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TUday & Tomorrow Debuts | Heroes & Helpers

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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Dear Tulane Community:

Welcome to TUday & Tomorrow, a new way for us to communicate. Through this platform, I will share updates, insights and important events in our community, as well as our future plans and aspirations.

So, where do we find ourselves TUday? Frankly, like so many people across our society, we are all a little worn out. Students have shared with me their disappointment in not being able to enjoy the full college experience they had always dreamed of and the loneliness of isolating or quarantining. Faculty tell me that preparing for classes now often requires much more effort with new challenges and other logistical issues. Staff are exhausted by countless Zoom meetings and additional workloads. They also long for the easy camaraderie of pre-COVID office life. All of us feel the strain of having to follow safety protocols and avoid the outsized, out loud crowds New Orleanians love so much.

I think we can all agree there have been brighter TUdays at Tulane — and throughout our world. Yet, despite these challenges – indeed, because of these challenges – I have never been prouder to be part of this community. We may be anxious, wearied and worried, but we are meeting the challenges of COVID-19 and finding new ways to continue our mission and our way of life. We are both dedicated to seeking a vaccine and to finding ways to promote safety on our campuses. Thanks to the commitment of students, faculty and staff, we are now more than halfway through a semester of in-person learning that many thought was impossible. Tulane has been a model for higher education on how to return to campus while protecting both the university community and city residents.

And where are we going tomorrow?

Even with all of the challenges of today, Tulane remains focused on the future. I recently joined Mayor LaToya Cantrell for a ribbon-cutting at the long-vacant Warwick Hotel, which will play a vital role in Tulane’s downtown expansion. When renovations are completed, the Warwick will be filled with apartments and retail space for graduate students, researchers, physicians and faculty.

On the uptown campus we will soon start construction on Steven and Jann Paul Hall, the new home for the School of Science and Engineering. Located between Stanley Thomas Hall and the Donna and Paul Flower Hall for Research and Innovation, Paul Hall’s classrooms, labs and collaborative spaces will form the core of a flourishing uptown science district. Another addition to the uptown campus is the Residential Learning Communities we are building where Bruff Commons formerly stood. These residences will be more than a place for students to sleep. They will foster cross-cultural friendships, social/academic interactions with faculty and other opportunities for the holistic growth and enrichment of our students.

Brighter tomorrows are certainly ahead for Tulane, but these transformative plans are not the only thing that gives me hope for the future. It is the many, many students who tell me that despite the challenges, pressures, disappointments and adjustments, they are glad to be back on campus.

They say they are grateful to the faculty and staff who are working so hard to ensure the continuation of their education and the best college experience possible under these seemingly impossible circumstances. They are truly thankful for every today and tomorrow at Tulane – and so am I. Thanks to each and every one of you who continue to make Tulane a leading university of innovation and scholarship. COVID will never break the Tulane spirit or keep us from carrying out our mission of learning, research and service for New Orleans and for the world.

P.S. One Tulanian with a special commitment to creating a better today and tomorrow is Christine LeGuizamo. With the debut of TUday & Tomorrow, we are also bringing back “Heroes & Helpers” to recognize Tulane's students, faculty, staff and alumni who are engaged in extraordinary efforts on behalf of others during the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, we honor Christine — read her story below.


 

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.

Christine LeGuizamo

Christine LeGuizamo

Christine LeGuizamo, a 2013 graduate of the Tulane School of Social Work, is recognized as a Hero & Helper for her tireless advocacy for high school students in New Orleans. LeGuizamo works as a social worker and site coordinator with Communities in Schools of the Gulf South, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting public schools with accessible, coordinated community resources. For many young students, attending in-person school allows for respite and relief from the challenges of everyday life. That support system was removed with the onset of COVID-19, and many students were experiencing worsening mental health due to increased financial, social and academic stress. LeGuizamo kept her lines of communication open, reaching out to her students and their families to offer telehealth support for those whose lives have been upended by the social restrictions put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Over the past seven months, LeGuizamo has found new avenues to connect her students to vital resources while they are temporarily disconnected from their larger sense of community. Beyond virtual and telehealth consultations, LeGuizamo has begun socially-distanced home visits to ensure her young students – particularly incoming ninth-graders – feel the critically important connection between home and school. Her genuine care and concern for her students provides a safety net for those who rely on services offered through their public schools. LeGuizamo is a community hero in the truest sense, ensuring New Orleans students and their families remain connected with their academic community. Read her story

 

Signature of Mike Fitts