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A New Academic Year!

Monday, August 29, 2016

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Dear Tulane Community,

Invigorating! Energizing! Extraordinary! These are just some of the superlatives that come to mind as I welcome all of you to the start of a new academic year.

Seeing our entering class, sensing their collective hopes and dreams, feeling their energy and knowing their passion for Tulane is an experience like no other. Not only has this year's incoming class shattered all expectations by its sheer number, it is also the most academically qualified and selective Tulane class ever! Given the amazing and incredibly accomplished classes that preceded them, this is saying quite a lot.

That so many of the country's top students have chosen to be part of Tulane when other universities nationwide have been struggling with enrollment comes as no surprise to me. I believe this is a direct result of the academic excellence of our programs, the commitment we have made to contribute to the city of New Orleans and to our region (especially as many recover from the Great Flood of 2016) and the dedication of our faculty to educate the next generation of leaders.

There is no doubt that 2016-17 will be an academic year of incredible synergy, interdisciplinary collaboration, scholarly partnerships and genuine friendships connecting our newest Tulanians to one another and to those who have come before them. Joining together with our faculty, whose research and scholarship is making a true difference in the lives of others, giving back to New Orleans and our surrounding parishes and acquiring purpose, knowledge and lifelong skills in doing so – this is the essence of the Tulane experience! It is an essence that was reborn in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, whose floodwaters inundated our city 11 years ago today and whose memory drives us to help others as we were once helped.

Besides the incoming class, I also want to welcome other newcomers to Tulane. Satyajit Dattagupta, vice president of enrollment management, whose special focus will be increasing our growing, but still inadequate, level of racial diversity; Suri Duitch, dean of the School of Continuing Studies and vice president of academic innovation; Patrick Bordnick, dean of the School of Social Work; Patrick Norton, senior vice president and chief operating officer; and Travis Jewett, head baseball coach, all began their careers at Tulane this summer. Robin Forman, who most recently served as dean of arts and sciences at Emory and was dean of undergraduates at Rice prior to that, will start this week as our new senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. These new leaders bring their own fresh perspective, vision and deep commitment to Tulane and will ensure that the Green Wave truly continues to roll.

In addition to new students and senior leaders, we broke ground this summer on the expansion of the A.B. Freeman School of Business, Mussafer Hall and numerous other construction projects while also introducing a host of academic and social initiatives for 2016-17. In next week's message I will share details on these initiatives which, combined with our returning students, our entering class, our evolving leadership team and our dedicated community of scholars and researchers, will fuel a year of unbounded potential and possibilities.

Tulane has a long history as a leading institution of learning and research. This year will add to that legacy and demonstrate, once again, our commitment to education and discovery that unites the disparate fields of human knowledge for the good of all.

I can't wait to get started.

Signature of Mike Fitts