April 2, 2020
In our second week of online learning, let me thank you for acclimating to your new environment like only Tulanians can – with strength, resolve and an unyielding compassion for our Tulane family. I applaud your efforts to remain focused in your pursuit of knowledge during the "home-stretch" (and, I mean that quite literally) of the semester.
I also want to thank you for staying in touch with me – and each other. Far and away, the messages I received from the students, families and friends of this year's graduates rang loudest – and the love you expressed for Tulane University gives me confidence that our community will emerge from this global crisis stronger than ever.
Every year at Tulane's commencement, legendary New Orleans vocalist, Topsy Chapman, sings a moving rendition of "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" – a poignant reminder to our graduates of a bond between a university and a city unlike any other in the world. Tears are shed – the crowd is brought to its feet – and 12,000 strong are reminded of the profound connection between Tulane and New Orleans.
This deep connection was passionately captured in a letter from a member of the class of 2020 as she left campus and New Orleans amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. She wrote:
"People always said that the city changes you, that once you leave - New Orleans is ingrained in your heart and soul…. It was only once the plane, that was more than half empty, had taken off that I finally understood what it meant to miss New Orleans."
I write to tell you that while degrees will be granted on time, this year's commencement ceremony must be postponed. But, rest assured, Tulane's celebration of life, love and the tenacity of our graduates will ultimately be held where it belongs — in New Orleans. Though we explored every possible approach to holding commencement in Yulman Stadium in May, our plans must be rescheduled. All of our graduates and their families will be invited. And we will find fun, innovative ways for those who are unable to attend in person to participate.
As the world changes by the day, we are not yet afforded the luxury of announcing a new date — but stay tuned. And while commencement will not take place on the originally scheduled date – DO NOT MAKE OTHER PLANS FOR MAY 16th! Hold the date for "TUgether – Connecting the Class of 2020" – a virtual, online fête celebrating this year's graduates.
Let me be clear – this is not your commencement ceremony. Hold May 16th on your calendar for "TUgether – Connecting the Class of 2020", a uniquely-Tulanian celebration to virtually unite you with your classmates. Now, more than ever, is the time to strengthen the bonds of family and friendship cultivated by your time at Tulane University. We will connect enough of this year's graduates, and share enough unbridled joy, that the class of 2020 will be heard around the world.
In the interim, stay well. Study hard. Look out for one another. And keep an eye out for more details regarding commencement and "TUgether – Connecting the Class of 2020."