August 18, 2023
Dear Tulane Community:
The dynamic educational and research landscape of recent years is being reshaped by the rapid progress of artificial intelligence (AI). We write today to update you on the proactive steps Tulane is taking to harness the exciting promise AI holds to advance our institutional mission and the lives of the members of the Tulane community.
From pioneering research to transformative teaching to effective administration, AI has the power to accelerate positive change in higher education. It can multiply academic potential and accelerate research productivity — with the promise of improving and even saving lives. Tulane’s unprecedented momentum can be driven even further forward with AI as a tool. We understand that rapid change can be a source of anxiety and disruption, but as a major research university, Tulane is positioned to leverage new innovations in ways that benefit us all.
Over the summer, we took a deep dive into crafting our approach to AI. As a next step, we are creating cross-campus working groups to examine how AI should be applied across disciplines and contexts. We call upon every member of the Tulane community – students, faculty and staff – to actively engage as we thoughtfully integrate AI into our work. AI will not replace us, but it will change the way we teach, learn, research, and pursue careers. By tapping into the Tulane community’s renowned creativity and problem-solving acumen, our goal is to navigate, collaboratively and effectively, this uncharted territory.
Tulane is actively investing considerable resources into building an infrastructure that supports our work with AI. Data-intensive discovery has become a fundamental method of inquiry in every academic discipline. The newly established Connolly Alexander Institute for Data Science will position Tulane as a leader in data research and pedagogy, enabling students across all disciplines to understand and use data in their studies and ensuring they are well prepared for the careers of the future, while also providing resources for faculty and staff to develop and hone their data literacy and analysis skills. Additional initiatives include the Center for Community-Engaged Artificial Intelligence and the Jurist Center for Artificial Intelligence, both launched earlier this year.
In the coming months, we will be working together to explore how artificial intelligence can better support our research and teaching missions. This includes how we support our students and faculty, enhance our pedagogy and provide more effective feedback to students. It also encompasses how we prepare documentation and proposals and how we access and organize data and other scholarly materials. In addition, Tulane is investing in across-the-board upgrades to its information systems – from grants management to support the explosive growth in research, to new systems that will dramatically change the way we manage the business and operations of the university, with more automation and self-service, enhanced workflow, increased speed and quality of information, and AI-infused functionality.
Bill Gates, in his interview with Walter Isaacson at the 2023 New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University, noted that the rapidly expanding field of AI offers “a rare moment when something is changing very dramatically.” Tulane is ready to meet this moment by applying this revolutionary new technology to advance all the efforts we undertake “not for oneself, but for one’s own.”
Michael A. Fitts, President
Robin Forman, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Patrick Norton, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer