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A Successful Semester | Heroes & Helpers

Thursday, November 19, 2020



Dear Tulane Community:

Finally, something to celebrate ­­– we did it! Next Tuesday is the last day of classes for the fall. Despite the difficulties, sacrifices and setbacks, we have successfully completed an in-person, on-ground semester during one of the most challenging periods of the last century. This is an accomplishment of which we should all be proud.

Credit for this semester’s success goes to our students, faculty and staff. The vast majority of our students confirmed the faith we had that they would take the steps and make the sacrifices necessary to help protect themselves and others as we returned to campus. Our faculty found innovative and creative ways to present hybrid instruction and deliver a robust teaching experience while continuing their important and impactful research, including work involving COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Our staff provided the foundation for this successful semester by planning, constructing and communicating everything from testing protocols to temporary structures. So many students, faculty and staff spent countless hours and overcame numerous obstacles to make this semester happen.

In building the framework for in-person learning this semester, we learned many lessons ourselves, which will inform our plans for the spring semester as we intend to continue in-person teaching, learning and living. Our work for next semester is already well underway. Spring has always been a season of hope and renewal. Though there will still be challenges, with an effective COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, we can all hope for better days ahead.

In the meantime, I want to wish our students the best as they approach their final exams and to extend my heartfelt gratitude and admiration to every member of our university family. I am so proud to be part of such a resilient, creative and courageous community. Together, we are truly an unbeatable team.

P.S. Two Heroes and Helpers who went to extraordinary lengths to make this semester a success were Dr. Kendra Harris and Dr. Anjali Niyogi. Read below about their efforts to provide support and relief to frontline health workers during the pandemic.


Heroes & Helpers

"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. Kendra Harris

Dr. Kendra Harris

Dr. Kendra Harris found a silver lining in the coronavirus pandemic that has so greatly affected New Orleans. In mid-March, when the first COVID-19 case was recorded at Tulane hospital, Harris, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the School of Medicine, wanted to give support to residents and other frontline healthcare workers, including nurses, custodians and registrars.

Under the leadership of School of Medicine Dean Lee Hamm, Harris partnered with university administrators to establish the Tulane Frontline Providers Fund: Green Wave Heroes. Since the fund began in April, generous donors have contributed almost $700,000 to assist with child-care services, nutritious meals and other support for Tulane healthcare workers on the front lines.

The donations served double duty, supporting local restaurants who were struggling due to the pandemic.

Dr. Anjali Niyogi

Dr. Anjali Niyogi

Dr. Anjali Niyogi, associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics and holder of the Kylene and Brad Beers Professorship of Social Entrepreneurship, developed Letters from the Porch: New Orleans Serenades its Medical Community, featuring a series of front porch performances by area musicians and poets. The performances, which can still be viewed online, were filmed starting in March to say thank you to doctors, nurses, residents, technicians, housekeeping, food services and other staff working long hours at area hospitals during the pandemic. Funding for the project began through Niyogi’s professorship in The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking; it then received substantial additional funding through Xylem Corporation.
The project team includes Dr. Niyogi and Dr. Harris as executive producers, as well as Jebney Lewis, free feral, Jinx Holliday, Holden Mauk, Zac Manuel, Marrion Hill and Zuri Obi.

Signature of Mike Fitts