Messages from the President – August 2005

August 31, 6 p.m.

Things continue to be unstable in New Orleans, although there is hope that we have experienced the worst. We continue to put the safety of students and employees first. We are working around the clock to bring continuity to the university and to re-establish our presence, however much of this is dependent on the city of New Orleans and Mother Nature. One of our greatest frustrations is our inability to communicate with our larger community due to the failure of all utilities, including e-mail and cell phones. Over the next few days we will have a better handle on the timeline for our recovery. In the meantime, nearly all of our students have been relocated to their home communities or other safe locations under our supervision. All of our residence halls are secure and the contents appear intact. I know all of our students are anxious about our re-opening date; again, in the next few days we will be able to speak more confidently about a start date for the fall semester.

The faculty, staff and students of Tulane University, especially in our medical and public health schools, have proven to be an extraordinary group who have not only conducted themselves with patience and decorum but have reached out to others in acts of exemplary valor in situations small and large.

Tulane University is a great institution with loyal students, faculty, staff and alumni. We will recover from this event and be stronger because of it. I will be in touch as we know more and the situation develops.

Scott S. Cowen

August 30, 7:30 p.m.

Dear Friends of Tulane:

I know you are all concerned about conditions in New Orleans and at Tulane University, and have many questions about what is going to happen in the next few days, weeks and months.

Our first priority during this time is the safety of our faculty, staff and students. Thankfully, everyone associated with the university is safe, including those of us who remain at Tulane.

Our second priority is to secure our facilities. As expected, our facilities have been damaged; however, based on our preliminary assessments, the majority of the damage can be remediated in a reasonable period of time. The uptown campus is covered with debris from fallen trees and shrubs, making it almost impossible to drive or even walk on campus. We have no power in any of the buildings other than a few where we control the power source.

Our third priority is to develop a recovery plan. This task is impaired right now by the devastation of the city and its infrastructure, and deteriorating further due to the flooding we are now facing. In addition, we don’t know when our employees will be able to return to the city, much less to the university. Therefore, until conditions stabilize, it is impossible to do any longer term recovery planning. However, part of the responsibility of the senior leadership team in Jackson, MS is to begin the planning and they have done so.

As I suspect you all know, there is no contingency plan that could ever be developed to respond to what the area and the university are experiencing. However, all of us at the university are totally committed to doing whatever it takes to get the university operational as soon as possible. I hope you will be patient and understanding of our situation as we work our way through the complexities.

It is difficult to describe what this situation feels like for those involved. It is surreal and unfathomable; yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our focus is on the light and not the darkness.

Scott S. Cowen

August 30, 6:15 p.m.

Special Information for Students Evacuated to Jackson and Their Parents:
The approximately 400 students that Tulane University evacuated to Jackson State University are safe and secure after the remnants of Hurricane Katrina struck the city of Jackson.

Jackson State has committed to sheltering and feeding all of the evacuated Tulane students for as long as necessary. The students are in very safe quarters and are accompanied by senior officers of the university.

The situation in the city of Jackson is that there is a power outage and Internet service is erratic. The airport is closed but is expected to reopen within 24-48 hours and other modes of transportation will also resume in that timeframe.

Once those services are operational we are recommending that all Tulane students at Jackson State make plans to return home until the university can resume normal operations.

Tulane has arranged bus service to Dallas and Atlanta so that students can make travel arrangements from other cities if they choose. The buses will depart Jackson, MS at 8 p.m. CST tonight. Students sent to Atlanta will be hosted by Georgia Tech; students sent to Dallas will be hosted by Southern Methodist University.

August 30, 11:45 a.m.

Dear Tulane Faculty, Staff, Students and Friends:

As you all know by now, New Orleans and the surrounding parishes were severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The physical damage to the area, including Tulane’s campuses, was extensive.

Unfortunately, conditions in the city continue to deteriorate, making it virtually impossible to begin recovery efforts. On a very positive note, in Tulane’s case, we are very thankful that all of our people are safe, including all the students and staff who evacuated to Jackson, Mississippi.

We have started the process of assessing the condition of our campus facilities and determining how long it will take us to reopen. This assessment process will take days because many of the answers will be determined by how quickly the city and its services become operational. The situation is further complicated by the fact that there is no power in the city, water levels continue to rise, all city roads are blocked, and the vast majority of our workforce had to leave the parish as part of the mandatory evacuation order. It is unclear at this time when people will be allowed to return to the city.

Given the uncertainties, we cannot determine at this time when employees and students should return to campus. We will do the best we can to keep you appraised of our situation and progress.

Also, I want to remind you that the university’s main website is not operating at this time and we do not know when we will be able to bring it back on-line. Due to this, the Tulane email system is not functioning. However, this website ( will continue to have the most up-to-date information about university operations and the Tulane Alert Line at 1-877-862-8080 and 1-504-862-8080 will also have the most current information available. These communication vehicles are the best source of information about Tulane since phone and cell service are unreliable.

I realize that you have many more questions than we have answers at this time. However, I’m sure you understand the complexity and difficulty of the situation we face. Nonetheless, we are determined to move forward as quickly as possible and make Tulane University an even stronger and healthier institution. We have been in New Orleans for 171 years and we look forward to another century in this great city.

