SSEFaculty Meeting

March 10, 2009
4:00 PM – 5:35 PM


Attendance: Ahsan, Altiero, Aung, Bart, Bishop, Boudaba, Burdsal, Caruso, Chambers, Corey, Cortez, Daniel, Darwin, De Kee, Didier, Diebold, Dotson, Gaver, Gasparini, Godbey, Golob, Hall, Hebert, Heins, Hopkins, Johannesson, John, Kalka, Kaplan, Lacey, Mao, McGuire, McPherson, Molix, Moore, Moosavi, Mullin, Nelson, Oertling, Parrish, Parsley, Pesika, Prindle, Reed, Rice, Rosenheim, Ruscher, Schrader, Shakov, Shevkoplyas, Straub, Sulkes, Tasker, Thien, Varela, Vasudevan, Walker, Wee, Wietfeldt, Wyland, Zhang

Guest: Martinez Minutes The minutes of the meeting of 8 December 2008 were approved unanimously.

Introduction of New Faculty

The following new faculty members were introduced by their respective Department Chairs:

  • Taby Ahsan – Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
  • Sergey Shevkoplyas – Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
  • Nandini Vasudevan – Assistant Professor, Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Robert Pascal – Professor and Baus Chair, Chemistry
  • Kyle Straub – Assistant Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences


Dean Nick Altiero gave an update on the issues discussed by President Scott Cowen at the SSE faculty meeting of 8 December 2008. In particular, he addressed the effect of economic conditions on the University budget, the "headcount stabilization program," raises, and major University initiatives.

Dean Altiero also addressed the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" (ARRA) and the impact this will have on federal agency funding levels, most notably NIH, NSF and DOE. He outlined steps that Tulane will be taking to help facilitate proposal submission.

The SSE is in the process of developing a new website look and this will be followed by a more consistent look to SSE publications and newsletters. The Dean also provided a list of all major events that will be taking place in March, April and May, culminating with the 16 May University Commencement.

Foreign Language Exemption for Engineering Majors

Dr. Beth Wee, Chair of the Undergraduate Studies Committee, presented a motion that engineering students be exempt from the Newcomb Tulane College foreign language requirement. Currently there is an exemption for BSE students but not for BS students. Since Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering students are granted BSE degrees, they are exempt. On the other hand, Engineering Physics students receive the BS degree so they must satisfy the foreign language requirement. Dean Altiero has expressed the desire to have all students in the SSE receive BS degrees but this would imply that an exemption request be submitted for all three programs. After a lengthy discussion, it was agreed that there are two options: (A) Change the Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering degree programs to BS degrees and seek an exemption for all three engineering programs; or (B) Change the Engineering Physics degree program to a BSE degree for which the exemption has already been approved by Newcomb Tulane College. There was general agreement that the later would be the simpler option, i.e. for the faculty of the SSE to approve changing the BS Engineering Physics degree to a BSE Engineering Physics degree. This would not require further approvals. A vote will be taken on this motion at the next SSE faculty meeting.

Dr. James Maclaren, Dean of Newcomb Tulane College, noted that if engineering students are exempt from the language requirement, it will be necessary for a double major to identify the engineering program as her/his primary major.

Amendments to the Grievance Committee Section of the School Constitution

Dr. Hank Bart, Chair of the Grievance Committee, presented a motion to amend the Grievance Committee section of the SSE Constitution in response to recommendations that have been made by the University Committee on Faculty Tenure, Freedom, and Responsibility (FTFR). This included replacing the statement that the committee "shall establish its own procedures" with
more explicit language. There was a lengthy discussion during which a number of modifications were suggested. Dr. Bart agreed to incorporate the suggested changes and to clear the language with University General Counsel prior to the next meeting of the SSE faculty, at which time a vote will be taken on this motion.

2 – 4 Program with the School of Medicine

Dr. Maclaren presented a proposal from the School of Medicine that would allow a student to earn a BS degree in Cell and Molecular Biology and a MD degree in 6 years of formal study with a gap year devoted to service or research. This motion also generated a great deal of discussion. A vote will be taken at the next meeting of the SSE faculty.


The meeting adjourned at 5:45 PM. Minutes by Wayne Reed.

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