SSE Executive Committee Meeting

May 13, 2011
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present: Altiero, Gaver, Chen, Godbey (for Pratt), Koplitz, Nelson, Darwin (for Heins), Kalka, McGuire, Ruscher, Tasker, McPherson, Schmehl, Wee, Parker, Engleman

Absent: Oertling

Guests: MacLaren, Balsamo

Enrollment Issues

James MacLaren, Dean of Newcomb-Tulane College, joined the group to discuss the enrollment pressures being caused by the projection of yet another large freshman class. The following problems were identified during the lengthy discussion: lack of timely data on course registration, class sizes, and waitlists; insufficient number of faculty to handle additional course sections; insufficient number of teaching assistants to handle additional laboratory and recitation sections; insufficient laboratory and classroom space; need for better coordination of course offering times. The School has been granted additional resources to add lecture and laboratory sections but it was generally agreed that this has been insufficient to deal with the projected need. Short-term actions: Dean MacLaren will compile more accurate waitlist data and will make this data available to the Department Chairs; Department Chairs will let Dean MacLaren know how they have allocated the additional funds they have received to date and what their additional needs are; Dean MacLaren will make a case for additional funding that can be presented to the Provost. Long-term actions: access to better data including better management software; access to classrooms currently not available for introductory undergraduate courses; expanded laboratory facilities.

Environmental Health and Safety Audit

Jim Balsamo, Director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS), joined the group to discuss the comprehensive environmental health and safety audit that is being planned for fall 2011. The university has contracted Woodard & Curran, LLC, to perform this audit in which they will evaluate compliance with environmental issues (as required by EPA) and health and safety issues (as required by OSHA, FAA, and other agencies). The environmental audit is scheduled for the week of October 3-7 and the health and safety audit is scheduled for the week of November 7-11. The group discussed what information will need to be submitted in advance of the audit, how the visits will be handled, the role of the departmental safety representatives (DSRs), and access to facilities. A comprehensive written report will be received within four weeks of completion of the audit containing compliance information and recommendations. It was agreed that audit preparation should be included on the agenda of the next meeting of the SSE Executive Committee.


By the beginning of fall semester, the web sites of all units in the School of Science and Engineering must conform to the standard SSE web site format. Currently the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Neuroscience Program are the only two sites that conform to this standard but the others are at various stages of completion. A number of concerns were raised about maintenance of content on these new web sites and it was agreed that there needs to be thorough training of all departmental staff and faculty charged with content management.


Gary McPherson, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Facilities, reported on the timetable for demolition of the Taylor Laboratory building and construction of Flower Hall. He also reported on the timetable for installation of new elevators in Stern Hall. There was a general discussion regarding how best to handle the disruptions that these projects will cause. Don Gaver, Chair of Biomedical Engineering, asked about the effluence from fume hoods in the new building and the effect of the new structure on wind patterns in the science and engineering complex. He was assured that these issues are being addressed. Kat Engleman, Senior Director of Development, reported that we are now within $500k of completion of funding for the Flower Hall project and a web site has been established to be used in the fundraising effort.

Russ Schmehl, Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, reported that we now anticipate 40 new doctoral students in fall 2011. This is short of the goal of 50 and departments were encouraged to continue their recruiting efforts.

Beth Wee, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, outlined the new university policies regarding volunteers in research laboratories.

Unfinished Business

  • Strategic Plan update.
  • Graduate student recruiting and financial aid.
  • Policies concerning professor of practice and research professor appointments.
  • Training of graduate students in teaching, scientific writing, and English language skills.
  • Effective use of Digital Measures in generating faculty activity reports.
  • Staff merit raise and bonus policy.

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