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A Special View from Gibson

Friday, November 13, 2015

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Dear Tulane Community:

With the start of the new semester I am energized and excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for our great university. Tulane is well positioned to excel in a rapidly changing educational landscape and I can't wait to take advantage of the opportunities to come.

Our student body, both in numbers and academic quality, gets stronger each year. Our faculty continues to build bridges across schools to work together on society's greatest problems—from Ebola to cancer to cleaning up the environment. Our staff is second to none, as they demonstrate every day. And we all have the privilege of working in one of the world's greatest cities.

In order to build on all of this positive momentum and to continue the effort to enhance our financial position started in prior years by Scott Cowen, we have retained the Huron Education consulting firm to identify ways we can improve our efficiency and effectiveness and increase revenues. The goals of this initiative are twofold: to solidify our financial position by eliminating our annual operating cash deficit of $15-20 million; and to develop a new budgeting system that is better suited for our future plans.

The decision to review our finances underscores our commitment to being good stewards of the university's resources and ensures that we are using them wisely. In fact, we were pleased to hear at the end of last week that Moody's Investors Service, which reviews and rates the financial health of all universities, has revised our outlook from negative to stable. This confirms that, as a whole, Tulane's long term financial future is bright.

I have appointed two internal steering committees to help guide this process and integrate recommendations into positive change for Tulane. The Operational Review steering committee is co-chaired by Anne Baños, chief of staff and vice president for Administrative Services, and Tony Lorino, senior vice president for Operations and chief financial officer. The Budget Review steering committee is co-chaired by Yvette Jones, executive vice president for University Relations and Development, and Michael Bernstein, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost. Both committees include faculty and staff.

As part of the review, we have established a website that will be a comprehensive repository of information as the process moves forward. We will provide you with a timeline, establish multiple channels for gathering campus feedback (including interviews with 150 faculty and staff), and, as the work progresses, share findings and recommendations about our assessments.

We will direct this project, in coordination with Huron, with the fundamental goal of being highly collaborative and seeking input from across the campuses. We will be transparent through each step of the process, vetting recommendations with the stakeholders in the Tulane community.

The next few months will require patience, the willingness to embrace the possibility of change and the belief that Tulane will be stronger and better than ever. I am committed to this undertaking and I am looking forward to working with all of you as we bring the process to a productive and positive conclusion.

Signature of Mike Fitts