SSE Executive Committee Meeting

November 21, 2008
8:00 AM – 10:00 PM


Present: Altiero, Chen, Engleman, Gaver, Heins, John, Kalka, Koplitz, McGuire, McLachlan, McPherson, Parker, Ruscher, Tasker

Absent: Burdsal, Nelson



Nick Altiero reported on the recent meeting of the Tulane University

  • Deans’ Council. Among the items discussed were the following.<> Course evaluations will be conducted on-line this fall and departments are urged to take measures to assure strong student participation. In addition to a common list of 9 quantitative questions and 3 qualitative questions, each course should also include a list of specific questions addressing achievement of intended course “outcomes.”
  • The University has subscribed to a service called “International SOS” that provides tracking and communication with Tulane personnel traveling anywhere in the world. This service also provides medical, emergency, and other alert information for various countries. Tulane faculty, staff, and students can register at They are also strongly encouraged to enter their trip itineraries prior to travelling abroad.
  • The University is developing the capability to provide electronic delivery of instruction during hurricanes and other emergencies. This involves training in the use of the Blackboard on-line system, administrative support, publisher support, messaging, electronic library services, and podcast training. Faculty members should be looking into ways that they can provide 2 – 4 weeks of instruction on-line in the event of an emergency that requires a protracted campus evacuation.
  • The University will begin construction associated with the “Newcomb-McAlister Unified Green Project” in May 2009. This project will completely re-design the Newcomb-McAlister Quad, eliminating all motor traffic. The project is being completely funded through a gift to the University. The group discussed the implications of this major reconfiguration of the central campus.

Nick also reported on the activities of the Tulane University Health Science Leadership Council. Among the items discussed were the following.

  • At the request of the HSLC, a faculty working group has submitted a report entitled “Project 2020: A Vision for the Future of Research at Tulane University,” in which it has made a number of recommendations based on the input of the 11 task force reports developed during the “Task Force to $300M” process. The HSLC presented this report to President Cowen along with its own list of recommendations for immediate and long-term investments. It is expected that President Cowen will respond to these recommendations in the near future.
  • The HSLC plans to organize a retreat for faculty researchers in the Schools of Science and Engineering, Medicine, and Public Health and Tropical Medicine, as well as the Tulane University National Primate Center. This retreat will consist of presentations and poster sessions and will be designed to further promote cross-disciplinary research at the institution.
  • Work continues on identifying common space where investigators from the various schools can be brought together to work in multi-disciplinary teams. The group is also working on a coordinated University hiring strategy in the health- related sciences and engineering.

Faculty and Staff Hiring

Nick brought the group up to date on faculty and staff hiring. While we continue the searches for faculty positions that were approved for AY09, our proposal for additional faculty and staff positions in AY10 is currently on hold pending a more thorough analysis of the budget and current economic conditions. Faculty hiring is going extremely well and a short-term slowdown in filling faculty positions is not viewed as a major problem. There was general agreement, however, that we are short-staffed in a number of areas and that staff hiring should become a top priority.


Academic Initiatives

There are a number of academic initiatives outlined in the School’s strategic plan that require attention. At the October 3 meeting of the SSE Board of Advisors, it was decided that task forces should be constituted to look into the establishment of programs in the following areas: “Engineering Psychology”, “Geological Engineering”, “Computer, Information, and Computational Science”, and “Materials Science and Engineering”. These task forces will have representation from the faculty, the Board of Advisors, and outside consultants.

The group also discussed the RFP from the Office of the Provost entitled “Innovation and Interdisciplinarity in Graduate Education at Tulane”. This RFP calls for proposals for new interdisciplinary doctoral programs and the deadline for submission is December 19. Currently the School of Science and Engineering is involved in a proposal for a doctoral program in “Aging Studies” being lead by the Center on Aging but the group was unaware of any other involvement at this time. Nick asked that he be informed if there are others. There will be two more opportunities to submit proposals, in December 2009 and December 2010, and it was agreed that we should begin thinking now about possible submissions for the next round. Among the topics discussed were the following: Materials, Energy, Translational Science, Science and Public Policy, Informatics, Human- Centered Systems.


SACS Preparation

SACS preparation will be the focus of the next Executive Committee meeting, scheduled for December 19. In advance of that meeting, committee members were asked to provide the latest drafts of the following: departmental mission statements, undergraduate program learning outcomes, and master’s degree program learning outcomes. It was agreed that there should be a common set of doctoral degree program learning outcomes.

There was a discussion about the difference between program educational objectives and program learning outcomes and whether or not the former are required in the SACS accreditation process. The Chairs of departments offering engineering programs offered to make a presentation at the next meeting on how they handle both in their ABET accreditation processes.



The architectural firm that has been hired to develop a School of Science and Engineering space utilization plan (and the plans for renovation of the Francis Taylor building) has now met with all of the department chairs and other key faculty to discuss space needs. The next step will be for them to meet with the dean and associate dean for research and facilities to go over their findings and discuss next steps.


Other Business

Promotion and tenure dossiers are due in the dean’s office no later than December 1. Vijay John, Chair of the SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee, asked that each department include an explanation of how it solicited external letters of review for each case and that the recommendation letters from the departmental promotion and tenure committees present a thorough basis for their findings in the areas of research, teaching, and service.

Research Day is scheduled for April 16, 2009. As in the past, this will consist of the Outstanding Researcher award presentation followed by a student poster session. Since the Tulane Engineering Forum is scheduled for April 3, the poster session can be presented there as well. It was agreed that we should send a special invitation to our colleagues in the health sciences to attend the April 16 events. Nick noted that the Health Research Days downtown are scheduled for February 11 – 12 and urged strong uptown participation in that event as well.

School of Science and Engineering, 201 Lindy Boggs Center, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5764