August 28, 2020
Dear Tulane Community:
It has been said that knowledge and wisdom are gained by every trial you encounter. With the threat of two hurricanes and an ongoing pandemic, I believe the past week qualifies as a trying time. While we are grateful to have been spared serious impact from both recent storms, being within their projected path for so many days is stressful on numerous levels. The restrictions, precautions and alterations needed to keep ourselves and our community safe from COVID-19 only added to the pressure, as does the concern for our alumni, friends and family living in areas that were impacted. And the fact that all this happened as the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches is not lost on any New Orleanian.
So, what have we learned from this time? Personally, the most important lesson I drew from this week was a reminder of what I already knew – that we have the most incredibly committed, courageous, resilient and tenacious Tulane family. We are a community that cares for one another or, put another way, not for one’s self, but for one’s own. This begins with our amazing students. This has not been the beginning of an academic year that anyone would have chosen or envisioned. Yet, you have been determined to not let anything interrupt your education and the pursuit of your dreams. Social media likes to post photos of some students not following COVID-19 safety protocols. We are dealing with such violations, but the vast, VAST majority of you are doing the right thing and helping to protect your peers, your community and your professors.
As for our brilliant faculty my appreciation for you grows daily as I witness your innovation and adaptability to hybrid instruction and meeting the other challenges of today’s socially distanced, technology enhanced classrooms. Teaching is not only your profession, it is your passion. The knowledge you impart today and the ideas you inspire will create a better tomorrow for all of us. So, too, our medical professionals and research faculty who are caring for COVID-19 patients while searching for new treatments and vaccines.
And finally, our dedicated staff, who empower everything we do and who put in long, often unnoticed, hours on work that is so vital to our mission. I hear the enthusiasm in your voice when we meet on campus and you update me on your department’s progress. I rely on your expertise and judgment in numerous circumstances because I know you are driven by a love for Tulane and the pride of a job well done.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
COVID-19 has been a life-changing reality for all of us for at least the last six months and will, unfortunately, be with us for some time to come. So, I can’t promise you there will be no more trials going forward. I can only assure you of my gratitude that, whatever the future holds, good and bad, we will face it together.