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New Year, New Era

Friday, January 20, 2017

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Dear Tulane Community,

I hope all of you had a joyful and relaxing holiday break and are looking forward to a prosperous 2017. I want to take this moment to tell you how well Tulane is doing, and our plans for moving forward.

There is much to be excited about. Interest in Tulane has risen to an all-time high, as we are fast becoming the first-choice school of the country's best students. Each of the last two years, we have seen double-digit leaps in applications, as well as significant increases in average SATs. We have jumped in the U.S. News rankings from 54 to 39 and have seen many of our programs receive national recognition, including neuroscience, architecture and service learning. We are investing in our academic buildings, expanding the fast-growing business school and creating Mussafer Hall, a new home for career and academic advising to work closely together with students to plan their futures.

Our faculty continues to tackle the problems of the world, from finding the origins of humankind in a cave in South Africa to working on a vaccine for Ebola. Our pioneering researchers were awarded a 35 percent increase in grant funding last year. We have also put together a senior leadership team composed of the top thought leaders in higher education, who are infusing the university with new ideas, new energy and new direction. I am also happy to announce that by next year, we will have balanced Tulane's budget. Through much hard work by the university community, we have begun the steps necessary to ensure Tulane's long-term strong financial footing.

Now, the question is, what do we do with all these successes?

For starters, our improved financial position will allow us more flexibility to invest in Tulane's most cherished assets – its students, faculty and staff. We will be able to offer more scholarships to attract a more qualified and diverse student body. We will keep working to get to the point where we can offer more meaningful wage increases to faculty and staff. We want to modernize our classrooms and invest in our laboratories.

We will continue to invest in our world-class faculty (which already includes such luminaries as National Academy of Medicine member Maureen Litchtveld) in their work to improve the human condition. From broadening our understanding of society through the humanities to saving lives through public health, Tulane continues to change the world.

Finally, we will continue to collaborate across disciplines and specialties, deepening our commitment to bring the best minds from the greatest array of fields to bear on society's most pressing needs – improving the world not for ourselves, but for our own.

Signature of Mike Fitts