Welcome Back!

Dear Tulane Community:

This is a very special moment in the life of Tulane University. Unlike most other organizations in society, an academic institution enjoys an annual rebirth. Each year a quarter of the undergraduate population are newcomers who bring revitalized energy and expanded opportunity. Not only does this year's entering class come from all over the country and world, it's the largest and most accomplished incoming class we've ever seen. It is so wonderful to greet the class of 2019 and welcome everyone else – students, faculty and staff – back for the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year.

This promises to be a remarkable and memorable year. One reason is the work we began last year to position Tulane as one of the most innovative and sought-after universities in the country. Our Undergraduate Experience Task Force has mapped out an educational model for student academic and extracurricular engagement second to none. We'll start to see the benefits soon, with a wider choice of TIDES courses; expanded campus health programs, including enhanced mental health services; changes in residential life that more deeply bond first-year students to the university; and increased outreach to underserved populations through the Posse and College Track programs.

Our Academic Collaborations Task Force also points us to a future of innovative research and graduate education. We will step up funding for the kind of research that crosses and combines academic disciplines, deploying resources in the years ahead through assistance from the BP settlement and RESTORE Act. By creating a cadre of new University Professorships who function across schools and fields, these initiatives will increase the already awe-inspiring power of our faculty in areas central to our educational program and to society. In our campus master planning, we are also envisioning how we can renovate and expand our physical spaces downtown and uptown to invite people to make connections both academically and socially. There is a lot more to tell on these and other subjects, including our innovative budget redesign, which I plan to do in future Views from Gibson.

Finally, since this is New Orleans, I would be remiss if I didn't end with a comment on food. Since, you can't study on an empty stomach, we also have added more choices to our dining services. Bruff received a summer makeover that includes a new pasta station, salad bar, soup station and fresh fish daily. This semester will also see the debut of Rouler, the nation's first New Orleans-style cuisine food truck designed solely for meal plan subscribers. Rouler will serve throughout Tulane, changing locations on a regular basis. I plan to spend some time researching these options myself.

Let's have a wonderful academic year!