Dear Tulane Community:
At this time last week, we had embarked on a four-day celebration of one of the most remarkable and resilient classes in Tulane's history. Our salute to graduates included the words of civil rights icon Ruby Bridges and musical performances by Dr. Michael White's Original Liberty Jazz Band, Yolanda Windsay and Galactic. It included the pride of families and friends from throughout the country and the pure joy of the graduates themselves. It offered an unforgettable testament to not only what the Class of 2021 had achieved, but what they had overcome and how eager they were to celebrate together. In fact, more graduating students participated in Commencement ceremonies this year than any other year in the history of Tulane!
As in the year that preceded it, Commencement Week was filled with challenges of its own, ranging from the weather to the logistical hurdles of hosting 10 individual school ceremonies and a Unified Commencement while adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols. Once again, the Tulane community stood strong and met these difficulties head on - virtually, in person and in hybrid fashion, we sent our graduates, in true New Orleans style, off into the world to create positive and lasting change.
Commencement also marked the culmination of a trying, but ultimately triumphant, year for all of us. Thanks to the incredible dedication and commitment of our faculty, students and staff, we completed an academic year of in-person learning, research and work while helping to protect our community and neighbors during the worst public health crisis in a century. We conducted nearly half a million COVID-19 tests, administered thousands of vaccines and enforced strict safety protocols on and off campus. Along the way we faced the threat of seven hurricanes, with one direct hit. We also joined a nationwide reckoning on race, contended with uncertain economic times and completed a crash course on online learning and remote work. In spite of all these challenges, we were able to accelerate the initiatives that will help build our future, including construction of a new undergraduate residential quad, a new home for the School of Science and Engineering and expansion of our downtown research campus.
Together, we completed what many said could not be done. Now we find ourselves on the cusp of another summer. The months ahead will be unusually busy as we continue online summer classes, research, construction and other operations while preparing for the fall semester. Still, I hope that each of you can find some time to take a break from the incredible pace we have all been keeping over the last year and enjoy some of the new freedom available to those who are fully vaccinated. TUday & Tomorrow will take a summer break too, but I will be sure to be in touch with messaging regarding our continued vaccination efforts, our operations for the fall and our exciting plans for the future. In light of this unprecedented year, let me end with a hearty and enthusiastic "Roll Wave" to all of you. You have earned it!