Letter from the President: Fall 2021

Dear Tulane Community:

"I have faith that we will soon return to normal, stronger than ever. Roll Wave!"

These words were spoken by graduate student Logan Smith as he accessed a Wi-Fi hotspot on Tulane's downtown campus just days after Hurricane Ida.

Logan's words were echoed in the thoughts, plans and prayers of Tulanians worldwide - from the youngest first-year student to the most seasoned senior administrator to members of our global family of alumni. Now, as we approach the midway point of the fall semester, we see that Logan's confidence in the Tulane community was well-placed. We are indeed back and moving forward together - stronger than ever. As we do so, we are helping our neighbors in Southeast Louisiana recover through countless hours of hands-on volunteer work, donation drives and partnerships with government and civic groups at all levels. Through our research and expertise, we are also leading a wide range of water management, coastal restoration, climate change and flood protection efforts throughout New Orleans and the region.

Our response to Ida, as well as the ongoing challenge of COVID-19, exemplify the Tulane spirit and hearken back to our beginning as an institution 187 years ago. Back then, the earliest Tulanians came together to seek answers and educate future generations on combating threats such as yellow fever. Today, we are still confronting infectious diseases, but are also leading the way in advancing discoveries in environmental sustainability, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, disaster management and numerous other areas, while serving as home to some of the country's leading scholars, writers, artists and thinkers.

Those of you who are longtime members of the Tulane family could have predicted that even the double-hit of a hurricane and a global pandemic would not break the Tulane spirit. Rather than crumble, we thrived. Over the past year and a half there has not been one dimension of university life in which Tulane has not innovated. From research to service, from finances to facilities, from healthcare to community service, from admissions to commencement, Tulane has adapted, adjusted and grown.

We have remained forward-facing, future-focused, essential and impactful - locally, nationally and worldwide. Our researchers developed one of the earliest COVID-19 tests, wrote an influential study on the coronavirus' origins and conducted clinical trials of the latest vaccines, including those still in development. Our doctors and other healthcare professionals continue to care for COVID-19 patients while our nation-leading regimen of safety protocols and rigorous testing, contact tracing and isolation helped protect the Tulane and New Orleans communities.

To make way for even greater contributions in the future, we are expanding efforts such as the Tulane University Translational Science Institute, which will help bring our scientific discoveries and breakthroughs to market (and to patients) even sooner, while also developing the next generation of clinical investigators.

We are physically growing as well. Construction on Steven and Jann Paul Hall (the new home for the School of Science and Engineering), expansion of the Don and Lora Peters Academic Center for student athletes, continued work on The Village (our new undergraduate residential quad), and welcoming tenants to Thirteen15 (the latest Tulane residential addition to our downtown campus), all of these transformative projects are on the agenda this semester.

Central to all of our expansion and growth is a continued commitment to creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Tulane, one that elevates, listens and responds to all voices. We will continue to engage in open and honest conversations that bring about real and lasting change in how we welcome, value and empower all to succeed.

Being dispersed for the storm and socially distanced by the pandemic has given us a new appreciation for the richness of campus life and the traditions that unite us as Tulanians. More than ever, we cherish moments of community, gathering and shared experiences of all kinds - from in ­person classes to plays, exhibitions and other events. One such moment is the Homecoming, Reunion and Family Weekend, which will take place Nov. 12-14. I hope you will be able to make it to campus and see for yourself how we have met challenges of many kinds, thrived and remained laser-focused on a better future for all.

Roll Wave,

Mike Fitts signature



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