2017 Fall Regular Meeting Minutes

One last time, thanks to Dee for recording the minutes.  If there are any additions or corrections, please submit them now in the comment form below, or come prepared with them at the meeting.  There will be opportunity at the meeting to discuss the minutes prior to approving them.These minutes are for the meeting with this agenda:

2017 Fall Regular Meeting Agenda

2017 Fall Regular Meeting Minutes – November 2017

Early (informal) Meeting

Members:William Bernsen, Chair,Brandi Lowe, Vice Chair (absent), Shelia Steffenson (absent), Noela Garza (arrived at noon), Ken Gold (absent), Keith McNease, Mike Beavers (absent), Dan Stone, Stephen Blaskey, Sonia Gover (absent), James Carr, Miguel Escobar, Chip Urban (absent), Donny Sosa (via phone).

11:00 meeting was called to order by William (Billy) Bernsen.

Since there was not a quorum at the early Board portion of the meeting, Billy Bernsen went over the proposed changes to the bylaws and tabled the vote until a quorum could be met.  Basic review included:

  • minor formatting changes such as capitalization, etc.
  • adding language to include the inclusion of advising on any program, including the Master’s that fall under the program umbrella
  • striking the GIS definition paragraph which has become irrelevant
  • adding language to the right to serve to disallow any person who is a registered student in any College of Science and Engineering program.
  • to change the wording in Sec. 2.02 to read, “appointments will be made commencing with the Fall meeting”. This was due to most times not having a Spring meeting.
  • give the Chair permission to make changes to the Bylaws to reflect the new name of the program as “Geospatial Systems Engineering”.

Afternoon (formal) Meeting

Dr. Gary Jeffress, Dr. Hongzhi Song, and Dr. Lucy Huang, Professors in the Program, joined the group for lunch.  Dr. Tony Nettleman and Dr. Michael Starek joined at 1:00 p.m.  Guests:  Ms. Christine Allman, ABET Coordinator, Ms. Anna Neuman, GISSO President, Mitchel Grimm, GISSO Vice-President.

