SSE Executive Committee Meeting

November 5, 2010

8:00 AM — 10:00 AM


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

Absent: None

Tulane Deans' Council Topics

Dean Nick Altiero brought the group up to date on a number of topics that have recently been discussed at Tulane Deans' Council meetings. The list included the promotion and tenure process, the professor of practice position (including eligibility for University teaching awards), social entrepreneurship professorships, administration of graduate programs, transition to decentralized budgeting, the new Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching (CELT), Workforce Management Office issues, and Registrar and Office of Financial Aid issues. In the discussion that followed, the group embraced the idea of the SSE establishing its own annual teaching award for which professors of practice would be eligible.

The group also discussed the New Faculty Member's Guide to SLA and the Handbook for Department Chairs that have recently been posted on the School of Liberal Arts web site. It was agreed that there is no imperative for the School of Science and Engineering to develop such documents at this time.

Service Learning Courses

The rapid increase in the size of the undergraduate student body has put enormous pressure on the faculty to offer more service learning courses. Currently there is an adequate number of such courses to accommodate the tier 1 (freshman-sophomore) requirement but, as the number of juniors and seniors increases, there is a growing need for more upper level courses to satisfy the tier 2 requirement. Currently SSE students comprise approximately 25% of the undergraduate student body at all levels but SSE offers only 10.5% of the approved service learning courses. On the other hand, SSE offers virtually all of the laboratory courses at the undergraduate level and a very large number of SSE undergraduate students are engaged in research projects for which they are receiving academic credit (well over 200 this past academic year). Dean Altiero has discussed this issue with Provost Michael Bernstein, who has expressed the view that research experiences could be the foundation for second-tier service learning and has encouraged SSE faculty to bring forward proposals along those lines in order to "forge a link between our research mission and the second-tier service learning requirement."

Graduate Recruiting – Schmehl

Associate Dean Russ Schmehl reported that the Dean's Office has purchased a list of prospective doctoral students from the GRE testing service, noting that the list was compiled so as to satisfy a number of qualification criteria and the names have been sorted by discipline. This data is being loaded into CONNECT and information on our graduate programs is being emailed to these prospects. Departments need to be prepared to respond to inquiries that they receive as a result of this electronic mailing. It was emphasized that doctoral recruiting is a top priority of the SSE as we seek to increase our doctoral enrollment from 300 to 400 over the next several years.

Course Numbering System – Altiero/Schmehl/Wee

The group discussed the course numbering system and it was agreed that a common definition of course levels is needed. After some discussion, the following set of definitions was adopted: 1000 and 2000 courses are introductory level undergraduate courses, 3000 and 4000 are upper level undergraduate courses that may be cross-listed with 6000 courses, 6000 courses are lower level graduate courses that may be cross-listed with 3000 and 4000 provided the higher designation implies additional work, 7000 courses are upper level graduate courses that may not be cross-listed with undergraduate courses and may only be taken by undergraduates with written approval of the instructor, and 9000 courses are upper level graduate courses for graduate students only.

Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

The group agreed on a statement on Confidentiality to be added to the SSE Promotion and Tenure Guidelines. The statement is as follows: "The promotion process, including the deliberations of departments and of the SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee, is confidential. No department, ad hoc committee, or SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee member may share with either the candidate or any outside party other than those identified in these guidelines information concerning the deliberations. The only exception is that the Department Chair and/or the Dean may share with the candidate guidance and advice resulting from the review and, at their discretion, may inform the candidate whether the department's vote was positive or negative. In no case shall a candidate be told the vote tally." It was also agreed that this statement could be added to the guidelines immediately without a formal vote of the faculty.

Research Faculty Appointment Guidelines

The group reconsidered the "Research Faculty Appointment" document that was drafted in August 2006 and it was agreed that this document needs to be revised. There was general agreement on the following: (1) there should be only one "rank," that of Research Professor; (2) appointment to such a position should be based on approval of the faculty of the home department (or, in the case of a home center or institute, approval of the Executive Committee) and the availability of grant funding; (3) an individual appointed to such a position may serve on and co-direct thesis and dissertation committees; (4) part-time appointments are allowable if grant funding is insufficient to provide 100% of salary. Dean Altiero agreed to draft a new document for approval at the next Executive Committee meeting.

Employment of Partners/Spouses

There are a number of faculty members whose partners/spouses are currently seeking faculty or staff positions. The group discussed what can be done to assist them. Dean Altiero cited the "Partner Opportunities Program" web site that is operated by Tulane, Loyola, UNO and Xavier as one resource. He also said that he has contacted WFMO to see if the University can be more proactive in matching partners/spouses to staff positions.

Strategic Plan – Phase II

The second half of this meeting was dedicated to a discussion of phase II of the SSE strategic plan, Vision 2018. Dean Altiero gave an assessment of the School's progress over the past 4 years and outlined what he believes needs to be done to set our course for the next 5 years. During his PowerPoint presentation, a number of suggestions were offered that were incorporated into the presentation and Dean Altiero said he would distribute "Draft #1" of this document to the group after the meeting. The strategic plan will be the main agenda item at all Executive Committee meetings for the remainder of this academic year, including an Executive Committee retreat (to be held on 7 January 2011) that will be entirely devoted to this subject.

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