Letter from the President: Fall 2020

Dear Tulane Community,

In August, Tulane University celebrated two exhilarating arrivals: NASA astronaut, Doug Hurley (E '88), piloted the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour safely back to Earth on August 2, after a two-month stay at the International Space Station. One week later, Tulanians on Earth experienced an exciting and safe homecoming of our own: students, faculty, and staff returned to campus after five months of meticulous, far-reaching and innovative planning. Guided by our in-house public health and medical experts, as well as health officials at the city, state, and federal levels, Tulane established what may be as comprehensive an array of health and safety initiatives as any university in the nation.

The extensive measures we formulated to promote the safety of our community started well before students arrived to campus. Before moving in, students first spent two days in downtown New Orleans at the Tulane Arrival Center for a COVID-19 testing program facilitated by Campus Health and the School of Medicine. Upon clearance to move onto campus, arriving students were greeted by 18 large, temporary structures on the Newcomb Quad, Berger Family Lawn, and Monroe Quad. These extraordinary facilities, outfitted with state-of-the-art technology and climate control, serve as additional classrooms, dining halls, and performance spaces that promote social distancing and safety. These spaces also help us to maintain our unique, relational culture under difficult circumstances, facilitating the creative connections and academic collaboration that punctuate the on-ground Tulane experience.

A committee of students, faculty and staff also developed new and engaging programming to advance that critically important connectivity while adhering to the strict city and campus guidelines around in-person gatherings.

As we continue with our efforts to promote a safe, engaging fall semester, Tulane, with 186 years of experience fighting infectious disease, is also working at the front lines of the pandemic. As always, we are future-focused.

In addition to continually testing members of the Tulane and New Orleans community and caring for COVID-19 patients, our researchers are hard at work mapping the spread of the virus, studying its origins, and developing new treatments, tests, prevention protocols and vaccines. Tulane experts from a wide range of fields are working together and collaborating with their peers around the country and world. They are also providing their expertise and insights on national and international platforms through interviews with major media and virtual events such as the Plug-In, Tulane Innovation, and Presidential Speaker series. Through these and numerous other events we are keeping our alumni and friends connected in new, imaginative ways, enabling us to engage with more people than ever before.

Over the past few months, we have also witnessed a national reckoning on a centuries-old problem: systemic racism and inequality. In June, I announced a series of important steps to promote a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Tulane, including an expanded commitment to racial equity education; significant increases in financial support for marginalized campus communities; a series of community discussions to examine our path toward justice; commitment to a more diverse staff, faculty and student body; and a refocused, reimagined Presidential Commission on Race and Tulane Values. This is all the beginning of much-needed change, both here at Tulane and around the world.

I have never been more inspired by the determination, resilience and hard work I have seen from the entire Tulane University community, both in our efforts to realize a safe, on-ground fall semester and in our commitment to a more just Tulane. But our work continues as we navigate through this unprecedented period. Tulanians adapt, adjust and respond to profound global challenges, both new and old. I remain grateful for you - our alumni and dearest friends - and treasure your engagement and support. You help pilot Tulane's soaring trajectory and guide our safe landings.

Stay connected. Stay involved. Stay safe. And Roll Wave!





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