October 4, 2013
Green hair dye? Check. Green shoes? Check. Game tickets? Check. Microphone? Check. Rain Slicker?
I’m just making sure I am all ready for the excitement of Homecoming and Family Weekend. I have also, along with senior administrators, been monitoring Tropical Storm Karen and how it might affect our Homecoming activities. Weather permitting, things will really get hopping today with carnival rides, food trucks and live music on the LBC Quad beginning at 3 p.m. The party will continue tonight with the 12th Annual Helluva Hullabaloo Auction and the All Alumni Reunion Party that will feature fireworks, more carnival rides and music by Deacon John and the Ivories. In case of rain, the evening concert and pep rally will take place inside the LBC rather than on the Quad.
There are numerous other receptions, lectures, art exhibitions, reunions and more special events taking place this weekend. You can view the full http online. Of course, all of this leads up to the big game against North Texas on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Pre-game tailgating activities, including music by Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys, will take place http the Dome. Our final Homecoming game in the Superdome has the Green Wave off to its best start in a decade. Come out and cheer our boys on to another victory in what is shaping up to be a special season.
Many thanks to all of you who sent me questions for this morning’s Town Hall Meeting, which takes place from 10:30 to 11:30 in Dixon Hall. I will address these questions as well as those from the live audience and give an update on the university’s finances, operations and strategic plans. If you can’t make it to Dixon, we will also be http blogging from the Town Hall.
I am looking forward to spending as much time as I can this weekend with all the parents and alumni who are in town, as well as our students, staff and faculty. Roll Wave! Go away, Karen.
Have a great Homecoming Weekend,
September 27, 2013
A chance to live for a week in a French villa, attend the World Series and visit the set of “Downton Abbey?” This can mean only one thing – the Helluva Hullabaloo Auction and Party, Oct. 4 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the Lavin-Bernick Center. The Hullabaloo Auction and Party is not only your opportunity to bid on these and other great items, it is also a helluva good time that benefits our student-athletes and the Tulane Empowers program. If you can’t make or wait for the auction, you can start http online now.
The Hullabaloo Auction and Party is one of my favorite events of the year. But with all of the wonderful, one-of-a-kind items available, things can sometimes get a little confusing, as this video shows:
September 20, 2013
I recently saw a bumper sticker that proclaimed: “I’m retired, don’t ask me anything.” Well, I can assure you that I am not retired yet and really want you to ask me anything and everything you can about Tulane in preparation for my annual Town Hall Meeting. The Town Hall Meeting will take place Friday, Oct. 4, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. in Dixon Hall. Please email me your questions on academics, athletics, finances, facilities, research – you name it. I will address these questions and those from the audience.
We will also be live blogging from the http Hall. So follow online if you can’t make it to Dixon Hall. In my 16 years as president, the Town Hall has been one of my favorite events. I have been honored by the large turnout and challenged (but not yet stumped!) by the many questions. Your queries always reflect how much you cherish our university’s past and care about its future.
The Town Hall is also part of http and Family Weekend, one of my favorite times of year. You can learn all about the food, concerts, fireworks, reunions, exhibitions, lectures, the big game and everything that makes Homecoming special on the website.
Have a great weekend (and don’t forget your questions),
September 13, 2013
The people I have worked for and with during the last 16 years – the students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends of Tulane University – never cease to amaze me.
When most presidents announce their plans to retire, they are met with good wishes (or riddances) and gestures of kindness. Who else but the wonderful community of Tulane pledges more than 750,000 hours of service as a send-off?
Yet, that is exactly what the most grateful university president in the world received when I was told about the http Service Challenge. Through this program, students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university will register their hours of community service in recognition of my desire for the Tulane community to make life better for those less fortunate.
What can I say? I am flattered, humbled, honored and even a little bit embarrassed. But, mostly, I am grateful to be part of a family that speaks not only with words but with deeds, a community committed to building a better world not only here in New Orleans but around the globe, a people who measure success not by what they earn for themselves but by what they gain by giving to others.
