SSE Faculty Meeting Minutes

August 27, 2009
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Attendance: Ahsan, Altiero, Alvarez, Ashbaugh, Aung, Barbarin, Bishop, Boudaba, Byers, Caruso, Chen, Christenson, Colombo, Corey, Dancisak, Daniel, Darwin, Dawers, Di, Didier, Dohanich, Dotson, Gaver, Gasparini, Godbey, Golob, Ha, Hall, Han, Hebert, Heins, Hopkins, Hyman, Inglis, Jayawickramarajah, Johannesson, Jones, Kalka, Kim, Koplitz, Lacey, Li, Lockman, Mague, Martin, McGuire, Mitchell, Molix, Moore, Mullin, Murfee, Nelson, Oertling, O’Brien, O’Connor, Parsley, Perdew, Pesika, Popescu, Pratt, Prindle, Reed, Rice, Richards- Zawacki, Rosenheim, Ruscher, Schrader, Sherry, Straub, Tasker, Taylor, Thien, Varela, Wee, Wietfeldt, Wilson, Wyland, Yu

Guest: Doucet

Approval of Minutes

The minutes of the meeting of 7 May 2009 were approved without change.


The following new faculty members were introduced by their respective department chairs: Frank Jones (Associate Professor, Cell and Molecular Biology), Ion Popescu (Research Assistant Professor, Cell and Molecular Biology), Ling Yu (Research Assistant Professor, Cell and Molecular Biology), Julie Martin (Visiting Assistant Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences), Jordan Karubian (Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, to join the faculty in January), Cori Richards-Zawacki (Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), Caz Taylor (Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), Mac Hyman (Visiting Professor and Phillips Chair, Mathematics), Rafal Komendarczyk (Assistant Professor, Mathematics), Shao-Chun Li (Research Assistant Professor, Physics and Engineering Physics), and Oscar Barbarin (Professor and Hertz Chair, Psychology).

Dean Nick Altiero reported the very sad news that John Dauns, Professor of Mathematics, passed away in June. A memorial service is scheduled for September 17 at 3:00 PM in Rogers Chapel.

Approval of Voting Faculty

The list of voting faculty members for academic year 2009-2010 has been posted on the School of Science and Engineering (SSE) website. This list was approved unanimously.

Department of Pediatrics Clinical Services

Hosea Doucet, Chief of General Pediatrics, made a presentation on services provided by the “Tulane Hospital for Children” and the associated “Tulane Pediatric Emergency Room.” He urged all faculty members with children to take advantage of the care provided by this outstanding facility.    The facility treats patients up to the age of 21.

Nominating Committee

Tom Sherry, Chair of the Nominating Committee, noted that the school has not yet completed all committee assignments for the 2009-10 academic year. The Nominating Committee will be meeting within the next week or two to fill the following vacancies on University Senate committees: Athletics, Budget Review, Educational Policy, Information Technology, Libraries, Physical Facilities, and Student Affairs (2). They will also need to fill vacancies on two Newcomb-Tulane College committees: Core Curriculum and Honor Board.

The School of Science and Engineering needs to elect a representative to the University Senate Faculty Tenure, Freedom and Responsibility (FTFR) Committee. Al Vitter, who served as the school’s representative for the three-year term 2006-09 is eligible for re-election. It was moved and seconded that Professor Vitter be elected to a second three-year term. He was elected unanimously.

School Update

Dean Altiero reported that there are now 114 tenured/tenure-track faculty members, 24 professors of practice, and 14 research professors in the School of Science and Engineering. There are also 3 ongoing faculty searches. Due to the current economic climate, the university has imposed a faculty and staff hiring freeze so no additional positions are being considered at this time. The faculty roster has been updated on the new SSE web site.

It appears that over 460 incoming freshmen have identified majors offered by the School of Science and Engineering. This is up from 410 last fall. Also the total number of doctoral students enrolled in the school has risen to over 300, up from approximately 270 at the time that the school was established in 2006-07.    The goal set for doctoral enrollment in the school’s strategic plan is 400 so graduate student recruiting will continue to be a major priority. Carol Burdsal, Associate Dean for Academic Programs, has taken a leave of absence to accept a rotator position at the National Science Foundation so Russ Schmehl has been named Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Beth Wee has been named Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs.

