE representatives to the University Senate, a body on which professors of the practice are eligible to serve. After lengthy discussion, the motion was tabled pending further clarification.

The second proposed amendment (to section VII of the SSE Constitution) would create a Curriculum Committee that would act on all course and curriculum matters at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, would eliminate the Undergraduate Studies Committee, and would focus the Graduate Studies Committee on non-curricular matters. A motion was made and seconded to approve these changes to the SSE Constitution and the motion passed unanimously. A second motion was made and seconded to include curriculum committee procedures that were previously approved by the faculty (on 29 November 2006 and 26 November 2007) in the Curriculum Committee section of the SSE Constitution. This motion passed with one nay vote. It was agreed that the requirement that "All curriculum changes approved by the committee shall be reported annually to the faculty" would be satisfied by posting the minutes of all committee meetings to the web.

Proposed Changes to SSE Constitution - First Reading

There was a first reading of a proposed amendments to the SSE Constitution. The proposed amendment would make the following changes to "Section VII.C The Promotion and Tenure Committee": delete sections VII.C.2.e and VII.C.2.f; change the number of section VII.C.2.g to VII.C.2.e; delete section VII.C.4. There will be a vote on this amendments at the next meeting of the SSE faculty.

Old Business

There was no old business.

New Business

Professor Tim Schuler made a request for nominations for alumni awards and noted that the deadline for nominations is 1 February 2012. He clarified that it is not the responsibility of the person making the nomination to provide assurance that the award recipient would be able to attend the award ceremony.

The next meeting of the faculty of the School of Science and Engineering is scheduled for 16 February 2012.


The meeting adjourned at 5:00 PM.

Minutes by Wayne Reed.

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