Dear Tulane Community:
We are about to enter the height and culmination of the Mardi Gras season as Carnival 2022 continues its triumphant return. What a joy it is to see the parade routes once again lined with family, friends and Tulanians. The Tulane University Marching Band is returning to parade routes, as well, and Tulane faculty, students and staff are riding in krewes throughout the metro area.
Now is also a good time to remember that we must continue to help protect our own health and that of our community and neighbors. In this video, Riptide helps me share some tips on having a fun and safe Carnival.
While we are thrilled to return to our old, familiar Mardi Gras celebrations, there is also a new tradition that has emerged, one that grew from a longing for a shared experience during the pandemic: the New Orleans house float. Last year, when COVID-19 canceled parades, many New Orleanians turned their homes into “floats,” bringing joy to their neighbors, supporting local artisans and businesses, and celebrating the Carnival season safely.
This year’s coexistence of Mardi Gras parades and house floats reminds us that, as life continues after the pandemic, it may be changed forever – but in some good ways. The same can be said for higher education: it will continue after the pandemic, though it may be different, and better. I have a few pre-Carnival predictions about what life in higher education might look like after COVID-19.
Tulane researchers have played a tremendous role in diagnosing, understanding, and treating COVID-19. But scientific breakthroughs don’t happen overnight; they are the result of years of study and incremental increases in knowledge. Our new, heightened awareness of the global threat posed by infectious disease will drive more investment in biomedical research at Tulane and at institutions throughout the country and world. This will better prepare us to confront public health threats in the future.
In the spring of 2020, we went from teaching classes in person to teaching online in a matter of days. Thanks to new technology, we were able to adapt quickly in order to continue our educational mission. But what if the next crisis is a technological one? To mitigate against unforeseen events, teams that can imagine every possibility and help create plans to overcome potential disruptors are needed. I predict a future where the widest range of subject matter experts have a seat at the planning table.
Even before the pandemic, many believed higher education was headed to an entirely virtual future. But when we were forced to distance ourselves from one another, when every hug, handshake and even casual conversation brought the threat of disease, the impact was painful beyond measure. It’s difficult to get to know people when you only interact virtually. It’s harder to share experiences miles apart. When we learn, live and discover side by side, thousands of interactions, both large and small, happen spontaneously. It is magical and memorable. These moments teach us about who we are, what we value, what we mean to one another and how we fit into the world.