SSE Faculty Meeting Minutes

212 Lavin Bernick Center
September 15, 2011
4:00 PM

Attendance: Altiero, Ahsan, Alvarez, Ashbaugh, Aung, Boudaba, Burdsal, Caruso, Chen, Christenson, Corey, Cronin, Dancisak, Daniel, Darwin, Dawers, Di, Dohanich, Dotson, Flowers, Gaver, Godbey, Golob, Grayson, Hall, Hebert, Heins, Herman, Hopkins, Inglis, Jayawickramarajah, Johannesson, Kalka, Khismatullin, Kim, Koplitz, Lacey, Mao, McGuire, McPherson, Mettu, Mislove, Mitchell, Molix, Moore, Mullin, Muneoka, Murfee, Naquin, Nastasi, Nelson, Norton, O'Brien, O'Connor, Oertling, Overstreet, Parrish, Parsley, Pascal, Patterson, Perdew, Pesika, Popescu, Pratt, Prindle, Reed, Rice, Richards-Zawacki, Ruscher, Ruzsinszky, Schmehl, Shakov, Sherry, Shevkoplyas, Sigler, Straub, Szechter, Talbayev, Tasker, Thien, Varela, Vasudevan, Walker, Y. Wang, Wee, Wietfeldt

President Scott Cowen

President Scott Cowen presented a review of fiscal year 2010-11. Among the highlights of the past fiscal year were successful SACS, LCME, and NCAA accreditation reviews; increased student interest and quality at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels; and a modest budget surplus, signaling full financial recovery from Hurricane Katrina. To a great round of applause, he congratulated Physics Professor John Perdew on his election to the National Academy of Sciences. He also announced another $50M gift from the Weatherhead family, their second $50M gift to Tulane during the past 18 months. Among the disappointments of the past year, he identified two uncompleted searches at the University level and a number of IT breaches that have prompted the institution to strengthen IT security.

President Cowen then addressed the institutional objectives for fiscal year 2011-12. He prefaced his remarks with a sobering assessment of the challenges facing higher education. In particular, he identified the following trends likely to have a significant impact on major research universities: the tensions between rising costs in higher education and the ability to grow revenues from tuition increases and other sources; the decline in federal and state funding sources for research and programming; the changes in demographics worldwide and the effect on enrollments and the profile of students seeking higher education opportunities; the value proposition of higher education and the increased demand for institutions to prepare students for changing careers throughout their lifecycle; the economic condition and international standing of the United States and increased competition from other countries; and the impact that the digital revolution and new technologies will have on models of educational pedagogy and delivery.

The president then discussed institutional objectives for fiscal year 2011-12. These included, but were not limited to, beginning phase I of a university-wide strategic planning process; continuing to focus on improving undergraduate retention and graduation rates; continuing to explore pathways to secure the future of the School of Medicine as a highly regarded and recognized academic medical center; continuing strategic planning for a $1 B+ comprehensive campaign; a significant number of capital projects; and implementation of the first phase of a $15M IT investment plan.

There were many questions from the faculty. Among the issues raised and addressed by the president were the shortage of adequate classroom space, the conditions of some teaching laboratories, the effect of large freshman class sizes on retention, the status of the 9/11 memorial between Blessey and Richardson Halls, the specifics of the upcoming University strategic planning process, and the likelihood of additional engineering programs in the near future.

Approval of Minutes

The minutes of the meeting of 5 May 2011 were approved unanimously.

Approval of Voting Faculty

The list of voting faculty for 2011-12 was unanimously approved.

Recognition of New and Promoted Faculty

Dean Altiero announced the following promotions: Stacey Overstreet (Psychology) to the rank of Professor, Jim Donahue (Chemistry) to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure, and Ed Golob (Psychology) to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure. He said that a number of Professors of the Practice have been approved for promotion to the rank of Senior Professor of the Practice but, since these promotions are not effective until the 2012-13 academic year, they will be formally recognized at the first faculty meeting next year.

The Department Chairs then introduced the following new faculty hires for Fall 2011: Lars Gilbertson, Professor of the Practice in Biomedical Engineering; Nahid Gani, Professor of the Practice in Earth and Environmental Sciences; Robert Herbert, Professor of the Practice in Mathematics; Diyar Talbayev, Assistant Professor in Physics and Engineering Physics; Guy Norton, Professor of the Practice in Physics and Engineering Physics; Constance Peterson, Professor of the Practice in Psychology; and Ramgopel Mettu, Visiting Associate Professor in Computer Science. Several new Research Professors were also recognized.


Dean Altiero gave an update on the status of the School, noting that both undergraduate and graduate enrollment are up significantly with undergraduate enrollment exceeding 1700 and graduate enrollment exceeding 400. He thanked Russ Schmehl for his service as Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and welcomed back Carol Burdsal (who will now resume her duties as Associate Dean) from her two year appointment at the National Science Foundation.

Dean Altiero then reviewed the status of strategic planning in the school, noting that we are well positioned to participate in the strategic planning process at the University level. He said that the University has now returned to a decentralized budget system and he has been working with the SSE Executive Committee on the implications of this on the budgets of the individual units. He also gave an update on the Flower Hall project and on SSE fundraising generally, noting that the number of annual donors to the School has increased by more than 150% over the last 5 years.

Proposed Changes to the SSE Constitution

There were first readings of two proposed amendments to the SSE Constitution. The first proposed amendment would extend voting privileges for professors of the practice to include election of SSE representatives to the University Senate, a body on which professors of the practice are eligible to serve. The second proposed amendment would create a Curriculum Committee that would act on all course and curriculum matters at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, would eliminate the Undergraduate Studies Committee, and would focus the Graduate Studies Committee on non-curricular matters. There will be a vote on these amendments at the next meeting of the SSE faculty.

Old Business

There was no old business.

New Business

There was no new business. The next meeting of the faculty of the School of Science and Engineering is scheduled for 8 December 2011.


The meeting adjourned at 5:15 PM.

Minutes by Wayne Reed.

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