SSE Executive Committee School of Science and Engineering

October 19, 2007
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present:Altiero, Burdsal, Engleman, Gaver, Heins, John, Kalka, Koplitz, McLachlan, McGuire, McPherson, Nelson, Dohanich (for Ruscher), Tasker



Board of Advisors Meeting – Altiero

The School of Science and Engineering Board of Advisors meeting is scheduled for Friday, October 26, 8:00 AM – 1:30 PM, at Goldring-Woldenberg II. There will be a reception the evening before at the Audubon Park Golf Course Clubhouse and a Hospitality Tent on Saturday at the Louisiana SuperDome. Executive Committee members are asked to participate in the Board meeting and are welcomed to attend the associated social functions. Executive Committee members and Office of the Dean staff members have been assigned to Board committees as follows:

  • Planning and Operations – Altiero, Parker
  • Student Recruiting and Retention – Burdsal, Longlois
  • Research Enhancement – McPherson
  • Alumni Relations – Guedry
  • Development – Engleman

The remaining members of the Executive Committee are asked to send their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd committee choices to Nick Altiero and he will assign two additional members to each committee.


Machine Shop – Altiero

Nick announced that he would like to convert the school’s machine shop into a shared university facility. He is appointing a committee to look into what this shop ought to look like and how it should be operated. Members of the committee will include Scott Bernhard and Sam Richards (Architecture); Gabe Navarre, Maureen Lichtveld and Chad Roy (Health Sciences), and David Rice, Ulli Diebold, John Sullivan, Jeff Chambers, Tony Jensen, and someone from the chemistry sciences (Science and Engineering). The committee will be convened as soon as possible.


Dean’s Council Report – Altiero

Nick reported on the Tulane University Deans Council meeting of October 16. The most significant items discussed were as follows.

  • Faculty annual review and raise processes in each of the schools, including salary increases at the time of promotion.
  • Faculty retention practices, post-Katrina and in the future.
  • Sabbatical approval and expectations.
  • Process for Associate Dean and Department Chair appointments.

The Executive Committee discussed the effect of “salary compression” on faculty morale and retention.

There was a consensus that we need to find more ways to recognize faculty members who contribute to the vitality of the School not only in research but also in teaching and service.


Health Science Leadership Council Report – Altiero

Nick reported on the Tulane University Health Science Leadership Council meeting of October 16. The most significant items discussed were as follows.

  • Christine Hoffman from the Corporations and Foundations Office in Institutional Advancement presented a potential opportunity for funding from the Keck Foundation. An effort will be made to put together a strong proposal involving the schools of Science and Engineering, Medicine, and Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
  • Collaborative academic programs were discussed including the possibilities of an undergraduate minor in physiology or biomedical sciences and masters degrees that might be attractive to health professionals.
  • Lance Query, Director of Libraries, will be invited to a future meeting of the group to discuss issues pertaining to our library collection in the sciences and engineering. Of great interest will be the future expansion of electronic resources such as the Web of Science.
  • The University has embarked on a thorough review of space usage in the J Bennett Johnston Building. Research space will be reallocated based on productivity metrics.

The Executive Committee discussed space allocation at some length. It was agreed that the School of Science and Engineering needs to develop a space allocation process based on metrics that are relevant to its mission. How these metrics compare to those used by the other schools will need to be assessed if we are to effectively share space in the J Bennett Johnston Building and in the planned life sciences research complex.


Business School Post-Doctoral Bridge Program – Cook and Trapani

Vic Cook and John Trapani from the A.B. Freeman School of Business joined the group to discuss this new program which allows non-business PhD holders to transition into related fields of research in business thus qualifying them to be hired as faculty members in AACSB-accredited business schools. This program is particularly attractive to recent PhD recipients in Mathematics, Psychology and Physics. It was proposed that this could be used as a recruiting tool at Tulane whereby incoming PhD students could be guaranteed admission into the bridge program, subject of course to certain conditions such as grade-point average and faculty recommendations, and receive a 50% tuition reduction. It was agreed that we should formalize such a program as soon as possible. There was also general interest in other joint programs with the Freeman School such as BS/MBA and MBA/PhD partnerships.


Finance and Personnel Issues – Parker

Sandy Parker was unable to attend. Nick reported that he had not yet heard from the Office of the Provost regarding approval of the School’s faculty and staff hiring plan.


Research and Graduate Issues – McPherson

Gary McPherson reported briefly on what he plans to discuss with the Research Enhancement Committee of the Board of Advisors. He reiterated that limited laboratory is currently the biggest barrier to growth of the research enterprise. Short-term plans to renovate the Taylor Lab building and to build a new clean room facility were discussed and the group was brought up to date on fundraising efforts.


Undergraduate Issues – Burdsal

Carol Burdsal briefed the group on the plans for a unified Commencement ceremony followed by a Newcomb-Tulane College diploma ceremony. There was a discussion of the implications for School of Science and Engineering students, faculty, and staff. The implications for graduate students were also discussed and Nick reported that the schools of Science and Engineering, Liberal Arts, Continuing Studies, and perhaps the Biomedical Sciences, would conduct a joint hooding and diploma ceremony on the morning of Friday, May 16.

Carol also brought up the subject of assessment and, in particular, how the capstone experience will be employed as an assessment tool. This will be an important component of our SACS accreditation review. It was agreed that we would use what the engineering degree programs are already doing in response to ABET accreditation criteria as possible templates for the other programs in the School. A meeting has been scheduled by the Office of the Provost on November 5 to discuss this.

Nick reported that School of Science and Engineering students will now be able to take computer science courses offered by the School of Continuing Studies subject to the 9 credit limit on SCS courses. CPST 100 level courses are still excluded.


Development Issues – Engleman

Kat Engleman reported on trips that she is taking, with and without Nick, to meet with major gift prospects. Approximately 1⁄2 of these trips are assessment/cultivation in nature and about 1⁄2 involve gift solicitations. Gift solicitations have been focused on building the endowment and raising funds for facilities.

Kat also described “strategic vision roll-out events” at which Nick will present the plans for the School to targeted alumni groups. The current plan is to hold 11 such events in 9 cities. There was a discussion of the role that faculty members might play in such events and it was agreed that faculty presentations could be very effective as long as we are careful to use faculty time sparingly. It was also agreed that faculty members should be invited to make presentations to the SSE Board of Advisors.


Old Business

Nick has still yet to receive from each of the Department Chairs a departmental definition of “research productivity” and corresponding teaching load policy. This should be done immediately as this topic will appear on the agenda of the November meeting.

There has been no word yet from the central administration on the definition of “centers” and “institutes.”

Nick reiterated that he would invite the new Dean of the Medical School to a future meeting of this group. Dean Ben Sachs will be joining Tulane in November.


New Business

Nick noted that we have not been approving minutes of these meetings. He asked that all committee members take a look at the minutes of the meetings of August 24 and September 21 (both posted to the web) and report back any needed corrections.

The group discussed appointments of faculty members to endowed positions. It was agreed that appointments to endowed Chair positions should involve formal open searches. However appointments to endowed Professor and Early Career Professor positions will be done by the Dean in consultation with the appropriate Department Chair(s).

Vijay John has suggested that many courses at the graduate level could be team-taught across departmental lines or taught by different departments on an alternating basis. Several of the Department Chairs have expressed interest in this possibility. This will be an agenda item at a future Executive Committee meeting.

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