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A Week for Peace and Change

Friday, January 15, 2016

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Dear Tulane Community:

Ensuring that Tulane is accessible, supportive and welcoming to all qualified students regardless of their racial or ethnic background or their family's income is one of the university's most urgent priorities. Tulane's efforts in this area go back a number of years and include initiatives such as the Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Task Force and the recent Task Force on the Undergraduate Experience.

The latest step in the process will take place next week as we host the first Presidential Town Hall Meeting on Racial Issues at Tulane at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 19 in the Kendall Cram Lecture Hall on the second floor of the LBC. The Town Hall meeting will be moderated by Gwen Thompkins, a Tulane graduate, NPR veteran reporter and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out. The Town Hall is the next stage of a conversation that began at the Call for Unity in November. At the Town Hall I will introduce the members of the newly established Commission on Race and Tulane Values. More than a Task Force, this is a permanent body of students, faculty and administrative leaders charged with bringing about real change and progress on race and other issues related to inclusivity. The Commission will be co-chaired by Associate Provost Michael Cunningham and Chief of Staff Tania Tetlow.

The commission's first task will be to find ways to increase the racial diversity of our student body, staff and faculty while making Tulane a more welcoming and supportive home for students from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities. Part of this effort includes addressing the changes students sought at the Call for Unity. I also want to hear from you. Please send me the issues and concerns on race and diversity that you would like addressed during the Town Hall meeting. Your input will make the Town Hall meeting a true dialogue that results in action, not mere promises.

Next week we will also join Xavier, Loyola and the University of New Orleans to mark the 30th annual Week for Peace, honoring the legacy and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tulane will officially kick off the Week for Peace Jan. 20 by hosting the annual Convocation, featuring a keynote address by social activist, hip-hop artist and blogger Kwame Rose. For information on all Week for Peace activities, please visit https://www.facebook.com/MlkWeek4Peace/?fref=ts.

The Town Hall Meeting and Week for Peace provide crucial moments for the Tulane community to gather, to reflect, to speak, to learn and to act. This is the essential mission of Tulane and every true academic institution. As Dr. King said, "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education."

Signature of Mike Fitts