Dear Tulane Community:
Welcome to the 2022 Spring semester! While the calendar has turned to a new academic session and year, we are still facing many of the same challenges we have confronted for longer than most of us care to recall. And yet, in true Tulane spirit, we are also hoping that brighter days are ahead with countless academic, research and social opportunities available to us. As we contemplate a post-pandemic world, we also have a chance to reimagine something greater and to create something better.
Looking out my office window today, I see many students, faculty and staff. I also see many trees. Our city and campuses are home to spectacular trees. There are other trees at Tulane, as well, with roots in research, public service and the free exchange of ideas. The branches of these trees stretch far beyond the borders of campus, giving back to the New Orleans community and to the wider world, addressing the problems of today and providing comfort and shade for the centuries ahead.
During these times, I have often thought of the lasting impact we all want to make, as well as the legacy we hope to leave behind. This hope is reflected in our mission statement: “to create, communicate and conserve knowledge in order to enrich the capacity of individuals, organizations and communities to think, to learn and to act and lead with integrity and wisdom.” But how do we ensure that this mission continues for generations to come? What anchors us, as an institution and as individuals? What are the core values that guide our work? What does it mean to be a Tulanian?
On many occasions, I have attempted to describe what Tulane is as an institution and what it aspires to be. The vocabulary list is extensive: Outward-looking. Relational. Creative. Interdisciplinary. Diverse. Curious. Inclusive. Innovative. Audacious. As we work to exemplify these characteristics and continue to make progress in enhancing the student experience, pioneering ground-breaking research, advancing diversity and other university-wide priorities, there has been a consistent conversation about the need to develop a set of core values that will serve as the foundation for a dynamic future and embody what our institution stands for.
It is in this spirit that we begin this semester with a community-wide effort to develop a defining statement of Tulane’s core values. Starting today, through Friday, Jan. 28, I invite you to share your suggestions for the core values that should be formally adopted to represent our great institution – here and now, and for generations to come. After we receive your suggestions, we will offer a period for public comment to allow all Tulanians to share their feedback regarding these principles. Your recommendations will be considered, and we will plan to announce our university’s core values later in the spring semester.
Defining and consciously living out our values will direct and enhance our growth. Through research, community, service and respect for differences, we can live true to ourselves – individually and institutionally. We can remake a world we’ll be proud to leave to those who come after us. The importance of shared values and a common purpose is one of the many lessons we learned from the pandemic and through our recovery from Hurricane Ida. Defining those shared values starts now, and it starts with you.