  1. GISSO Report
    1. Anna Neumann reported that the Student Organization has approximately 25 to 35 members at each meeting this year.  This is up from previous years.  They have been very active having not only fun events for members but also participating in Texas Young Surveyors, making presentations in freshman courses telling about GISSO and their activities, participating in GIS Day at Del Mar Innovation Center and working with the local TSPS Chapter where one of our graduates, James Carr, is now president.  GIS Day had 527 area high school students and our students gave a hands-on demonstration and manned a booth.  They have also created a Facebook page and keep up with posting the latest news about program happenings and events.
    2. One of their proudest accomplishments was the group that competed last Spring in the National Society of Professional Surveyors contest in Washington, D.C. Six students (5 men and 1 woman) took first place in the nation in surveying.  The trophy is now proudly displayed in the Blucher display case.
    3. This year another group of six (4 women and 2 men) will be going to Las Vegas, Nevada, from February 17-21, 2018, to compete in this year’s competition.  The group gave a brief over-view of how this year’s competition will be different from last year’s and how they need funding to be able to compete.  Rather than have a pre-assignment as in year’s past, groups will arrive in Vegas and be given an assignment on day one.  They will then have 3 days to complete the assignment and make a final presentation.  The students are trying to raise funds to make this trip possible.  Any company or individual who would like to help them is encouraged to email Anna at aneumann1@islander.tamucc.edu or call the office at 361-825-5850 and make a donation to help these students reach their estimated budget of $5000.
  2. Minutes of last meeting – The minutes of the last meeting were brought up for approval by Stephen Blaskey, seconded by Noela Garza, approved by all Board members.
  3. Reappointments -Billy Bernsen reappointed all members with the exception of Chip Urban who resigned.  We thank him for his service.
  4. Bylaws Vote – Since the arrival of Noela Garza and having Donny Sosa via phone, a quorum was declared, so a quick review of the Bylaw changes was done by Billy Bernsen.  A motion to approve the changes was made by Stephen Blaskey, seconded by Keith McNeese.  A vote was taken and it was unanimously approved.  Billy Bernsen reminded all attendees that the AAC website has a paragraph where the duties of the Board are clearly defined.
  5. SRI Development Center – Dan Stone questioned what was being done since Rick Smith, who headed the ESRI Development Center, has left the University.  Dr. Jeffress reported that Dr. Lucy Huang has taken over Rick’s duties.  Also reported was that Dr. Smith had attended the Development Summit along with 2 of our students.  Mr. Stone suggested that Dr. Michael Starek be added as a contact to ESRI due to his work with aerial mapping of the campus.
  6. Jeffress reported that the name change to Geospatial Systems Engineering is now before the Coordinating Board for approval and we are awaiting their response. This is the final step before it can become official.  This will be for both the undergrad and graduate programs.
  7. Recruitment & Retention
    1. Dr. Nettleman reported that we have signed agreements for matriculation for every surveying program in Texas.  All courses are mapped and it appears to be helping gain new students.  This last semester we have enrolled 4 students from Texas State Technical College.
    2. Also, the GISC home page was taken away from our direct control to make all University pages alike in formatting but the information is still basically the same with a few minor changes.  However, we no longer have direct control for updating purposes and it takes a little longer to get any new changes added to the webpage.  Dr. Nettleman is leading the re-working of a new landing page for GSEN students which is being done by a professional outside company.  The Blucher Institute has thus far covered the cost of this endeavor.  Currently there is no funding for advertising and no time release for a professor to promote the program.
    3. Dr. Jeffress reported that he has been working with Klein Independent School District to establish high school courses in GISC that could count toward a student’s college degree. This is in the very early stages but looks very promising.
  8. New Hires
    1. Dr. Jeffress introduced Dr. Hongzhi (Jessica) Song.  She is a Professional Assistant Professor.  She has taken over many of the courses taught by Richard Smith and Seneca Holland.  Since she is not a tenure track, she teaches full time and does not have to concentrate on research.
    2. There are still 2 spots open since the unexpected departure last Spring of Dr. George Zhou.  A committee has been formed and there are 19 candidates who have applied.  The committee will begin phone interviews on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, with the top 5 candidates.  Upon completion of the phone interviews they hope to bring 2 or 3 candidates to campus for a visit.  However, it appears these hires will not take place until Fall 2108.  Until that time, we have adjuncts who will be covering our courses.
  9. Field Camp – Dr. Jeffress told the Board that Crystal Beach Surveying Practice has contacted the program and offered to teach this course for us.  Crystal Beach, Texas is located on the Bolivar Peninsula near Galveston, Texas.  The company has four houses that would accommodate our students.  We have accepted this offer and will begin this process in January 2019.
  10. Enrollment Figures – Dee Edgar reported that in Fall 2017 we currently have 67 undergrad students, 19 master students, and 14 Ph.D. students.   The undergrad enrollment is down from 79 in Spring 2017 due to a large number of graduates.  The master students have increased from 12 last Spring to 19.  As always, we are looking for industry to help by attending their local career days and promoting the program.
  11. Updates
    1. Jeffress reported that we are now part of the United Nations- Global Geospatial Information Management- Academic Network. We were asked to apply and were the third campus in the U. S. accepted.  The University of Maine and Harvard University are the other two.  The first meeting will take place in Mexico and Dr. Jeffress and Dr. Philippe Tissot, Blucher Assistant Director, will be attending the last week of November.  It is our hope that this will lead to funding for research, academics, and in helping needy nations with Geospatial related endeavors.
    2. The Blucher Institute is also pursuing an initiative to move to an independent organizational research unit. Jeffress explained that with the growth of the University Blucher is in a unique position to manage our own research pursuits.  With our administrative team, we can manage our own contracts.  There still are a few hurdles that must be overcome, one of which is currently there is no Vice President of Research or Provost to approach concerning this matter.  As generally happens when a new President is appointed, many of the administrative positions in upper management have been vacated.  Candidates are currently being interviewed and once in place we hope to continue to pursue this plan.
    3. Our online courses in the Master’s program are still being offered. The undergrad program was discontinued in Fall of 2016 due to low participation and lack of help for class preparation by the University.  We committed to remain online for the students who were enrolled at that time until they finish their degree.  Currently we have 4 such students; most will finish in Spring 2018.
    4. Our accreditation with ABET will be coming in 2018. This has been an ongoing process and we will be submitting our self-study next June.
    5. Jeffress gave out the Four-Year Plan (Handout 1) the Registered Professional Land Surveyors of Texas Chart (Handout 2) and had several copies of our webpage for the Board to review (Handout 3). [click here for the first two handouts]  The Four-Year Plan is required by ABET to show the courses that a beginning student would need to take, and in what order, so they could achieve graduation in 4 years.  The Land Surveyors Chart, which Dr. Jeffress produces each year, shows the aging of the profession.  The webpages show our Alumni Milestones such as Young Surveyor of the Year Recipients, Registered Professional Land Surveyors, Licensed State Land Surveyors, etc.
  12. It was noted that this meeting would likely be the last attended by Dee Edgar, whose retirement is supposed to become official sometime before our next meeting.    Her dedication to service was acknowledged, we thanked her for her many years of service, and presented her with a bouquet of flowers as a small token of our appreciation.
  13. Spring Meeting – It was moved by Stephen Blaskey and seconded by Noela and Miguel that we should have a spring meeting.  The committee was unanimously in support of having a spring meeting.  The date and time will be determined later, but it was agreed, in general, that we would review the end of course memos to see how they comply with ABET criteria, hear a report on the competition in Las Vegas, and meet with students to get their positive and negative feedback regarding the program in general.

Meeting adjourned at 3:15 p.m.


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