You have been the source of so much joy, happiness and fulfillment for me throughout the years. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the legacy of commitment and care that you are now building in my name. The Cowen Service Challenge is the nicest thing anyone could give me.
Have a great weekend,
September 6, 2013
It is so good to have our students back and a new semester underway. Of all the returning students I was lucky enough to greet personally, I remember my meeting with Devon Walker most vividly. Devon has been on our minds and in our hearts since last September, when he was paralyzed during a football game against Tulsa.
After we learned the extent of his injuries, we all joined Devon’s family in praying that he would be able to rejoin his classmates and team. In less than a year, he has done just that. Devon is back at school working toward completing his Tulane degree in cell and molecular biology and is once again part of the Green Wave football team. A flag emblazoned with 18, his jersey number, leads the Green Wave onto the field at the beginning of each game. On the sidelines, Devon serves as a motivating and inspiring force for his Green Wave brothers and fans alike. On Saturday, http will feature him as part of its College GameDay coverage.
Students arrive at Tulane from all over the world looking to our faculty, staff and administrators for inspiration. Devon came just up the road, from Destrehan, La., with inspiration for us all.
Have a great weekend,
August 30, 2013
This week marked the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Dr. King’s speech and legacy transcend any storm but, as it has during so many other trials in our nation’s history, his message echoed throughout the experience of Katrina.
While occurring miles away and a generation apart from each other, these seemingly disparate events – a speech and a storm – share a number of surprising similarities. Both were seminal moments in struggles that continue to this day. Both raised issues of race, class and justice that shocked America into action. Both were the beginning of amazing progress that also underscores how much work remains to be done. Both can never be forgotten.
Through numerous initiatives such as Tulane Empowers and partnerships with the Posse Foundation, Upward Bound, KIPP and many other like-minded programs, we continually strive to make both the dream of Dr. King and the recovery and renewal from Katrina a reality. None of these efforts would be possible without you.
As President Obama noted this week, “The arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own.”
Have a great Labor Day weekend,
Dear Tulane Community:
Tomorrow we will welcome the newest members of the Tulane family as the class of 2017-18 moves onto campus. This is my 16th Move-in Day as president of Tulane and I am just as excited now as I was back in 1998 when I welcomed my first class. Most of this year’s class were still toddlers then.
Once again, this year’s class is one of the most academically qualified and community-oriented classes in Tulane’s history. When I address them at tomorrow’s convocation I will emphasize to them their importance to both our university and city. I will remind them that a central part of their education will be to explore and connect with our culturally diverse, historically rich, one-of-a-kind community and its people who have so much to teach them. I will remind them of all the good accomplished by the classes that preceded them and how much we are expecting of them.
I will urge them to grow intellectually, ethically and emotionally during their time at Tulane. I will also tell them how many businesses, buildings and traditions in this great city have been started by Tulane graduates in the past and how they are destined to create their own legacy in the future.
Finally, I will tell them to take a good look around, let out a deep breath and relax. They made the right choice. They are home.
Have a great weekend
July 29, 2013
Early Saturday I received the sad news that Lindy Boggs had passed away. Since then much has been written about her long, remarkable life as the first woman from Louisiana elected to Congress, the first woman to preside over the Democratic National Convention and the first woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.
But before Lindy achieved all these firsts, she was a student at Tulane University, where she enrolled in Newcomb College at the age of 15 and served as an editor of the Hullabaloo. My favorite story about Lindy from this period concerns an anonymous “love letter” she and her friends wrote to a professor.
The students had tired of the professor’s constant railing against the rococo style of architecture. So the letter, supposedly from one of his students who was in love with him, stated that the professor could convey his love for the student by saying the word “rococo” in class. As you can imagine, this stifled further expounding on that subject.
