SSE Executive Committee Meeting

February 26, 2010

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


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

Absent: Parker


Dean Nick Altiero reminded the group about deadlines for submission of nominations for The President's Awards for Excellence in Teaching, including the awards for undergraduate teaching and graduate and professional school teaching. A question was raised regarding eligibility of Professors of Practice for undergraduate teaching awards and Nick agreed to look into this.

Nick brought the group up to date on the A.B. Freeman School of Business's "Bridge to Business" program first discussed at the Executive Committee meeting of 19 October 2007. That program has now been redesigned to guarantee non-business PhDs Academic Qualification (AQ) status by AACSB standards for five years in both Management and Marketing with just two weeks of intensive seminars. Chairs who are aware of graduating doctoral students who might be interested in this program should refer them to Dr. Victor Cook in the Freeman School.

Implementation of DMC Budget Model

Nick brought the group up to date on progress toward the return of the University to a de-centralized budget system. It appears that the University is on target to re-instate de-centralized budgeting in FY12 with FY11 serving as a transitional year. There was a discussion regarding how this will impact the School of Science and Engineering. Nick said that, as the details of the de-centralized budget model become more clear, the School will develop its own internal implementation in a way that ensures stability for each of the academic units while at the same time providing performance incentives. Clearly, the details of the budget model will drive implementation of the School's strategic plan and this will be a major topic of discussion during the coming year.

Faculty and Staff Raises

Nick outlined the process for faculty and staff 2009 calendar year performance evaluations and the process for determination of faculty/staff raises for academic/fiscal year 2010-11. The evaluation process for faculty will be the same as last year but there have been some significant changes in the evaluation process for staff. A number of questions were asked regarding merit raises for staff and raises for faculty/staff who are funded on external grants and contracts. Nick agreed to seek clarification on all of these issues from the Office of the Provost, the Office of Finance, and the Office of Research.

Course Coverage and Curriculum Issues

In the fall of 2006 and the fall of 2007, the first two years following Hurricane Katrina, first time freshmen (FTF) enrolling at Tulane were significantly lower than projected. That has dramatically changed the past two years as the number of FTF in the fall of 2008 and the fall of 2009 have significantly exceeded projections. The implication of this is that the University currently has a relatively large number of freshmen/sophomores and a relatively small number of juniors/seniors. The large number of freshman/sophomores has put intense pressure on core course offerings in the sciences and mathematics whereas the relatively small number of juniors/seniors has resulted in less pressure on courses required for majors. This will change over the next two years as the number of juniors and seniors increases significantly, putting greater pressure on major course offerings at the same time that the need for core course offerings remains high. The group discussed the implications of this in terms of laboratory offerings, service learning course offerings at both the lower and upper levels, independent study offerings, student research opportunities, etc. Nick asked that each Department Chair develop a plan for handling the steady-state enrollment numbers expected by the 2011-12 academic year and to estimate additional resources that may be required to meet the anticipated demand.

The Provost has suggested that the University may consider converting to a 4x4 curriculum model at the undergraduate level and he has asked for input from the schools that would be most impacted by such a change. This generated a spirited discussion. Nick asked that each of the Department Chairs do a survey of programs at peer institutions to see which of them already have 4x4 curricula in place and how they are handling that. This topic will be revisited at a future Executive Committee meeting.

SACS Accreditation

FY10 initial assessment plans are past due and Nick urged all units that have yet to submit their plans to do so immediately. Plans should be submitted to Katie Busby with copies to Sandy Parker. FY10 final assessment plans and FY11 initial assessment plans will be due on June 1, 2010. The SACS on-site visit is scheduled for March 29-31, 2011.

Nick distributed a draft copy of the Tulane University Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The QEP is focused on strengthening the University's initiatives in the area of "engaged learning." These initiatives include research mentoring, experiential learning and professional mentoring, leadership mentoring, teaching and learning core, and social innovation education core.

Faculty Mentorship Program

The Office of Academic Affairs is considering establishing a professional development and mentoring program for junior faculty. Before doing so, Associate Provost Tonette Krousel-Wood plans to meet with School-specific faculty focus groups to do a needs assessment. Each Dean has been asked to identify a junior faculty member and a senior faculty member from each of their academic units to participate in one of these focus groups. A summary of the findings of the focus groups will be presented to Provost Bernstein in August 2010 and resources for Phase 1 of the mentorship program will be identified by September 2010. Nick asked that each Department Chair identify one tenure-track faculty member and one tenured faculty member to serve on one of the focus groups. During the general discussion, it was apparent that the SSE Executive Committee is strongly supportive of such a program.

JBJ Building

Nick went over the timetable for renovation of the J Bennett Johnston (JBJ) building that will be dedicated to interdisciplinary biomedical research. The current plan is to convert 3.5 floors of the building into open flexible laboratory space and to assign this space to faculty members from multiple schools in focused thematic areas with each thematic area occupying one half of a floor. Jeff Tasker enquired into the status of the document "Vision 2020" and what impact it will have on the assignment of space and allocation of resources.


Associate Dean Beth Wee announced that the School will host the Sally Ride Science Festival on Saturday, April 13, and urged faculty and student participation to make this event a success.

Associate Dean Russ Schmehl said that the number and quality of graduate applications are excellent this year and he reminded the group that April 15 is the deadline for making offers to prospective graduate students.

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