Dear Tulane Community:
With final exams now over, we have officially and successfully ended one of the most challenging semesters in Tulane's history.
It took everyone from all schools, departments, centers, offices and segments of Tulane to achieve what many said was impossible. In a span of nine months we depopulated our campus, transformed it physically with temporary classrooms and dining spaces, enacted a host of safety protocols, instituted one of the country's leading testing, tracing, quarantine/isolation programs and returned to campus for a semester of in-person teaching, researching and working. Along the way, we were also confronted with multiple hurricane threats and a direct hit from Zeta.
In the face of these enormous challenges, we did not simply resume our operations as they were prior to COVID-19. We adapted and innovated. We discovered new ways to use technology to improve classroom instruction. We enhanced our research efforts to focus on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. In all of our efforts, we performed at an amazingly high level. We were not just resilient; we were groundbreaking and creative.
Our achievements in 2020 are truly the mark of a great university. And great universities don't just happen. They don't spontaneously arise and achieve a critical mass that creates perpetual excellence. Great universities are purpose-driven and intentional. They are also people-driven – advanced by the daily, sustained effort of exceptionally dedicated individuals.
Last month, I asked you to nominate deserving university employees or teams for the President's Excellence Awards. These awards recognize members of the Tulane community who are integral to the work we do and the difference we make in our city and the world. Typically, I present President's Excellence Awards to 10 individuals and two teams or departments. But this year has been far from typical, and I wanted to recognize the many, many people who worked tirelessly and made tremendous contributions to our success in the midst of these difficult and unprecedented times. So, in recognition of all the extraordinarily hard work and sacrifice, I am awarding more than 60 individuals and 24 departmental teams President's Excellence Awards.
This year's recipients represent Tulanians throughout our campuses, your co-workers, colleagues and friends who have gone above and beyond in their commitment to Tulane and its mission. You can view a special video announcing this year's winners here.
Bestowing these awards is one of my greatest joys as president. They represent the immense gratitude and appreciation I feel for our staff and faculty who, along with our students, are the bedrock, the heart and soul of this institution. Our research, scholarship and the positive change we make in the lives of students and in communities throughout the world are empowered by the dedication, expertise and hard work of our campus family. They are the definition of true excellence.
P.S. Throughout this ongoing pandemic, the healthcare professionals who have treated COVID-19 patients have become the heroes of our day. This week's "Heroes and Helpers" focuses on one of these amazing individuals. Read his inspiring story below.
"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.
Dr. Prateek “Raj” Adhikari
Dr. Prateek “Raj” Adhikari oversees the emergency departments at Tulane Medical Center and Tulane Lakeside Hospital. When COVID-19 became a reality in Greater New Orleans, not only did Adhikari lead his frontline physicians and other staff in treating patients, but he also led efforts to educate staff about personal protective equipment, and talked with local media about COVID safety – including a public service announcement that he recorded for social media.
Adhikari, who also has an undergraduate degree from Tulane University, has been with Tulane ER since 2006 and has served as medical director since 2007. His presence is of tremendous value to the university’s Student Affairs staff, who rely on him for the safety of the students who need emergency medical care, especially throughout the pandemic. Read his story here.