Lindy graduated from Tulane in 1935, but her ties to the university remained strong throughout her life. After she retired from Congress in 1991, Lindy returned to Tulane as a special counsel to Tulane’s president. Things had come full circle, but Lindy was not finished with her career on the world stage yet. In 1997, she accepted an appointment as ambassador to the Vatican.
As a champion of civil rights and women’s equality, Lindy was one of the leading political and moral forces of our time. Her legacy at Tulane lives on in numerous ways, ranging from the Boggs Center for Energy and Biotechnology building that bears her name to the lives of the countless young women she mentored and inspired to greatness.
On a personal level, Margie and I will always cherish our friendship with Lindy. Our time with her through the years will always be among our fondest memories and a reminder of what a difference one person can make in the world.
Role model, leader, benefactor and friend – there are so many words that could be said to express Tulane’s feelings for Lindy. But one word in particular seems to best capture the thoughts of the entire Tulane community at this time: rococo.
May 31, 2013
Dear Colleagues, Alumni, Students, Parents and Friends:
I recently informed the Board of Tulane of my intention to retire as Tulane University’s 14th President effective July 1, 2014. This decision was an extremely difficult one for Margie and me because of our devotion to Tulane and New Orleans, our adopted home. Above all, however, it is our deep affection and respect for all of you and what we have experienced together in the past that makes this decision particularly emotional and personal for us.
When I began my presidency in 1998, I told the Board that I would serve a ten-year term. Of course, Hurricane Katrina dramatically changed that timetable as we all committed to rebuilding and re-imagining Tulane and New Orleans. Our focus and determination to persevere created a powerful bond amongst all of us that ultimately led to Tulane’s extraordinary recovery. Today, because of our collective efforts, Tulane is vibrant, distinctive and well positioned to address the new opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
The next decade promises to be a transformative one for higher education and Tulane. The university is now at a vital and exciting stage as it moves forward with the implementation of an ambitious strategic plan and undertakes an equally ambitious fundraising campaign. As Tulane embarks on this next journey, it would be best served with presidential leadership prepared to guide it for another decade or more.
Margie and I will save our thank-yous and goodbyes for a later date. In the meantime, we will remain fully engaged with our work at Tulane until our last day in office. Our dedication to and passion for Tulane demands nothing less, as critically important work lies ahead over these next 13 months.
It is a privilege and honor to be part of such a devoted and talented community. I am confident and optimistic about Tulane’s future, and I look forward to working with you next year as we continue to advance this great university.
This is my last regular Tulane Talk for this academic year but I will stay in touch during the summer as news and events dictate. I do wish you a summer filled with fun, relaxation and great weather.
With much fondness and appreciation,
May 24, 2013
Everyone is still talking about Commencement 2013. While graduation is a special day everywhere, I would venture to say that no other commencement in the country featured the Dalai Lama second lining to the music of Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. But amid all the dancing, fireworks and fun, His Holiness also delivered a simple and powerful message that included this wisdom: “In order to have a meaningful life, you should take care of others’ well-being.”
At the time no one realized how soon an opportunity to put these words into practice would present itself. Monday’s horrific tornado that devastated Moore, Newcastle and other Oklahoma City communities immediately shifted our focus. We contacted all of our students from the Oklahoma City area to see how they had fared and how the university might assist them. We know far too well that recovery and healing from such a disaster does not happen overnight or without the help of others.
I was relieved to learn that all of our students and their families who live in the communities struck by the tornado were safe. I was also grateful to receive a message from an Oklahoma City resident who said she was “proud but not surprised” to witness Tulane students sorting donations and cleaning apartments that will shelter victims of the tornado. The writer, a Tulane parent herself, credited the university’s community service requirement with instilling a spirit of service in these students. “Service learning does become learning to serve,” she wrote.
This is what a Tulane education is really all about. Whether it is Central City, Oklahoma City or any city in the world, our students spend a lot of their time on the streets, using classroom knowledge to empower and improve the world. The experience they acquire is unforgettable; the difference they make is invaluable. I am proud they are living the words that the Dalai Lama spoke at Commencement.
Have a great weekend,