Scott S. Cowen

August 29, 1 p.m.

The worst of Hurricane Katrina has now passed through New Orleans and we will shortly begin the process of assessing the condition of our campuses.

The emergency team located on the uptown campus has been in frequent contact with the university’s team at Jackson State University. The approximately 400 students who are located there and are accompanied by university officials, are doing well and are safe.

Anyone seeking information about these students may call (601) 979-1964.

In the next 24 hours we expect to finalize our plans regarding the resumption of university operations.

As previously announced, classes will begin no earlier than Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Employees, students and parents should continue to regularly monitor this website and the Alert Line— 1-877-862-8080 or 1-504-862-8080.

As of this date the university’s main website and the university’s email system are not in operation and are not expected to be functional for another 24-48 hours.

August 28, 3 p.m.

The date for university employees to report to work will be determined after the storm passes.

In light of the projected severity of Hurricane Katrina, we have decided classes at Tulane University will not resume until Wednesday, September 7.

Residence halls
The date and time for the reopening of the residence halls will be determined after an initial assessment of university facilities after the storm. That information will be posted on this site – – as soon as possible.

Please continue to monitor the Alert Line at 1-877-862-8080 and 1-504-862-8080 or visit for updated info. This is the only TU website that will work for the next few days.

August 28, 2005 – 11:30 a.m.

To the University Community:

Tulane continues to prepare for Hurricane Katrina. One step in the process is that we will shut down our email system as of noon today. This will protect the equipment and allow restoration as early as possible.

At this time we do not know when the system will be back in operation. As soon as the email system is back in service, it will be noted on Tulane’s emergency website which is housed off-campus and which will remain in continuous operation. The emergency site is:

Please continue to monitor the emergency website for the
most up-to-date information.

Another source of information is the Tulane Alert Line, which can be reached at 1-877-862-8080 and 1-504-862-8080.

At this time there is only a handful of people left on campus and we will make every effort to keep in communication with you. So please be patient if you don’t hear regular updates.

Stay safe.

Scott S. Cowen

August 27, 2005 – 6 p.m.

The university is now closed due to the approach of Hurricane Katrina. University operations are expected to resume on Wednesday, August 31 and faculty and staff will return to work on that date. Students please note that classes will resume on Thursday, September 1.

Essential employees should remain in contact with their supervisors for their work schedules.

The university initiated its residential student evacuation plan this afternoon and is transporting those students remaining on campus to Jackson State University. There will be a final opportunity for students to be transported to Jackson State tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Buses will leave from the Reily Center.

For the most up-to-date Tulane information, please continue to call the Alert Line at 1-877-862-8080 or 1-504-862-8080 and to monitor this website.

Our next update will be at 11 a.m. on Sunday, August 28.

August 27, 2005 – noon

Residence Halls
Residence Halls are tentatively scheduled to reopen at noon on Wednesday, August 31.

Reily Center
The Reily Recreation Center will be closed at 5 p.m. until further notice.
The next update will be posted at 6 p.m. on August 27.

August 27, 2005 – 10 a.m.

Message regarding university closure

In response to Hurricane Katrina’s shift to the west, Tulane University will close as of 5 p.m. today, August 27. Classes will resume on Thursday, September 1. Tulane employees should report to work on Wednesday, August 31. Essential employees should contact their supervisors immediately regarding their work schedule.

New students arriving on campus for Orientation today should refer to this website for special instructions.

Everyone should begin implementing their personal hurricane plan now.

For the most up-to-date information, please continue to monitor the Alert Line
504.862-8080 or, toll-free, 1.877.862.8080 or this website.

Message regarding move-in and orientation

In the last 12 hours Hurricane Katrina has made a dramatic shift to the west with landfall likely in southeast Louisiana Monday afternoon or evening. Based on this information, the university has decided on the following:

1. There will be a special Town Hall meeting at 1 p.m. today at McAlister Auditorium for parents and students who are on campus. President Cowen will discuss the university’s preparation for Hurricane Katrina.
2. At 5 p.m. today classes will be cancelled until Thursday, Sept. 1.
3. All orientation activities after the Town Hall meeting at 1 p.m. are cancelled.
4. New first-year students who are arriving on campus today should make plans to leave campus as soon as possible.
• If you can leave with your parents today, do so.
• If you have friends or relatives with whom you can seek shelter, do so now.
• Students who are unable to leave New Orleans should contact their Resident Assistant immediately for university assistance.
5. No students will be allowed to occupy residence halls after 6 p.m. today.
6. For the most up-to-date information on university operations, students and parents are urged to regularly monitor this website or the Tulane Alert Line at
1-877-862-8080 or 1-504-862-8080.

AT: 1-504-865-5180.

August 26, 2005 – 3:30 p.m.

We are currently monitoring Hurricane Katrina. At this time Tulane University is operating under normal conditions. Please continue to check this website and the Tulane Alert Line 504-862-8080 or, toll-free, 1-877-862-8080 for continued updates. The next update will be posted at 10 a.m. on August 27.