SSE Executive Committee Meeting

January 13, 2012
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present: Altiero, Gaver, Chen, Robinson, Koplitz, Törnqvist, Heins, Kalka, Mao, Ruscher, Tasker, Burdsal, Wee, Oertling, Parker, Engleman

Absent: McPherson

Guests: Gowdy

Introduction of New Department Chairs

The group welcomed two new Department Chairs: Anne Robinson (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering) and Tor Törnqvist (Earth and Environmental Sciences).

Postdoctoral Scholar Salaries

Dave Gowdy, Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars, gave a presentation on the requirements associated with J visas and H visas. In particular, he focused on new rules that affect the salary requirements for postdoctoral scholars on H visas.

Upcoming Semester

Dean Nick Altiero gave an overview of events that will take place during the Spring semester. These include the Boh Investiture Ceremony (March 9), the FIRST Robotics Bayou Regional (March 15 – 17), SSE Week (March 19 – 23), the Tulane Engineering Forum (March 23), SSE Research Day including the Outstanding Researcher Ceremony (April 12), the SSE Distinguished Leadership Circle Reception and Alumni Awards (April 12), the Board of Advisors meeting (April 13), the Graduate Hooding Ceremony and Reception (May 18), and the Unified Ceremony and SSE Celebration Toast for Graduating Seniors (May 19). The logistics of these events were discussed.

SSE Constitution Amendments

The group discussed amendments to the SSE Constitution that were on the agenda of the recent (December 8) SSE Faculty Meeting. These were as follows.

  • An amendment to replace the Undergraduate Studies Committee with a Curriculum Committee and to re-define the duties of the Graduate Studies Committee passed. The implications of this change were discussed.
  • An amendment that would allow Professors of Practice to serve on the University Senate was tabled. The reason for this action was discussed and Dean Altiero agreed to clarify the wording of the amendment prior to the next (February 16) SSE Faculty Meeting.
  • An amendment to make a number of changes to the Promotion and Tenure Committee section of the SSE Constitution was read (first reading) and will be voted on at the next (February 16) SSE Faculty Meeting. There was a discussion of the implications of this amendment.

Undergraduate Enrollment Issues

On February 15, Dean Altiero and Associate Dean Beth Wee will attend a meeting in the Provost's office to discuss problems associated with the large undergraduate enrollment. The group was asked for input and there ensued a lengthy discussion of the impact the large undergraduate enrollment has had on class size, course availability, classroom availability, laboratory availability, undergraduate research opportunities, study abroad, and so on. It has been proposed that converting to a 4 course per semester system could help alleviate the problem. The pros and cons of such a system were discussed and Dean Altiero asked that the members of the group submit their views on this matter to him within the next two weeks.

Faculty and Staff Evaluations

Staff evaluations can be completed online and are due to the Workforce Management Office (WFMO) no later than February 29. In addition, hard copies of all SSE staff evaluations must be provided to the dean's office.

With respect to SSE faculty evaluations, the following dates are important. Each faculty member must enter his/her 2011 activities into Digital Measures no later than February 1. Department Chairs should meet individually with their faculty members prior to February 15 to discuss their annual performance in the areas of research, teaching and public and institutional service. Each Department Chair must then meet with Dean Altiero no later than February 29 to go over the performance of each faculty member. As in the past, all salary increases will be merit based and will be determined by the Dean after consultation with the Department Chairs.

Other Issues

It is university policy that expenses for purchase of alcohol are generally not reimbursable in connection with meetings or meals where only university employees are present. Exceptions to this must be approved by Dean Altiero in advance and the reason for the exception must be clearly documented.

A question was raised about back-up power. Dean Altiero said that all critical SSE equipment and labs are now on the co-gen system and should not be vulnerable to prolonged power outages. If an investigator has a concern about brief power outages, he/she should invest in a UPS back-up system.

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