A Plan for Now and a Strategy for Tomorrow

October 2, 2020

Dear Tulane Community:

For me, and I know for many of you, the heartbreaking images and personal stories that we have heard both in the news and from our friends and colleagues around racism and injustice have, while troublingly not new, been different this time. In this chaotic and difficult year of 2020, one thing has become painfully clear: We have a tremendous amount of work to do.

I am fully cognizant that at this time, of all times, the need for action has never been greater. While as a community Tulane University has made significant, tangible progress over the last few years, what matters now is not what we have achieved but what we are going to do next.

We need to recommit this institution and ourselves to:

  • Creating a culture that embraces diversity and fosters a sense of belonging for all
  • Recognizing diversity as fundamental to advancing intellectual rigor, learning and scholarship
  • Engaging with intentionality and purpose, and through partnership, building and supporting a fairer and more equitable New Orleans and Gulf Coast region

To that end, I’m relaunching and reinvigorating the President’s Commission on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. I’ve asked the new leadership team – one that is broadly representative of our constituency – to develop what I am calling a “Plan for Now.” This plan will build on initiatives already underway and identify actions we can undertake in the next few weeks and months. These initiatives will have an immediate and positive impact toward becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Tulane, including, among many other steps:

  • Building admissions pipelines to increase diversity, especially from the local region
  • Launching a new Leadership Institute to create new career opportunities and pathways, particularly into middle and senior management
  • Distributing the $2.5 million in additional diversity, equity and inclusion funds and addressing the concerns, priorities and initiatives articulated by students who share our goal to make Tulane a more equitable institution

Please visit the updated Presidential Commission on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page for more comprehensive information on these and other initiatives, to sign up for regular updates so you don’t miss key developments and to share your ideas as we work together to realize these goals.

While the commission’s leadership ensures forward momentum, I’ve asked one member, Anneliese Singh, Tulane’s first Chief Diversity Officer, to also focus her attention on a longer range “Strategy for Tomorrow.” This strategy will set the university on a new course, one that engages our full community in a vision for Tulane related to diversity, equity and inclusion that will carry us forward for the next decade. More information about this strategy and approach will be shared in the coming months.

I am optimistic and excited about what lies ahead. It will not always be easy, but I believe that if we work collaboratively as a community, treating each other with dignity and respect and recognizing that we all have and bring different experiences and perspectives, we can overcome any challenges we may face. And if we get this right, if we address diversity and equity issues with the same resourcefulness, empathy and courage with which we confront other issues, we will be equipping our students to succeed in an increasingly diverse and complex society and economy. We will be able to truly attract the best and the brightest – whether staff, faculty or students – to share a renewed sense of belonging to this great institution. That is how you build a great university.

We are in a unique place. And we are at a unique moment in time. Tulane University tackles its challenges head on, and this should be no different. Let’s do this together.


Mike Fitts