SSE Executive Committee Meeting

October 25, 2013
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present: Altiero, Chen, Gaver, Graas, Heins, Kalka, Koplitz, Mao, McPherson, Overstreet, Parker, Robinson, Tornqvist, Wee

Absent: Mislove, Ruscher, Sanchez

Guests: Davies, Levy

Updates from Academic Deans’ Group

Dean Nick Altiero gave an update on topics discussed at the most recent meeting of the Tulane Academic Deans Group. These included Strategic Planning and the upcoming Capital Campaign, re-drafting of the Faculty Handbook, revision of the core curriculum, status of the decentralized management budget system, budgeting of institutional R&D expenditures, and campus construction and planning.

Budget Issues

The group discussed the status of the FY14 budget. There are two categories of expenditures that are putting tremendous strain on the SSE budget: start-up packages for new faculty and renovation costs. There was a discussion about how these costs could be contained with minimum negative impact.

The group also discussed potential revenue-generating programs such as targeted masters degrees, summer school programming, and license royalties. Currently, several departments offer very successful targeted masters programs and there was a general discussion about how the revenue generated by these programs supports the budget needs of the School. Departments were asked to submit detailed budget information on targeted masters programs to Assistant Dean Sandy Parker.

There was a discussion on how recovered indirect costs on large grants involving multiple schools will be distributed among those schools under the decentralized management budget system. The Office of Research has posted a detailed policy on sharing of recovered indirect costs that has been approved by all of the academic deans.

Presidential Search

Martin Davies and Laura Levy, faculty representatives to the Presidential Search Committee, briefed the group on the status of the, answered questions, and solicited input.

Cost Share Policy

The School (and University) policy on grant cost sharing is that cost shares will be provided only on grants for which a cost share is required, well-defined, and publicly-stated. Concern has been raised about the Board of Regents LEQSF program because the web site indicates matching funds are “attractive” without specification of a required matching level. Dean Altiero agreed to clarify the policy with the Board of Regents.

Residency Requirement for Master’s Degree Students

Stacy Overstreet, Chair of Psychology and a faculty representative to the Graduate Council, said that the council is considering the residency requirement for students in nonprofessional Master’s degrees in light of the growth of on-line and off-campus instruction. She said that she and the other SSE representatives to the Graduate Council were seeking input from the SSE Executive Committee. The group discussed the proposal and agreed that modification of the policy to accommodate such programs would be appropriate.

Release Time Policy

The following School policy was re-affirmed.

“Each department must establish, in consultation with the dean, a standard teaching load for ‘research active’ faculty members. This load is based on common practice for that discipline at peer institutions. Each (nominally three-credit) course taught will count as 30% effort for the semester in which it is taught. Thus if a faculty member is assigned 3 courses per academic year, her/his effort distribution is 45% research, 45% teaching, and 10% service. Faculty evaluations will be weighted based on these effort distributions. Faculty members who do not meet or exceed the threshold that defines ‘research active’ will have load distributions that are weighted more heavily toward teaching and/or service.

It is understood that the research portion of a faculty member’s salary is being subsidized by the University unless recovered from external sources. To ‘buy out’ of an additional course, a faculty member must recover 15% of her/his academic year salary from an external source and receive the approval of her/his department chair. If a faculty member recovers some percentage of academic year salary from an external source but does not opt for further teaching load reduction or is denied further load reduction because of departmental teaching needs, the recovered salary will be used to offset a portion of the University subsidy cited above. The faculty member will be compensated by a departmental contribution to her/his faculty development account to be expended at her/his discretion in support of professional activities. The total amount of compensation will be determined by the department in consultation with the dean but will in no case exceed 2/3 of the recovered salary amount.”

Other Matters

The group considered a request from the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching (CELT) for a faculty view on the proposal to add student photographs to class rosters on Blackboard. All agreed that this could be quite useful for instructors, particularly those teaching large sections, and for the students as well.

The group also discussed site licenses for Matlab. Currently, each department is responsible for its own site license agreement. Since all but two departments in SSE (and many other departments across campus) use Matlab, it was agreed that a University-wide site license would be preferable. Dean Altiero noted that such a recommendation has been approved unanimously by the University Senate Committee o0n Information Technology. Apparently the logistics of arranging a University-wide license is complicated but the dean agreed to discuss the matter with the central administration.

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