Sponsored project awards to SSE faculty fell by approximately 10% to $16.5M in FY09. However, during the first 6 weeks of FY10, sponsored project awards have exceeded $6.7M and the pace of proposal submission by the SSE faculty has increased significantly.

The community engagement component of the SSE strategic plan includes: K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; and technology transfer and business development. The K-12 STEM activities continue to expand and many of these activities are now highlighted on the new website. Faculty members who are engaged in K-12 activities are asked to report them to Annette Oertling, Assistant Dean for K-12 Outreach, so that they can be properly recognized. Recently, there has been increasing activity in technology transfer in the school and the dean promised to expand support for this activity in the coming year. This support will involve workshops for faculty, enhanced services, and increased involvement by external stakeholders.

The number of donors to the SSE and the level of unrestricted giving both increased significantly in FY09, a clear indication that the school is establishing an identity with alumni

and friends. Major gifts declined, however, as is to be expected given the difficult economic climate. The school continues to focus on building a strong alumni base.

Dean Altiero briefed the faculty on final budget numbers for fiscal year 2008-09 and budget projections for fiscal year 2009-10. The university still plans to return to a de-centralized budget model as soon as economic conditions allow and the SSE will begin preparing for that eventuality during the coming year.    Working with the Executive Committee, a budget model will be developed that assures stability of the academic departments while at the same time providing incentives for success and entrepreneurial initiatives.

Space remains a concern but extensive renovations over the past two years have eased the problem somewhat. Ongoing renovation projects include installation of a clean room facility and graduate student office space in Stanley Thomas Hall and expansion of the vivarium in Percival Stern Hall. A complete renovation of the Francis Taylor Laboratory building is in the planning stages.    Other potential opportunities for new research space exist at the J Bennett Johnston Building and at the River Sphere facility.

Last year Dean Altiero worked with the department chairs to develop a comprehensive staff hiring plan. This plan addresses the most critical administrative and technical staff needs in the school. There is currently a faculty and staff hiring freeze but the plan will be revived when that freeze is lifted. When asked if the hiring freeze meant that a critical staff position might go unfilled if a vacancy occurs, the dean responded that an appeal could be made in such a case.

SACS Accreditation

The SACS Compliance Certification Report is due in September 2010 and the site visit will occur in spring 2011. The faculty needs to be attentive to the following.

Faculty Credentialing. Digital Measures will be used to establish that all instructors assigned to courses possess the necessary qualifications to teach those courses. This means that all faculty members must make certain that their degrees earned and any other certifications are entered into Digital Measures. In addition, Dean Altiero urged all faculty members who have not yet done so to enter their CV information for at least the 2008 and 2009 calendar years into Digital Measures and, for those who plan to be considered for promotion and/or tenure action in the near future, to include CV information as far back as the previous promotion and/or tenure action.

Assessment Plans. An assessment plan is required for every degree program offered (BS, MS, and PhD). Assessment plans for 2008-09 were to have been submitted this month and the 2009-10 plans will be due on June 1, 2010. Each assessment plan should include a program mission statement, program learning outcomes, an assessment method or methods for each outcome, results of each assessment, and planned or actual improvements made as a result of the assessments. It is understood that the 2008-09 data may be incomplete but complete data with results (i.e. improvements) are expected in the 2009-10 cycle.

Course Syllabi. It is required that every course syllabus be posted to Blackboard. Each syllabus must include course learning outcomes and, where applicable, relevant program outcomes.

Associate Provost Brain Mitchell responded to questions about each of these requirements and the SACS process generally and said that any program requiring assistance should contact Katie Busby, the new Director of Institutional Assessment.

Old Business

There was no old business.

New Business

Associate Dean Wee announced that there would be a presentation for graduate students on scientific writing at 4:00 PM on September 4. More information, including location, will be forthcoming.

Dean Altiero was asked about the “Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure Reviews” document recently released by Provost Michael Bernstein. He said that the SSE Executive Committee has reviewed this document and it appears that the current SSE promotion and tenure guidelines are consistent with the recommendations of the provost.


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