SSE Faculty Meeting Minutes

212 Lavin Bernick Center
December 9, 2010

4:00 PM

Attendance: Agnew, Ahsan, Altiero, Alvarez, Aung, Bart, Blum, Boudaba, Caruso, Christenson, Colombo, Cortez, Cronin, Cunningham, Dancisak, Daniel, Darwin, Dawers, Di, Didier, Dohanich, Dotson, Dupre, Flowers, Gaver, Godbey, Golob, Ha, Hall, Heins, Hopkins, Inglis, Johannesson, Jones, Kalka, Kaplan, Khismatullin, Kim, Lockman, Mao, McPherson, Mislove, Mitchell, Molix, Moore, Mullin, Muneoka, Nastasi, O'Brien, O'Connor, Oertling, Overstreet, Papadopoulos, Parrish, Parsley, Perdew, Pesika, Popescu, Reed, Richards-Zawacki, Ruscher, Schmehl, Schuler, Shakov, Sigler, Straub, Tasker, Thien, Vasudevan, Walker, Wang, Wee, Wilson, Wyland

Guests: Bernstein, Levy

Approval of Minutes

The minutes of the meeting of 2 September 2010 were approved.

Michael Bernstein and Laura Levy

Provost Michael Bernstein focused his remarks on the 5 "obsessions" currently consuming the Office of Academic Affairs.

The first of these is the SACS accreditation visit scheduled for March 2011. He briefly summarized the status of the SACS review and touched on the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that establishes a Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching (CELT) directed by SSE Professor Michael Cunningham.

The second topic addressed by the provost was the status of leadership searches including Dean of the AB Freeman School of Business, the Sachs Endowed Chair in Civic Engagement, and a number of endowed professor positions in social entrepreneurship.

Next he talked about round three of the "Innovation and Interdisciplinarity in Graduate Education" request for proposals. During the first two rounds, five new doctoral programs were established: Aging Studies; French Studies; Linguistics; City, Culture and Community; and Economic Analysis and Policy. The deadline for round three proposals is 17 December. He also reported that his office is addressing a number of graduate education administrative issues that have arisen due to de-centralization of graduate studies under the renewal plan.

The fourth topic addressed by the provost was faculty accomplishments and advancement. Here he talked about faculty salary competitiveness, mentoring of faculty, research infrastructure and core instrumentation, IT infrastructure, and academic personnel review. He said that the "Project 2020" report, that had been tabled due to the economic downturn, will be now be revisited. That report included a number of recommendations for building research infrastructure and facilitating interdisciplinary research. The provost also drew attention to a recently-completed academic personnel review that includes statistics on academic personnel actions, challenges in academic review processes, and prospective issues for consideration. This document has been reviewed with the academic personnel review committees of the various schools and will be updated annually.

Finally the provost discussed research infrastructure and space concerns. He outlined the steps that he and Vice President for Research Laura Levy are taking to facilitate research administration and compliance. He also outlined the important role of the Health Sciences Leadership Council (deans Altiero, Buekens, Sachs, director Lackner, and Bernstein and Levy) in addressing interdisciplinary research issues and research infrastructure. He stressed the importance of the Taylor Lab replacement project and the J Bennett Johnston Building renovation. And he stressed the fact that the J Bennett Johnston space does not belong to any one school and that the space will be allocated to best stimulate interdisciplinary research in the health sciences involving investigators from across the university.

Provost Bernstein concluded his remarks by lauding the SSE for its strategic vision and the remarkable success that it has achieved over the past four years. During the question and answer period, the provost was asked about the timeline for ending the "Headcount Stabilization" restrictions, the timeline for completion of the Howard Tilton Memorial Library expansion, and any plans to make the "Project 2020" report publicly available.

Vice President for Research Laura Levy then addressed the group. She concurred with the provost that the SSE has been a remarkable success story and she lauded the faculty for their success in building the school's sponsored research portfolio. She reminded the faculty that she has an office in the SSE dean's office suite and that she is available to meet with faculty on a regular basis. She also outlined a number of services and opportunities provided by her office including oversight of the Office of Research Administration, administration of the Oliver Fund Scholars Award (the most recent recipient being SSE faculty member Tor Tornqvist), a modest level of bridge funding for faculty members experiencing lapses in external support, training in the responsible conduct of research as required by NIH and other funding agencies, research infrastructure "town hall meetings" held monthly on alternating campuses, and oversight of five university-wide research centers. She mentioned the recent expansion of the uptown vivarium as an important project facilitated by her office and the office of the provost.

