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Your New Semester

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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Dear Tulane Community:

There's nothing quite like the first day of class.

But if the inescapable excitement and anticipation of a brand new semester is not enough for you, we have a little lagniappe. In fact, we have a lot of lagniappe.

Just before the break, we launched Only the Audacious, The campaign for an ever bolder Tulane. We chose audacious as the theme for the campaign because it captures Tulane's unique and creative past while heralding our audacious future as we rise to become one of world’s most innovative universities. Through Only the Audacious we hope to raise $1.3 billion. But this is more than a fundraising effort. It is a bold endeavor to increase the diversity and quality of our student body, make more firsthand learning experiences available to our students, enhance our capacity to conduct pioneering research, grow our ability to recruit the most innovative faculty anywhere and build a physical environment that supports excellence in all of these areas.

While we have a long way to go before its successful completion, the benefits of Only the Audacious, which has raised more than $820 million so far, are already apparent. Next fall's incoming class is again shaping up to be one of the most diverse and academically qualified in Tulane's history. Our current students will begin attending classes in "environments of excellence," such as the newly completed $35 million Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex, today. By the fall, students will be able to access academic advising, career programming and other services dedicated to their success in the newly renovated and expanded Mussafer Hall, former home of the School of Social Work.

Preparatory work also continues for The Commons, a project that will transform the student experience at Tulane by providing a state-of-the-art dining facility and new home for the Newcomb College Institute. The three-story, 77,000-square-foot Commons will be connected at its second floor to the LBC, creating a social and academic hub in the heart of the uptown campus.

World-class faculty members like Walter Isaacson, the former Times-Picayune reporter who became chairman and CEO of CNN, managing editor of TIME, a best-selling author and leader of the Aspen Institute, are another early benefit of Only the Audacious. Walter will begin teaching his first classes in the history department this semester. And Tulane research, powered by support such as the recent $25 million gift from the family of Dr. John Winton Deming, will continue to save lives around the world.

While we are attracting the best students and enhancing our world-class research mission, our facilities and our faculty, we will also expand Tulane’s role in conversations that affect the world and society as a whole. Last semester, we started a serious discussion about the public health consequences of binge drinking and substance abuse in our campus community. As a leading medical academic institution, we know firsthand the personal and societal costs of alcohol and substance abuse. We've also been deeply engaged in the national conversation about sexual misconduct throughout all segments of our society and within the Tulane community. While both of these issues present clear challenges, they also offer our academic community vast opportunities. We will seize this chance to become a national leader on these issues for both the safety of our students and the betterment of our culture and society.

I will share more information on these and other issues in the weeks to come. In the meantime, enjoy your first day of class and the beginning of a new semester of change, discovery and transformation.

Signature of Mike Fitts