SSE Executive Committee Meeting

September 3, 2010

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Present: Altiero, Gaver, Chen, Pratt, Koplitz, Nelson, Heins, Kalka, McGuire, Ruscher, Tasker, McPherson, Schmehl, Wee, Oertling, Parker

Absent: Engleman


Dean Nick Altiero announced that, starting with the current cycle of promotion and tenure reviews, the Office of Academic Affairs will notify each candidate of the outcome of her/his review as soon as the review is complete. In other words, they will not wait to make notifications in batches of reviews as has been the past practice. Provost Michael Bernstein has asked that we make the faculty aware of this new practice so that candidates do not "read anything into" early notification of one person's review and later notification of another's. The Office of the Provost will simply process the files one at a time as they are received.

Dean Altiero distributed the University's "Honorary Degree Criteria" and asked the Department Chairs to make certain that all of their faculty are aware of the timetable and guidelines for nominating individuals for the highest award bestowed by the University. Nominations received prior to 30 October 2010 will be considered for the May 2011 Commencement.

Dean Altiero outlined the events that will take place over Homecoming weekend, including the SSE Board Reception on October 7, the SSE Board Meeting and Open House on October 8, and the SSE Hospitality Tent and Game Suite on October 9. These events will be coordinated with University events, including the Alumni Auction and Party on the evening of October 8 that will include Astronaut and SSE alumnus Doug Hurley. The Department Chairs were asked to encourage faculty members to open their labs to visitors during the SSE Open House and to coordinate any alumni events with those of the School and the University.

Promotion and Tenure Guidelines

The group discussed the motion that is currently before the SSE faculty to add the following statement to section B of the SSE Promotion and Tenure Guidelines: "Department faculty who have served as a dissertation advisor or postdoctoral mentor to the candidate should not chair, nor perform the functions of chair, of the departmental P&T Committee convened to review the candidate." After lengthy discussion, a vote of the Department Chairs was taken with the following result: 3 in favor, 5 opposed, 1 abstention. Dean Altiero agreed to report this result to the SSE faculty prior to the next faculty meeting, scheduled for 9 December 2010.

A question was raised regarding confidentiality of the promotion and tenure process. While the SSE Promotion and Tenure Guidelines do not address the confidentiality issue directly, it is understood that the SSE Promotion and Tenure Committee and the Office of the Dean maintain strict confidence with respect to the contents of the dossiers, the deliberations/recommendations of the Promotion and Tenure Committee, and the recommendations of the Dean. However, there does not appear to be a uniform practice among the academic departments regarding confidentiality of departmental promotion and tenure committee recommendations. After lengthy discussion, Dean Altiero asked that each Department Chair discuss this issue with his/her faculty and said that there would be further discussion at the next meeting of the Executive Committee.

Strategic Planning - Phase II

Dean Altiero noted that he had briefed the SSE faculty on the next phase of the strategic planning process at the SSE faculty meeting of 2 September. He now plans to meet with the faculty of each department individually to provide further details, to answer questions, and to seek advice. There was a general discussion regarding the objectives of "phase II" of strategic planning and the timetable. It was agreed that special attention needs to be paid to infrastructure needs (i.e. staffing, budget, and facilities), to research and doctoral education, to undergraduate education, to community engagement, and to diversity. It is expected that the details of the decentralized budget model will be better known by January and this will have great impact on the details of strategic plan implementation.

Undergraduate Issues - Wee

Associate Dean Beth Wee said that the Undergraduate Studies Committee will next meet in October and will consider proposals for new courses and curriculum changes at that time. A question was raised about the deadline for submission of spring semester course assignments and she said she would get back to the Department Chairs with critical dates.

Graduate Issues - Schmehl

Associate Dean Russ Schmehl distributed a hand-out with information on graduate recruiting activities, the Retain database, and the Connect inquiry/application interface. He said that, while recruiting of doctoral students went reasonably well this past year, the School fell a bit short of its goal of 60 new doctoral students. Citing the need for more aggressive recruiting, he announced several initiatives including increased involvement in graduate recruiting fairs. These efforts will be discussed in more detail at the next meeting of the Graduate Studies Committee. Dean Schmehl also stressed the importance of fully utilizing Connect and Retain and offered to meet individually with departmental staff to demonstrate how these packages work.

Personnel and Administrative Issues- Parker

Assistant Dean Sandy Parker reported on (1) issues that were raised at the SSE staff meeting of 1 September, (2) the final FY10 SSE budget figures, and (3) the new University staff performance evaluation process that will be implemented in January. She also reported that three SSE academic departments have yet to submit their SACS FY11 initial assessment plans that were due on June 1. There was a discussion regarding the current SSE pay scale for adjunct professors who teach classes and it was agreed that the current pay scale is adequate.

K-12 STEM Outreach - Oertling

Assistant Dean Annette Oertling drew attention to the K-12 STEM Outreach website and urged departments to report all such activities so that they can be highlighted on this site. She reminded the group that the SSE Board of Advisors now has a committee that is focused on K-12 STEM Outreach and this committee will meet for the first time during the SSE Board meeting of 8 October. On 17 September, the School will host a large number of middle school students associated with the FIRST Lego League program as this year's theme is Biomedical Engineering. Finally Dean Oertling said that many of the K-12 programs in which the School is involved provide excellent opportunities for recruiting outstanding undergraduate students.

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