SSE Executive Committee Meeting

July 13, 2007

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present: Altiero, Engleman, Gaver, Dyer (for Heins), John, Kalka, Koplitz, Mielke (for McLachlan), McGuire, McPherson, Nelson, Parker, Ruscher

Absent: Burdsal, Mullin, Tasker

Strategic Plan

Nick Altiero brought the group up to date on the status of the Strategic Plan. He presented the plan to the Tulane Board of Administrators on June 14 and will be meeting with President Cowen on July 16 to follow up. He is also scheduled to meet with Provost Michael Bernstein on July 24. The latest draft of the plan will be distributed shortly.


Kat Engleman gave a presentation on the Office of Development and the fundraising priorities of the School of Science and Engineering. The importance of fundraising to the success of the Strategic Plan was strongly emphasized. Kat said that the School’s Chairs and Directors can support the fundraising effort in the following ways: identification of key alumni and friends of the School, provision of promotional materials, identifying critical needs, and serving as ambassadors for their units. It was also emphasized that we must all do our part to assure the currency and accuracy of the Millennium database. All updates to alumni information should be sent to Kat so that she can direct it to the office that maintains the database. It was suggested that all Tulane alumni be permitted to keep their Tulane email addresses for life. It was also suggested that we involve each years graduating class in the Annual Fund campaign

Faculty Hiring

Nick distributed an updated faculty list that included tenured and tenure-track faculty, professors of practice, and research professors. Faculty hiring went extremely well this past year but we now need to be thinking about next year’s requests. A key element of the coming year‘s hiring plan will be that there will be at least 5 and as many as 8 open Endowed Chairs and at least 2 open Endowed Professorships. There was a general discussion of the faculty hiring process and the importance of striving for greater gender and ethnic diversity of the faculty. Committee members expressed the importance of beginning the searches early in the fall semester and Nick said that he would bring up the subject of faculty positions for AY09 when he next meets with the Provost.

Committee Assignments

There are 6 standing committees in the School: Executive, Graduate Studies, Undergraduate Studies, Grievance, Nominating, and Promotion and Tenure. The faculty has agreed to retain the 2006-07 Nominating Committee through 2007-08. Nick asked that each Department Chair now submit the names of their departmental representatives to the Graduate Studies, Undergraduate Studies, and Grievance committees. (Note that Grievance Committee members must be elected by the faculty of the respective departments.) The goal is to have all of these committees operational when the fall semester begins on August 27. Nick will convene a meeting of the Nominating Committee during the first week of fall semester to prepare a ballot for the Promotion and Tenure Committee and representatives to the various university committees.

Research Release Time Policy

The group discussed faculty research release time and associated salary recovery. There was general agreement on the following:

  • Each department is establishing, in consultation with the dean, a standard teaching load for “research active” faculty members. This load is either 2 “regular” courses per academic year or 3 “regular” courses per academic year based on common practice for that discipline at peer institutions.
  • If a faculty member teaches 2 courses per year, her/his effort distribution is 60% research, 30% teaching, and 10% service. If a faculty member teaches 3 courses per year, her/his effort distribution is 45% research, 45% teaching, and 10% service. Faculty evaluations will be weighted based on these effort distributions. Faculty members who do not meet or exceed the threshold that defines “research active” will have load distributions that are weighted more heavily toward teaching and/or service.
  •  It is understood that the research portion of a faculty member’s salary is being subsidized by the University unless recovered from external sources.
  • To “buy out” of an additional course, a faculty member must recover 15% of her/his academic year salary from an external source and receive the approval of her/his department chair.
  • If a faculty member recovers some percentage of academic year salary from an external source but does not opt for further teaching load reduction or is denied further load reduction because of departmental teaching needs, the recovered salary will be used to offset a portion of the University subsidy cited above. The faculty member will be compensated by a departmental contribution to her/his faculty development account to be expended at her/his discretion in support of professional activities. The total amount of compensation will be determined by the department in consultation with the dean but will in no case exceed 2/3 of the recovered salary amount.

Centers and Institutes

It was agreed that the School of Science and Engineering should formalize the process for establishing and retaining “centers” and “institutes.” To be approved as a “center” or “institute” by the Executive Committee, there must be at minimum: (1) an identified Director, (2) a strategic plan that includes a funding model, (3) identified external sources of support, (4) a defined external advisory mechanism, and (5) a defined periodic review process with criteria for continuation. Nick agreed to discuss with the Associate Senior VP for Research what additional criteria, if any, would need to be met for University recognition.

The Center for Bioenvironmental Research (CBR) is already a University recognized center and it is currently undergoing review with a site visit by an external review panel scheduled for August 29 – 30. Other current SSE entities with “center” or “institute” in their titles include: the Center for Computational Science (CCS), the National Institute for Climate Change Research (NICCR) Coastal Center, the Tulane Institute for Macromolecular Engineering and Science (TIMES), and the Center for Anatomical and Movement Sciences (CAMS). CAMS is an instructional, not research, center and should probably be subject to different criteria. The Coordinated Instrumentation Facility (CIF) will not be subject to this policy.

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