February 9, 2001
“Tulane Goes To Washington” is the theme of this week. About once every quarter several of us go to D.C. to meet with our Louisiana legislators. This is a good opportunity for us to discuss areas of mutual interest. Our legislators have been very helpful to us over the years and these visits reinforce important relationships. Each February, we also host a Tulane/Xavier reception for the legislators and their staff. This event is always a lot of fun and a very productive time, as well. Norman Francis and I hosted this year’s reception which took place Wednesday evening.
Thanks for all the nice notes about the Times-Picayune article in last Sunday’s newspaper. The reporter gave me much more credit than I deserve. (Actually you deserve all the credit, not me.) On balance, she was pretty faithful to our interviews.
I also appreciate all the many e-mails regarding Tulane Talk. I wish I could respond to each of you personally, but, rest assured, your comments are read by and mean a lot to me.
Have a good weekend.
February 2, 2001
This was the week of “The Suit.” I spent most of the week in New York City doing “friend raising” activities (code name for fund raising). I left for New York very early Tuesday morning. I dressed casually, assuming I could change at my hotel before my first meeting. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring a suit with me. Have you ever tried to buy a size 50 long suit off the rack and have it altered in 30 minutes? This is not an easy task, but being a university president requires being resourceful and tenacious. Well, to make a very long story shorter, I am now the proud owner of a new suit, matching tie and shirt bought in record time in the Big Apple.
By the way, the trip was a success and my tail(or) of woe made for a great story at each visit. The rest of the week was focused on interviewing or discussing the searches we have underway for a Provost, Law School Dean, and VP of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer. Last night we hosted a reception for John Alexander, a noted artist from New York, who was in New Orleans for an exhibition and to lecture at Tulane.
For Gibson watchers, you may want to check out http picture.
Have a good weekend.
January 26, 2001
What a week! This one was dominated by the SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) visit, the Provost search and my open letter to students about excessive drinking and the new alcohol policy in residence halls.
Every ten years the university goes through a comprehensive reaccreditation process that includes a self evaluation and a visit to campus by a review team from peer institutions. The self study alone took almost two years to prepare and this week we were visited by the peer review team consisting of members from Emory, Rice, SMU, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Duke and other universities. Their evaluation was very complimentary and only included a few recommendations for change. The team commented on a number of positive things including the quality of the faculty and staff, student affairs, undergraduate admissions, the planning process, and a number of undergraduate initiatives. I need to thank so many people for overseeing this process but I would particularly like to extend my appreciation to Dick Whiteside, Phil Leinbach, Hugh Lester and Charmane Leblanc for leading the charge.
We also hosted another Provost candidate this week and are now processing feedback from all the visits thus far.
On Thursday I presented a letter to student leaders, which you can http online. The letter outlined my concerns about excessive drinking and informed students that our policy allowing those under 21 to drink in the residence halls will be phased out over the next 18 months as part of a comprehensive effort to make the environment safer for our students and to put greater emphasis on our academic culture rather than the “party” scene.
By the way, I had a great time at the staff appreciation lunch last week. I was overwhelmed by the attendance and the great spirit represented in the room. A president could not ask for a nicer group of people to work with.
Have a nice weekend.
January 19, 2001
It was great to hear from so many of you regarding “Tulane Talk.” I’m glad you like the name Gibson, too. She’ll arrive at our home early next month.
A lot has happened since I wrote you last Friday. Over the weekend I attended the dedication of a new Habitat for Humanity Home that was built, board by board, by Tulane students with money they raised themselves. I couldn’t have been more proud to help unveil this beautiful home. On Monday we observed Martin Luther King’s Birthday by attending an interfaith service at Dillard University. By the way, you may have seen me on the evening news moving to the rhythm of the beautiful gospel music. I spent much of the early part of the week in meetings focused on our searches for a Provost, VP of Information Technology and various deanships. On Thursday I joined the deans and major gift officers in a seminar on fund raising in preparation for our capital campaign. One of the key points we discussed was that people don’t give money because you need it. They only give because they get inspired by people and ideas and the opportunity to improve an organization they cherish.
Tonight, I’ll join my colleague and good friend Norman Francis for a Candlelight March in honor of Dr. King. The march will take us from Xavier University to Dixon Hall where we will take part in an “Expressions of Unity” ceremony. I always enjoy my time with Norman and never tire of hearing his stories about growing up in New Orleans. I have a full schedule today, but I’m looking forward to taking a break and meeting as many of you as possible at today’s Staff Advisory luncheon at the Radisson Hotel.
For the past month I have been experimenting with a new method of communicating with senior members of the university’s administration through a weekly e-mail called “Tulane Talk.” I would now like to expand this to include all faculty and staff. Every Friday I will send you a few lines about the past week’s activities and give you a preview of the week to come.
I hope that you all had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday break. I spent mine in snowy Cleveland, visiting with our four children, reading interesting books (Rope Burns, Bowling Alone and Golden Retrievers for Dummies), getting caught up on correspondence and finally finding my way to some back issues of various journals and magazines. If you’re wondering about my sudden interest in Golden Retrievers, I guess I can let the cat, or in this case the dog, out of the bag. We’re thinking about adding a new resident to Number 2 Audubon. What do you think about the name “Gibson” for the new First Dog?
This week I traveled to Houston and San Antonio where I met with some alumni and shared our exciting vision for Tulane’s future. On Wednesday I visited the School of Architecture, beginning my annual practice of sitting down with the faculty of each college to assess the previous year and plan for the future. I also interviewed a candidate for director of the Primate Center and toured several HANO properties to assess our efforts in community outreach. Thursday I interviewed candidates for the newly created position of Executive Director of Alcohol Concerns. I’ll meet with the Administrative Council today, conduct additional interviews and also meet with the director of the National Science Foundation’s mathematics division. That’s all for now. See you next week.