SSE Executive Committee Meeting

October 30, 2009
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present: Altiero, Chen, Engleman, Gaver, Heins, John, Kalka, Koplitz, Mao/McGuire, McPherson, Nelson, Parker, Oertling, Ruscher, Schmehl, Tasker, Wee

Absent: None

SSE Goals and Action Steps

Dean Nick Altiero lead a discussion on the action steps associated with the strategic goals of the School of Science and Engineering.

Faculty 1. Recognize, reward, and retain highly productive faculty members. The SSE faculty annual evaluation and reward process was disrupted in academic year 2008-09 due to the salary freeze and problems associated with implementation of the Digital Measures software. The group discussed the importance of getting this process back on track in academic year 2009-10 and continuing to refine it. It was agreed that the School’s professors of practice need to be better integrated into the faculty evaluation and reward process.

Faculty 2. Establish and fill new faculty positions in areas that are consistent with the strategic vision. To fully implement the School’s strategic vision (Vision 2018), it will be necessary to create 15 - 20 new tenure-stream faculty positions over the course of the next 8 years. The disciplines with which these positions will be associated will depend on School and University priorities and availability of funding. There was a general discussion about the process that will be used to identify the positions and the sources of funding.

Faculty 3. Increase the number of women faculty members and the number of faculty members from under-represented minority groups. There has been some progress in recruiting women and minority faculty members. At present 21% of the SSE faculty are women, 4% African American, 12% Asian American, and 4% Hispanic American. There are currently only 3 active faculty searches but the group discussed the importance of drawing a diverse pool of candidates for these and future searches. There was also a discussion about spousal hiring practices and opportunities and what the University and School can do to assist when spousal employment is an important element of a recruiting effort.

Infrastructure 1. Increase the revenue stream from external sources such as sponsored programs, fundraising, and entrepreneurial activities. In order to achieve the School’s strategic vision, it will be necessary to increase annual revenue. The two main sources that have been identified are sponsored research and fundraising (unrestricted and restricted). Both are increasing at a significant rate. Other potential areas that were identified are specialized masters degree programs and licensing of intellectual property. A question was raised regarding how undergraduate tuition will be distributed under the envisioned decentralized budget model and how endowed scholarships will impact the SSE budget. There were also questions about the status of the FY11 budget process.

Infrastructure 2. Develop/implement a staff hiring plan that addresses critical needs in administrative and technical support. The School has submitted a plan to the Provost that identifies critical staff needs. Unfortunately this plan has been put on hold because of the University staff hiring freeze. Dean Altiero said that he would work with the unit heads to update this plan so that it is ready for re-submission as soon as the hiring freeze is lifted. A question was raised about implementation of the recently completed staff compensation plan and it was pointed out that this too is on hold until economic conditions improve.

Infrastructure 3. Complete planned renovation projects and develop/ implement a plan for the additional facilities needed to support the strategic vision. The group was updated on the status of renovation plans for the Francis Taylor Laboratory and the J Bennett Johnston Building.

Undergraduate Education 1. Introduce new undergraduate academic programs consistent with the strategic vision. Task Forces are being appointed to look into the potential establishment of undergraduate degree programs in computer, computational and/or information science; geological and/or coastal engineering; and neural ergonomics and/or human factors engineering.

Undergraduate Education 2. Expand activities that attract and retain undergraduate students in Science and Engineering such as research and design opportunities, internships, and study abroad programs. There was a discussion on the undergraduate experience in SSE. This included study abroad opportunities for science and engineering students, undergraduate involvement in research, internship opportunities, and career services. The number of freshmen in SSE has increased sharply over the past four years but retention remains an issue as many students subsequently transfer into business or liberal arts. The School is now tracking these internal transfers to determine the reasons for this attrition.

Undergraduate Education 3. Achieve a more diverse undergraduate student body. There was a discussion about expanding the 3-2 degree programs with Xavier University and Dillard University to include more than just the engineering majors. Also it was asked how SSE might better exploit its K-12 STEM activities to attract more minority students to the School. Introducing research opportunities for K-12 students was suggested if the liability issues can be worked out.

