Letter from the President: Fall 2016

Dear alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends:

We’re now, once again, in the peak of student recruitment season, and Satyajit Dattagupta, our new vice president of enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admission, has brought in fresh faces and perspectives to the team that is recruiting the next generation of Tulane students.

His charge to these new recruiters is simple — continue to increase the quality of Tulane’s student population, with a special emphasis on making it more racially, ethnically and economically diverse.

“Every student should have the experience of working with a group that is different from themselves. Not having that can limit a student’s success,” he says.

“It’s important that our class is more reflective of the world,” he adds. “If you have not been in a university like that, you are at a disadvantage. I believe diversity enhances the way people think in the classroom. Besides, increasing diversity is the right thing to do.”

Tulane is well positioned to make progress in increasing the diversity of  its students as it continues to attract students who are “brave, adventurous and creative” and situated as it is in the global city of New Orleans, where many cultures mingle.

That culture and the very land of New Orleans, of course, would not exist without the Mississippi River. The river created the delta in which we live and is the reason that New Orleans is where it is. This has connected the city to the world for centuries, bringing in goods and people to add to and foster the city’s vibrant economy and richness of culture.

And now Tulane is connected more than ever to the “father of waters” with the recent opening of the 5,500-square-foot Tulane River and Coastal Center on the banks of the Mississippi River. This new campus, located downtown between the Port of New Orleans and Mardi Gras World, offers stunning views of the glorious, powerful and constantly changing river along with labs, offices and classrooms for researchers and scholars devoted to studying the world’s coasts and waterways.

The River and Coastal Center, a component of the newly established ByWater Institute, brings faculty from ecology and evolutionary biology, law, geology, and other disciplines together to address the problems of coastal erosion, rising sea levels and sinking land. It also connects faculty to our partners in the community from government and business to address some of these same issues.

The interdisciplinary work that occurs through the ByWater Institute will have an impact far beyond our city. The institute will serve as a hub for researchers in port cities from Tokyo to London facing similar problems. It will create a network of scientists searching for entrepreneurial ways to extract energy and other resources, while also ensuring that we preserve the environment. We all know that the survival of this region depends on negotiating our relationship with water. What better place and what better university than Tulane to address these problems of sustainability and resiliency.

We launched another new interdisciplinary institute this fall — the Brain Institute. Building on more than 30 years’ success of the Tulane Neuroscience Program, the universitywide Brain Institute is a transdisciplinary entity designed to coordinate and oversee neuroscience-related endeavors at Tulane. It brings together faculty from all over the university — the uptown campus, the health sciences campus and the Tulane National Primate Research Center.

New research facilities for the Brain Institute are currently being built in the Donna and Paul Flower Hall for Research and Innovation on the uptown campus and in the newly renovated J. Bennett Johnston Building on our downtown health sciences campus.

Tulane brain researchers collaborate in a matrix of research groups that includes faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, PhD graduate students, master’s students and undergraduates — all exploring the brain in one way or another.

The pillars of the Tulane Brain Institute are research, education and training, and community outreach and engagement.

The vision is to create a new era of discovery, learning and public influence in the brain sciences at Tulane.

At the launch of the Brain Institute this fall, neuroscience graduates — PhDs and MDs from 1979 to 2009 — came back to campus for an alumni symposium. They reconnected with their former faculty mentors and inspired the current generation of neuroscience students.

Homecoming/Reunion/Family Weekend, Oct. 27–30, offers a great time for you to reconnect with Tulane as well. I hope to see you there — wearing your Angry Wave game face.




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