Dear Tulane Community:
On Saturday, we accomplished something that, just a few months ago, I would have said was virtually impossible.
While physically apart and scattered around the country and world, we were able to come together to honor the Class of 2020 with great New Orleans music, celebrity shout-outs, inspiring student speeches and the unmistakable joy that makes you know you are part of an extraordinary university and city.
If you missed this special conferral of degrees and recognition ceremony, which featured appearances by Ellen DeGeneres, Madeleine Albright, Drew Brees, Hoda Kotb, Kelly Ripa, Apple CEO Tim Cook and numerous others, you can view all the fun and memorable moments here.
Saturday’s celebration, which we dubbed "TUgether – Connecting the Class of 2020," was the capstone of a semester that was unprecedented, unforgettable and more than a little unnerving at times. But, ultimately, it was a successful semester and worth all the effort it took by our students, faculty and staff to make it happen. This includes not only the Herculean work of depopulating the uptown campus and transitioning to online education and operations, but also the heroic mission of our healthcare professionals who are caring for COVID and non-COVID patients. It also encompasses the relentless pursuit by our researchers for new tests, treatments and a vaccine.
Normally, summer is a slower period in the life of a university, but these next few months will be a continuation of the “all hands on deck” commitment the entire Tulane community is making to ensure the safe return of on-ground classes and operations in the fall. In the coming weeks and months, you will receive more specific details on the timelines and protocol for our return to campus. We will also explain the precautions, social distancing, rescheduling and other adjustments needed to ensure that our return, first and foremost, protects the health of all.
COVID-19 was unable to stop us from successfully completing the spring semester and honoring our graduates in true Tulane style. Through the careful, collaborative efforts of the Tulane community and the collective wisdom of leaders among students, faculty and staff, we are busy laying the groundwork to ensure that COVID-19 will not stop us from returning to campus. Public safety is our No. 1 priority. Home is our destination.
But before we embark on the busy summer ahead, we will pause for the observance of Memorial Day in honor of those veterans, including many Tulane alumni, who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety and freedom of our home.
P.S. One of the many highlights of "TUgether – Connecting the Class of 2020" was the opportunity to recognize some of the Heroes and Helpers in the Class of 2020. Among these were Michael Antoine, a SoPA graduate and deputy director of the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, and the Tulane Emergency Medical (TEMS) service group, led by 17 graduating seniors. Read below how these Heroes and Helpers are protecting our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Heroes & Helpers" recognizes a person or team, among Tulane's students, faculty, staff and alumni, engaged in extraordinary efforts on behalf of others in the battle against the major health crisis of our time.
Michael Antoine is passionate about helping others, and he has been doing just that for more than 18 years as part of the public safety team for the city of New Orleans. But never did he imagine having a year like this one. Sandwiched between Mardi Gras and the June 1 start of hurricane season – two of the busiest, most hectic times of year – was the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which hit New Orleans especially hard. Read his story
Tulane Emergency Medical Service (TEMS)
They came to Tulane University from an array of backgrounds and interests, forming a family of sorts through their love of helping others. But it wasn’t their dorm floors, club memberships or study groups that led to that close-knit bond. As they were navigating their way through freshman year, some wondering if they would ever fit into college life, they heard about a group called TEMS — Tulane Emergency Medical Service — and knew they had found the group that would change their lives. Read their story