Dr. Levy went into great detail on the J Bennett Johnston renovation project, including the configuration of the new space and the process that will be used to assign space in that facility once the renovation is completed. She said that a request for proposals will be released soon for occupation of interdisciplinary lab space in that facility and that priority would be given to projects that involved investigators from multiple schools. There followed a number of questions regarding the J Bennett Johnston space including the timeline for completion/occupation and the criteria for assignment of space.

Amendments to Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

The faculty considered the following proposed addition to section B of the SSE Promotion and Tenure Guidelines: "Department faculty who have served as a dissertation advisor or postdoctoral mentor to the candidate should not chair, nor perform the functions of chair, of the departmental P&T Committee convened to review the candidate." Dean Altiero reported that this proposed amendment had been discussed at the 3 September 2010 meeting of the SSE Executive Committee and that the department chairs present at that meeting had voted 3 in favor, 5 opposed and 1 abstention. Several department chairs shared with the group their views on this proposed change. After some discussion, the proposed change was rejected with 15 voting in favor and 33 opposed.

December Degree Certifications

It was pointed out that all undergraduate degree certifications are now administered by Newcomb-Tulane College and all graduate degree certifications are administered by the graduate studies division of the SSE dean's office. Thus the certification of degrees at a meeting of the SSE faculty is simply a "formality." The dean said that he would will follow up with each department and program head to make certain that all December degree candidates have been certified by the faculty.

Committee Reports

Executive Committee - Dean Altiero, Chair of the committee, pointed out that all meeting minutes are posted to the web and that he is always open to questions and input on the content of those meetings. The next meeting, a retreat scheduled for 5 January 2011, will focus entirely on the School strategic plan. A major issue to be addressed will be how the new decentralized budget model will affect the units in the School. The goal is to have an updated strategic plan in place by July 2011.

Promotion and Tenure Committee - Professor Yi Ping Chen, Chair of the committee, was unable to attend so Professor Ricardo Cortez reported on his behalf. He said that all promotion and tenure dossiers have now been submitted to the dean's office and the committee will begin its work in January. Dean Altiero noted that the Office of Academic Affairs now plans to notify each candidate of the outcome of her/his review as soon as the review is complete. In other words, they will not wait to make notifications in batches of reviews as has been the past practice. Candidates should not read anything into early notification of one candidate and later notification of another. The Office of the Provost will simply process the files one at a time as they are received.

Graduate Studies Committee - Professor Don Gaver, Chair of the committee, gave an update on its activities. He reported that seven new graduate courses have been approved thus far this year. The committee has recommended a semester-long English language course for international students from non English-speaking countries. They also made recommendations regarding the course numbering system, an issue that was later handled by the SSE Executive Committee. The SSE is providing resources for more aggressive recruiting of high quality students to our doctoral programs.

Undergraduate Studies Committee - Professor John Prindle, Chair of this committee, was unable to attend so Associate Dean Beth Wee reported on his behalf. She referred the group to the minutes of committee meetings, all of which are now posted to the web.

Grievance Committee - Professor Tor Tornqvist, Chair of the committee, was unable to attend so Dean Altiero reported on his behalf. He reported that there have been no grievances filed this year. He also pointed out that no grievances were filed during the 2009-10 academic year.

Nominating Committee - Professor Tom Sherry, Chair of the committee, was unable to attend so Dean Altiero reported on his behalf. Dean Altiero drew attention to the list of faculty committee assignments now posted at He pointed out that all faculty, including professors of practice and research professors, are eligible to serve on the University Senate and raised the question of their limited voting privileges. Currently SSE professors of practice may vote on curricular matters only and SSE research professors may not vote. The subject of expanded voting privileges for these faculty colleagues will be addressed at a future meeting of the SSE faculty.

Alumni Relations Committee - Professor Tim Schuler, Chair of the committee, gave an update on its activities and requested nominations for 2011 alumni awards. The nomination process has been simplified this year and nomination forms can be found at

Announcements and Updates

It has been determined that the average raise for faculty and staff this coming year will be 2.5%. Dean Altiero emphasized that this will be the average and that individual raises will vary and will be based on merit. He has briefed the SSE Executive Committee and other staff supervisors regarding the merit raise process.

Next semester, SSE faculty meetings will be held on 23 February 2011 and 5 May 2011, 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM, in the Lavin-Bernick Center. President Scott Cowen will be on the agenda of the 23 February meeting.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:25 PM.

Minutes by Wayne Reed.

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