Research and Doctoral Education 1. Increase the level of funding for research and the number of publications and patents that result from the School’s research activities. Research funding has increased dramatically this fiscal year and is expected to rise even more sharply in the future due to the large number of new faculty hires and the adjustment of teaching loads to levels more comparable to those of peer institutions. There was a discussion about the infrastructure that will be required to sustain this rapid expansion of the research enterprise. There was also discussion about the metrics used to measure research productivity.

Research and Doctoral Education 2. Increase the doctoral enrollment and introduce new doctoral degree programs consistent with the strategic vision. The Task Forces listed above are also looking into the potential establishment of graduate degree programs in the stated areas. In addition, a Task Force is being appointed to look into the potential establishment of a doctoral program in materials science and engineering.

Research and Doctoral Education 3. Achieve a more diverse graduate student body. The group was briefed on the new software that now allows the SSE to follow up on inquiries from prospective graduate students and to customize responses. The School has joined the Graduate Education for Minorities (GEM) consortium and Associate Dean Russ Schmehl said that he would be following up with the departments on how they can benefit from this association toward increasing the number of minority doctoral students in their programs.

Community Involvement 1. Expand involvement in programs that inspire young people to pursue careers in science, engineering and mathematics and prepare them to be successful. Assistant Dean Annette Oertling updated the group on the many STEM programs in which the SSE is now involved and referred all to the web site for current and planned activities.

Community Involvement 2. Build a portfolio of corporate partners with whom we engage in a spectrum of activities ranging from student internships and employment to consulting and research. A Task Force is being established to look into expanding industrial ties and partnerships with industry. 

Community Involvement 3. Increase the number of licenses that result from faculty patents and seek to “spin off” companies based on these patents as appropriate. A Task Force is being established to look into expanding technology transfer and business development activities.

Budget Update

The SSE had a budget deficit in FY09 that was entirely attributed to start-up expenditures for new faculty hires. It is likely that this will occur again in FY10. However, the investment in new faculty is already paying dividends and it is anticipated that the budget will be running a positive balance by FY12, if not before. In the meantime, it is essential that the School meet all other expenditure projections and the budget will be closely monitored to this end.

It is anticipated that the University will be moving to a decentralized budget model by FY12, if not before, and the School will be preparing for this transition.

SACS Update

The deadline for submission of FY10 initial assessment plans was October 12. However the only unit to receive a review of its FY09 plan from the review committee has been the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Sandy Parker agreed to contact the Office of Institutional Assessment to ask about the timetable for receiving the other FY09 plan reviews. Final FY10 assessment plans will be due on June 1, 2010.

Faculty credentials must be entered into Digital Measures no later than January 14, 2010.


Beth Wee reminded the Department Chairs that she needs the name of a contact person from each department with whom she can coordinate Study Abroad activities. There was general agreement that the School needs to be more proactive in identifying and promoting Study Abroad programs that address the needs of science and engineering students.

Kat Engleman thanked the group for their input on her draft document that highlights the School’s fundraising priorities and urged those who had not yet responded to submit their suggested changes within the next week. She also briefed the group on the Tulane Fund campaign that affords the opportunity to target unrestricted gifts to the School.

Sandy Parker said that she has now received most of the faculty doctoral diplomas for the SACS accreditation file but there are still a few diplomas missing; she urged each of the units to impress upon their faculty the importance of submitting these credentials. There was also a discussion about using academic year faculty time as a cost share on grants and the paperwork requirements associated with this practice.

There was a discussion about the Louisiana Board of Regents (BOR) “Research Competitiveness” and “Graduate Fellows” programs and the perception that the success rate for proposals submitted by Tulane SSE faculty may have declined over the past two or three years. Russ Schmehl agreed to look into this and report back to the group. Annette Oertling commented on the need to include a “community impact” component in proposals to the NSF and other agencies. She said that her office, K-12 STEM Outreach, could assist investigators in identifying such opportunities. There was a discussion about inaccuracies on the Registrar’s web site that need to be addressed before registration for Spring semester officially begins. Beth Wee agreed to contact the Office of the Registrar to address this. It was also suggested that the Advising Center be made aware of any discrepancies.

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