SSE Executive Committee Meeting

December 19, 2008
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present: Altiero, Burdsal, Chen, Engleman, Gaver, John, Koplitz, Nelson, Heins, Kalka,
Reed (for McGuire), Oertling, Parker, Ruscher, Tasker 

Absent: McLachlan, McPherson


Deans’ Council Report

Dean Nick Altiero reported on topics that have been discussed at recent Tulane Deans’ Council meetings. In particular, he brought the group up to date on the following.

  • The use of Blackboard and myTulane
  • School, Department, and Center website expectations.
  • The on-line course evaluation pilot
  • Electronic instruction during emergencies.
  • FY10 budget issues.
  • Faculty and staff compensation issues.
  • Faculty and Staff Evaluation Process

Dean Altiero summarized the annual evaluation processes for SSE faculty and staff.

The SSE faculty evaluation process will begin with the submission of faculty annual activity reports in mid January and should be completed by mid-March. The only change from last year is that faculty members will now enter their calendar year accomplishments into the Digital Measures database and this will be used to generate the standard faculty annual activity reports. It was noted that the Digital Measures data will also be used in the future to generate other reports and documents such as the promotion and tenure dossiers.

All staff evaluations will be due to Tulane’s Workforce Management office on January 30.


Review of Past Minutes

Dean Altiero went over the minutes of prior fall 2008 Executive Committee meetings and the group briefly discussed the following ongoing topics.

  • SACS preparation.
  • On-line course evaluations using Blackboard software; outcomes-related questions; student response rate.
  • Initiatives associated with the Tulane Health Sciences Leadership Council; Project 2020; joint appointments; joint space.
  • Academic initiatives associated with the SSE strategic plan; proposed Board of Advisors task forces.
  • Infrastructure initiatives associated with the SSE strategic plan.
  • Technology transfer and business development; proposed Board of Advisors task forces.
  • Student body diversity and graduate student recruiting.
  • Hurricane preparedness; keeping hurricane plans up to date.
  • Electronic delivery of instruction during hurricanes and other emergencies; resources available; faculty training.

Promotion and Tenure Process

Vijay John, Chair of the SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee, presented some recommendations for improvement of the promotion and tenure process. It was agreed that the following recommendations need to be addressed beginning next year.

  • Departments need to meet the September 15 deadline for submission of the names of external reviewers; there should also be more uniformity in how departments identify the external reviewers.
  • It would be useful if each department could provide an explanation of the culture of authorship in its field, i.e. determination of order of authorship, journals vs. proceedings, etc.
  • Candidates should be strongly advised to adhere to the instructions for assembly of their dossiers; there needs to be clarity regarding the candidate’s research contributions, graduate student mentoring, etc.
  • In the teaching section of the dossier, there should be a table clearly listing the courses taught, number of credits and sections, number of students, course evaluations, etc.
  • There should be some level of uniformity in the format of the evaluation letters submitted by the departmental promotion and tenure committees; these should include clear analyses in the areas of research, teaching, and service.

SACS Preparation

The group reviewed the mission statements and program learning outcomes that have been written for all of the degree programs offered in the School and there was a discussion about consistency across programs. Dean Altiero stressed the need to now link course learning outcomes to program learning outcomes as this will be extremely helpful when we take the next step, i.e. establishing metrics to measure the level of achievement of program learning outcomes. Associate Dean Carol Burdsal agreed to look into the implications for courses that are offered for both undergraduate and graduate credit.

There was a lengthy discussion on the topic of metrics for evaluation of program learning outcomes. Don Gaver gave a presentation entitled “Assessment 101” in which he described how Biomedical Engineering handles assessment of program learning outcomes as a component of the ABET accreditation process. Vijay John then described the way that Chemical Engineering handles ABET assessment and Jim McGuire added his thoughts relative to the new Engineering Physics program. In particular, the group discussed the role of faculty (establishment of course outcomes related to program outcomes, evaluation of specific problems or assignments, targeted faculty meetings at which improvements are discussed), students (outcome specific questions on course evaluation forms, exit interviews), and external constituents (external advisory boards, alumni and employer surveys) in the continuous improvement process.

Some difficult issues were identified, among which were the handling of service courses and core requirements and the logistics of course evaluations in large class sections.

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