Welcome Back!

Dear Tulane Community:

Welcome back! I am thrilled to see all of our students returning for the Spring 2016 semester today. The campus was so quiet without you. I realize that it might take a few days to get back into the rhythm of academic work after the relaxed pace — and ample opportunities to sleep in — of winter break, but the renewed energy on campus is palpable. Tulane is brimming with activity this semester and I have much to tell you.

First, I have created a Presidential Commission on Race and Tulane Values. Our community embraces mutual respect, support for students of color and a strong sense of belonging for all students. The goal of the commission is to bring those Tulane values to full expression. Commission members, including student leaders, faculty, staff and administration, will work to improve diversity in admissions and in our faculty, and to improve the campus climate for students of color. We will begin our community dialogue during Martin Luther King, Jr. Week for Peace with a Presidential Town Hall on Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. in the LBC. I will provide more details on all of these priorities later this week in my next View from Gibson.

This also is a time to celebrate Tulane's progress on a number of fronts:

We have increased and improved campus mental health services.
We have hired Tulane's first full-time Title IX coordinator, Meredith Smith, to enhance our efforts to address gender issues and sexual assault.
We have heightened campus security measures.
We are implementing financial strategies to increase our efficiency and to help us better advance our academic goals.

Best of all, we are working on numerous initiatives to build a more vibrant student experience, with greater links between learning, living and service. And we are strengthening research collaborations in areas where Tulane is a global leader, including energy, the environment and health.

To further these goals, we have found generous support for several campus projects. We will renovate the former Social Work building to house campus advising and career services, a place for students to plan their bright futures. We will begin expanding the business school complex. We will build the Tulane River and Coastal Center, a magnet for research and development.

As the semester progresses, we will have a unique occasion to celebrate everything that makes Tulane great and ensures its brilliant future. I intend my March inauguration as president, with its theme of "Crossing Boundaries," to shine a spotlight on Tulane and to unify the community in celebration of the road ahead.

We have much to look forward to in Spring 2016. Let's dive in and have a wonderful semester.