SSE Faculty Meeting

December 8, 2008
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM


Attendance: Altiero, Alvarez, Aung, Blum, Boudaba, Burdsal, Caruso, Chen, Colombo, Corey, Cortez, Cunningham, Dancisak, Daniel, Darwin, De Kee, Didier, Diebold, Dotson, Fauci, Gasparini, Gaver, Godbey, Grisbaum, Hall, Han, Hebert, Hopkins, Horwitz, Kalka, Kaplan, Khismatullin, Koplitz, McGuire, McPherson, Mislove, Molix, Moosavi, Mullin, Muneoka, Murfee, Nastasi, Nelson, Oertling, Parrish, Parsley, Perdew, Pesika, Pratt, Reed, Rice, Rogers, Rosenheim, Shakov, Sherry, Shevkoplyas, Törnqvist, Varela, Walker, Wee, Wietfeldt, Wyland, Zhang

Guest: Cowen


The minutes of the meeting of 1 October 2008 were approved unanimously.

President Scott Cowen

President Cowen addressed the situation at Tulane in light of current economic conditions. Among his concerns are: the decrease in the value of the endowment due to the decline in the market; the extremely bad fundraising climate, especially with respect to the prospects for major gifts; and affordability for students faced with declining family savings and fewer loan options. He does not see the situation improving until at least FY 2012.

On the bright side, applications are at an all time high. Undergraduate applications have already surpassed last years record of 34,000 and the graduate and professional schools are also experiencing increased volume. Research funding has increased significantly in the past three years and has returned to the pre-Katrina level, with the expectation that it will continue to rise. Additionally the University is very lean, having made significant adjustments during the renewal process following the storm. We are now enjoying significant stability in our faculty and staff with very little attrition over the past two years.

Going forward, the President emphasized that he does not envision any layoffs at Tulane. He does however, intend to take the following pre-emptive actions to assure the economic stability of the institution: limiting faculty and staff hiring to only endowed positions and those positions for which a very strong case can be made; limiting raises to only those employees whose salaries are below a given threshold level; slowing the pace of implementation of the plan to introduce new interdisciplinary doctoral programs; delaying implementation of the next stage of the faculty/staff salary enhancement plan; and delaying implementation of Project 2020, the plan to invest in interdisciplinary research in the health sciences.

There was a lengthy question and answer period.

The President was asked if he is concerned about students not returning for the spring semester because of the affordability issue. He said that all indications are that this should not be a significant problem. There has, however, been an increase in the need for financial aid.

Another question addressed the status of capital projects. President Cowen said that we will go forward with all building and renovation projects for which funding is in place. However projects that are not yet fully funded will be placed on hold.

A question was raised about lighting on campus. The President said that major steps were being taken to improve campus safety including a new lighting program, crime cameras at multiple locations, and two new police substations. Some time ago, Tulane increased the number of police officers on campus and expanded their territory to a district that extends one mile beyond the campus boundaries. There is also expanded shuttle bus service.

Faculty expressed concern about the delay in implementation of Project 2020. President Cowen said that the “management infrastructure” portion of the project will be implemented but the rest, such as the seed funding program and the interdisciplinary research laboratories, will have to wait until economic conditions improve.

The plan to return to a decentralized budget model is still on track for FY 2011.

Committee Reports

Executive Committee. Dean Nick Altiero reported that all Executive Committee minutes are posted on the web. The committee met on August 22, October 24, and November 21, and the last meeting of the fall semester is scheduled for December 19. If faculty members have any questions about items appearing in these minutes, they should be addressed to the Dean.

Promotion and Tenure committee. Committee Chair Vijay John was unable to attend so this report was given by committee member John Perdew. Professor Perdew reported that the committee is currently considering 5 third year review cases, 4 promotion with tenure cases and 3 promotion cases. There are also 10 professors of practice review cases but these are not handled by the committee. Dean Altiero commented that some senior hire cases will also be submitted to the committee for review.

Undergraduate Studies Committee and Graduate Studies Committee. These reports were made by Associate Dean Carol Burdsal. Beth Wee has been elected Chair of the Undergraduate Studies Committee and Jeff Tasker has been elected Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee. No new programs have been approved this fall but the Graduate Studies Committee is considering a proposal for a joint master’s degree with the Freeman School of Business. The Graduate Studies Committee has also approved a common set of program outcomes for doctoral degrees awarded in the School as required for SACS accreditation.

Grievance Committee. In the 2.5 years that the School of Science and Engineering has existed, there have been no grievances filed and therefore this committee has never met. Dean Altiero pointed out that, at the SSE faculty meeting of 7 May 2008, the faculty voted to charge this committee with consideration of the FTFR recommendations pertaining to school grievance procedures. The committee will need to elect a Chair and should meet early in the spring semester to consider the FTFR recommendations.

Nominating Committee. Committee Chair Tom Sherry reported that the committee has met twice this year and has made 18 committee appointments so far. All committee assignments can be found on the web. Anyone seeking a committee assignment should contact him.

Alumni Relations committee: The Dean has created such a committee and one faculty member from each academic department has been assigned to it. The committee also has members from the School’s Board of Advisors. This committee has focused on alumni awards, alumni events, increased membership in the alumni council, and communications such as newsletters and web sites.

Dean Altiero asked if any representatives to the University Senate, University Senate committees, the Graduate Council, or any committees of Newcomb-Tulane College had anything to bring to the faculty. There were none.


The meeting adjourned at 5:15 PM. Minutes by Wayne Reed.

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