SSE Executive Committee Meeting

January 25, 2013
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present: Altiero, Chen, Engleman, Gaver, Heins, Kalka, Koplitz, Mao, McPherson, Mislove, Oertling, O’Brien (for Overstreet), Parker, Robinson, Tasker, Tornqvist, Wee

Absent: Ruscher

School Deans’ Group and Health Sciences Leadership Council Topics

Dean Nick Altiero briefed the group on topics that have recently been discussed by the Tulane School Deans’ Group and the Health Sciences Leadership Council (HSLC). Most notable among these are: budgeting scenarios for FY15 and beyond; the role of “engagement” in academic reviews; the University strategic planning process; and federal funding strategies. There was a general discussion about the current (and projected) SSE budget and it was noted that the three biggest challenges continue to be indirect cost recovery, start-up packages for new faculty, and renovation of facilities. Dean Altiero then distributed a white paper prepared by an ad hoc faculty committee entitled “Academic Review and Engagement at Tulane University.” This draft document generated a great deal of discussion and it was decided that it will next be distributed to the SSE faculty for their reaction and feedback. Finally Dean Altiero reported on a recent discussion by the HSLC on federal funding strategies and action items aimed at building the sponsored research portfolio of the University. That discussion focused on: the strategic theme of “integrated discovery”; some immediate and near-term funding opportunities; and some “best practices” to engage and incentivize faculty.

Preparation for 27 February SSE Faculty Meeting

Dean Altiero went over the proposed agenda for the 27 February SSE faculty meeting. The agenda will include the annual visit by President Scott Cowen, a brief presentation by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety on disposal of biological waste, a brief presentation by the Office of Disability Services on expanded services of that office, and proposed amendments to the SSE Constitution and Promotion and Tenure Guidelines to address reappointment and promotion of Professors of Practice. Copies of the proposed amendments were distributed to the group and there was an extensive discussion. These proposed amendments have also been shared with the Provost and Dean Altiero plans to meet with him before finalizing the documents and submitting them to the SSE faculty for approval. The above-mentioned document on the role of engagement in academic reviews may also be added at the 27 February meeting agenda.

Faculty and Staff Evaluation Process

Dean Altiero went over the timelines for faculty and staff annual reviews. All SSE faculty members are expected to have entered their 2012 activities into Digital Measures and to have provided a hard copy of their updated CV no later than 1 February. Department Chairs should plan on meeting individually with each of their faculty members between 1 February and 15 February (for evaluation of their performance and load assignments) and with Dean Altiero between 15 February and 1 March (to discuss the evaluations and determine merit raise distribution for tenured/tenure-track faculty and professors of practice). As in the past, all faculty raises will be based on merit and there will be additional raise increments provided by the Office of the Provost for faculty members promoted to the rank of Associate Professor or to the rank of Professor. The Office of the Provost will not be providing additional raise increments for faculty members promoted to the rank of Senior Professor of Practice but Dean Altiero is looking into ways to do that at the school level. Staff evaluations can be completed online and are due no later than 28 February. Hard copies of these evaluations must be provided to the SSE dean’s office. There is no need to meet with Dean Altiero regarding staff evaluations unless a particular staff review is negative. A question was raised about raise policy pertaining to research professor and postdocs. Dean Altiero reminded the group that merit raises for research professors and postdocs may not exceed the maximum faculty raise level.

Strategic Planning

Dean Altiero reported that he is working on the SSE draft strategic plan and it was his intention to distribute that plan in early February. The draft plan will be the focus of the 1 March SSE Executive Committee meeting, A second draft will be distributed and submitted to the Provost and the SSE Board of Advisors on 1 April That second draft plan will be the focus of the 12 April SSE Board of Advisors meeting that will include presentations by President Cowen and, tentatively, Provost Bernstein. A final draft will be submitted to the Provost shortly after the 12 April meeting.

Administrative Issues

Assistant Dean Sandy Parker reminded the group that FY12 SACS assessment plans are now overdue and should be submitted as soon as possible. Katie Busby, Director of Institutional Assessment can provide assistance. She also provided more detail on the staff evaluation process including logistics of submission, upper bounds on merit raises to postdocs, and the salary implications of negative reviews.

Graduate Program Issues

Dean Altiero reported on behalf of Associate Dean Janet Ruscher, who was unable to attend the meeting. He reported that a proposal is before the Graduate Council to provide a subsidy equivalent to 50% of the annual cost of the university health care coverage to graduate students on eligible university stipends. In the event that a student shows proof of coverage other than the university student health care plan, no subsidy will be provided. Once this passes in the Graduate Council, the policy will be disseminated to the students and department chairs. Also from Associate Dean Ruscher: if a department has an excellent prospective student from an under-represented US minority, the dean’s office may be able to provide some financial support for a campus visit.

Undergraduate Program Issues

Associate Dean Beth Wee said that the SSE Curriculum Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday, 28 January, and it is critical that all proposed course and curricula changes be submitted by the end of today. She also reported that the Tulane Teacher Certification program is seeking to attract more undergraduate science and engineering students. Morris Kalka suggested that the program might look into the NSF apprenticeships that are intended to engage graduate students in teaching math and science in high schools. Finally, Professor Wee said that she and Associate Dean Ruscher would be coordinating undergraduate and graduate student participation in the Board of Advisors luncheon on 12 April.

Facilities Issues

Associate Dean Gary McPherson echoed Dean Altiero’s concern about rising renovation costs. He said that we would continue to move forward on the most critical renovation projects but we may need to defer some less time-critical projects to next fiscal year.

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