Transcript of President Cowen's Audio Message - September 3, 2005

There is no way to describe the catastrophic events of the past week. It has been unbelievably difficult for everyone associated with the university and our beloved city.

I witnessed the wrath of Hurricane Katrina from a command center at the Reily Center on our uptown campus. Our team was able to leave Thursday and we relocated to Houston where we have established a satellite office. Our campuses suffered some damage, but certainly not anything that could not be repaired in a matter of weeks. There is water damage, some windows are broken, some roofing tiles were blown off and there are a number of downed trees. The damage is manageable and not to the level sustained in other parts of the city.

Tulane has always been an integral part of the New Orleans community in many ways –we are the largest private employer in Orleans parish and an economic engine of great impact. Tulane University relies on the infrastructure of the city to exist and as we all know that infrastructure has suffered major damage. That is why I was forced to make the difficult decision to not hold classes at Tulane University for the fall semester. This decision affects the current fall semester only and impacts all of us.

Thanks to a plan developed by nine of the leading higher education associations in the United States , Tulane University students will be allowed to enroll as temporary students at colleges and universities across the country for the fall semester only. Tulane will accept credit for all courses with a passing grade from regionally accredited universities and it will be applied to a student's course of study.

It is a uniform set of guidelines for all colleges and universities to follow, rather than having hundreds of schools craft arrangements on a case-by-case basis. Students should present these guidelines to a school of interest when trying to enroll.

Students, I know you and your parents have questions. We will answer them as quickly as possible. We will soon have a call center available to answer your questions about the enrollment plan, specifically tuition-related questions. You can be sure that we will implement the plan in a manner that is fair and equitable as it regards the tuition you have paid or must pay to the institution you will attend this fall.

Next, we turned our attention to the most critical issues facing our employees. Hurricane Katrina knocked out our technology and communications systems. We are rebuilding them. The logistics of re-establishing our payroll system are complex. Imagine - we no longer have contact information for the majority of our 6,000 employees. We are reconstructing our payroll systems so that we can make sure that the September checks are delivered. This is another area that we are feverishly working on and making tremendous progress hour by hour.

These are just a few of the most critical issues facing Tulane today. We will resolve each issue in due time. The progress we are making is encouraging and we will succeed.

Tulane University will emerge an even stronger, more resilient institution.

I ask your patience as we address these challenges. Please continue to monitor this website and also the alert line for regular updates. We will soon have the capability to hear from you.

Thank you.