SSE Executive Committee Meeting

November 18, 2011
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present: Altiero, Gaver, Chen, Koplitz, Nelson/Tornqvist, Heins, Kalka, Mao, Ruscher, Tasker, Burdsal, Wee, Oertling

Absent: Pratt, McPherson, Parker, Engleman

Guests: MacLaren, Gleason

Newcomb-Tulane College Issues

James MacLaren, Dean of Newcomb-Tulane College, joined the group to discuss pro-active efforts to identify and assist students who are experiencing academic difficulties. This semester, faculty members were asked to submit all mid-term grades to Newcomb-Tulane College so that students with academic difficulties could be identified. Dean MacLaren said that it would be sufficient to flag only those students who are earning D or F grades. He also pointed out that students at risk can and should be identified at any time using the on-line Early Alert System.

Concern was raised about the large freshman classes of the past several years and Dean MacLaren expressed the view that this may again occur in the fall of 2012. It was agreed that we need to begin planning now if we are to offer a sufficient number of class sections to meet the anticipated demand. The shortage of classrooms was also identified as a serious problem. Dean Altiero said that he would continue to work closely with Dean MacLaren and the Office of the Provost on these issues.

Office of the Registrar Issues

Tudie Gleason, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management and Operations, joined the group to respond to a number of concerns that have been raised at past Executive Committee meetings. The issues addressed included the following: problems with the class scheduling system including wait lists and cross-listed courses; problems associated with classroom scheduling including the availability of technology-enabled classrooms; and staffing issues in the Office of the Registrar. Ms. Gleason said that she would do her best to address these concerns. She also said that an additional staff member has been hired by the Office of the Registrar and this should make a big difference.

Ms. Gleason reported that the SSE graduate student tracking system, including degree audit, will be completed soon and should be fully operational in the spring semester.

Strategic Planning Update

Dean Nick Altiero briefed the group on the status of strategic planning and the coordination of the School of Science and Engineering strategic planning process with that of the University. The University is in the initial phase of a strategic planning process that will culminate with a finished plan and the announcement of a capital campaign in 2013. Dean Altiero stressed the importance of the School's strategic initiatives being highlighted in this major fundraising campaign.

Proposed Changes to SSE Constitution and P&T Guidelines

Dean Altiero reported on an inconsistency between the SSE Constitution and the SSE Promotion and Tenure Guidelines regarding how negative recommendations are handled. It was agreed that both documents need to be amended before completion of this year's promotion and tenure cycle. Changes will be drafted and presented for a first reading at the December SSE faculty meeting and a vote on the changes will be held at the first faculty meeting of the spring semester.

The SSE Promotion and Tenure Guidelines also need to be amended to include the review and promotion process for Professors of the Practice. Dean Altiero said that he intends to appoint a task force to make recommendations before the end of the current academic year.

Associate / Assistant Dean Topics

Carol Burdsal, the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, reported on a recent NSF workshop on the topic of "communicating science." She also further elaborated on the graduate student tracking system (see above) that will soon be operational. She stressed the importance of also tracking the alumni of our graduate programs.

Annette Oertling, the Assistant Dean for K-12 STEM Outreach, said that her office plans to place more emphasis on teacher preparation. This will involve expansion of programs that focus on teacher training, more research experiences for high school teachers, and a closer affiliation with community initiatives such as Core Element.

Beth Wee, the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, described the new SSE service learning class that involves mathematics and science tutoring in area schools. This will help meet the need for upper level service learning opportunities in those majors that have been having difficulty providing a sufficient number of service learning courses. She also briefed the group on the efforts of the Board of Advisors Undergraduate Committee to establish a career seminar series in the School.

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