SSE Executive Committee Meeting

December 18, 2009.
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present: Altiero, Chen, Gaver, Heins, John, Kalka, Koplitz, Mao (for McGuire), McPherson, Nelson, Parker, Oertling, Ruscher, Schmehl, Tasker, Wee

Absent: Engleman

SSE Update and Overview - Altiero

Dean Nick Altiero lead a discussion of the 10 December 2009 School of Science and Engineering faculty meeting that focused on several of the items that President Scott Cowen addressed in his presentation at that meeting.   He also reiterated the importance of the goals and action steps that were outlined at the last (30 October 2009) SSE Executive Committee meeting and said that he is compiling a set of metrics to measure our success in each of the targeted areas.   The following three SSE operations are currently under review: the Tulane University Museum of Natural History (TUMNH), the Coordinated Instrumentation Facility (CIF), and the machine shop.  The TUMNH review has actually been completed and changes are being implemented based on the results of that review.  The next meeting of the SSE Board of Advisors (BOA) is scheduled for 9 April 2009 and SSE Research Day is scheduled for the preceding day.  The group discussed the logistics of the BOA meeting and the associated events.

Personnel and Financial Issues - Parker

Assistant Dean Sandy Parker reminded the group that the SACS FY10 Initial Assessment Plans are now past due!  She also said that the 1 June 2010 deadline for FY10 Final Assessment Plans and FY11 Initial Assessment Plans is “non-negotiable.”  Faculty credentials must be completed in Digital Measures by 11 January 2010 and faculty members need to be reminded that their course syllabi, including course outcomes, must all be posted on-line using Blackboard (including all graduate courses).  If a course is offered for both undergraduate and graduate credit, there must be a clear differentiation of the requirements.  One problem that needs to be addressed is the poor participation rate by students in the electronic submission of course evaluations.  There was some discussion about measures that might be taken to improve the participation rate.

The faculty and staff annual evaluation processes are about to begin.  Faculty members are to input all 2009 calendar year annual report information into Digital Measures by 14 January 2009.  The Digital Measures data will then feed into the standard SSE annual report form and into a standard CV format, both of which will be printed on 15 January for use in the review process.  If a faculty member has not entered all of the information required to produce a complete CV, he/she should submit a hard copy of his/her updated CV to the dean’s office by the 15 January deadline.  Department Chairs need to meet with each of their faculty members individually between 18 January and 5 February and then be prepared to discuss these evaluations with Dean Altiero before the end of February.   Staff members must complete and submit their annual evaluation forms to their supervisors no later than 15 January and supervisors should be prepared to meet with their staff members individually to complete their evaluations by 27 January.  Completed performance evaluations and all associated paperwork are due in the dean’s office no later than 29 January.  As in the past if a supervisor intends to check either “does not meet job expectations” or “consistently exceeds job expectations” on a particular staff evaluation form, he/she must discuss this with Dean Altiero prior to meeting with the staff member.

Facilities and Research Issues - McPherson

Associate Dean Gary McPherson reviewed the major SSE space renovations that have been completed over the past two to three years.  It now appears that most of the planned major renovations have either been completed or are very near completion.  The next big project will be the Frances Taylor Laboratory building.  A question was asked about the work currently being done on the first floor of the Lindy Boggs Center and Dean Altiero responded that a Geographic Information System (GIS) laboratory/classroom is being created in one of the rooms adjacent to the lobby.  The other room adjacent to the lobby (the former student lounge) will be converted into a computer laboratory.  The tables and chairs from the student lounge have been moved into the lobby itself.

There was a lengthy discussion about cost shares on sponsored grants and contracts.  The SSE policy is that formal cost shares will not be approved unless mandated by the funding agency.  It was also emphasized that “voluntary” cost shares should not be included in budgets if not mandated by the agency (even if this only involves faculty time or tuition waivers) as this leads to cumbersome and unnecessary accounting requirements. 

Graduate Studies Issues - Schmehl

Associate Dean Russ Schmehl reported on the activities of the Research Enhancement Committee of the SSE Board of Advisors.  This year the committee will focus on fundraising in support of doctoral education and research, including a doctoral fellowship fund.  Other suggestions are most welcomed and it was suggested that funding for core facilities should also be a priority.

Undergraduate Studies Issues - Wee

Associate Dean Beth Wee has been working with departmental representatives on the promotion of undergraduate study abroad programs.  Most of the existing programs are offered during the junior year but a significant number are now available in the sophomore year.  There was a discussion on the pros and cons of spending a semester abroad during the sophomore year and it was agreed that this varied by major, most notably a sophomore experience is more compatible with ABET accredited engineering programs than would be a junior year program.  The School will continue to promote more study abroad programs designed specifically for science and engineering students and higher participation of SSE students in these programs.

The SSE web site continues to evolve and the dean’s office is soliciting more stories and photographs to feature on this site.  It would be particularly helpful if departments would supply information on the accomplishments of students and faculty members as they occur.  This will help to keep the content of the web site dynamic and it will also provide an inventory of accomplishments to be reported at the end of each academic year.

It is also extremely important that the SSE section of the University Catalogue be continuously maintained.  Dean Wee asked that all course descriptions be checked for accuracy and currency and that all information be checked for consistency.  The School has now posted all courses available for service learning credit on the web and this list must also be continuously maintained.

Outreach Issues - Oertling

Assistant Dean Annette Oertling reported on the developing relationships between the School of Science and Engineering and the K-12 education community, including a significant number of area schools and organizations such as the Cowen Institute and New Schools for New Orleans.  She said that this affords multiple opportunities for faculty members to develop “broader impact” components for research projects and that she would be happy to facilitate partnerships to accomplish this.  She also again stressed that all K-12 outreach activities need to be brought to her attention for inclusion on the SSE web site.

There was a general discussion about the proposed University policy on “volunteers” in the research laboratories.  In particular, a concern was raised about the proposed general ban on volunteers under the age of 18.  Dean Altiero said that he would discuss this with University officials to see if the policy might be modified.


The main topic raised during the roundtable discussion had to do with better exposure of SSE research strengths to the SSE Board of Advisors.  It was suggested that faculty research presentations might be a regular agenda item at Board meetings.  It was also suggested that such presentations, especially by junior faculty, might be somehow integrated into Research Day or be part of the programming for Homecoming weekend.  The idea of streaming these presentations over the web or posting them to You Tube was also suggested.

Also during roundtable, a question was raised about support for web sites and publications.  The SSE has contracted with Mudbug Media, Inc. to design and maintain its web site and they will now work with each of the departments and centers.  There is some concern about providing content for these sites and about development of more sophisticated newsletters and other School and departmental publications.  Dean Altiero was urged to include a publications person in the SSE staff hiring plan. 

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