22, 2005 - 10 a.m.
16, 2005 - 10 a.m.
It has now been one week since the Board of
approved the historic plan to reinvent the
university in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina. Not surprisingly, there
have been questions about the
plan, ranging from the timing of its announcement,
to why it was needed at
all, to clarification about its specifics.
The necessity for and timing of the Renewal
Plan were most perplexing to
Tulanians around the country who do not have
first-hand knowledge or an
understanding of what New Orleans, its people
and institutions, including
Tulane, have been through in the last three
months as a result of Hurricane
To give you a clearer understanding
and context in which these decisions
were made, I refer you to a letter recently
sent to Congress on behalf of
virtually all of the leading higher educations
associations in America.
In addition, I also suggest
you read the e-mail I sent to all of our
students this week regarding the Renewal Plan.
These two messages may provide a richer perspective
on the university's
What differentiates Tulane’s
actions from other institutions in the
is that Tulane decided to take a visionary,
focused and expansive approach
to reinvention to meet the dual objectives
of maintaining our commitment to
academic excellence, which has been the university’s
focus for 172 years,
and resolving our financial challenges.
We rejected the notion of only cutting costs
across the board to
survive. The reality of the current situation
in New Orleans and the
realization that change was inevitable required
us to make
quick, informed and difficult decisions. I
assure you that these decisions
were motivated only by the realities of our
situation and not by other
I realize our decisions have caused pain,
anger and frustration for the
people most affected by the changes. I truly
sympathize and regret this. I
just hope, over time, all Tulanians will come
to accept and understand that
this action was absolutely necessary for the
university to survive and
thrive in the future and continue to serve
as a source of hope and renewal
for our community.
Scott S. Cowen
8, 2005 - 12 p.m.
A little over three months ago Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in the history of the U.S., caused unbelievable destruction to our beloved city, its people and institutions, including Tulane University. However, Katrina did not destroy us because of the courage and sheer determination of so many who would not accept defeat no matter what obstacles or challenges stood in the way.
Tulane University will open its doors on January 17 to approximately 86 percent of the students who were here pre-Katrina, a figure no one thought conceivable three months ago. This speaks volumes about the quality and commitment of our students, faculty and staff. I am so proud and honored to be associated with each and every one of you.
But for Tulane University, survival and recovery are not enough. We aspire to so much more for ourselves and for our city, region and country. It took Tulane 172 years to become one of the most respected and highly regarded universities in the nation. I am here today to tell you, the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Tulane, that regardless of what challenges we face we have no intention of letting this disaster destroy our legacy and dream of world-class academic excellence.
Tulane stands shoulder to shoulder with other New Orleanians in its commitment and determination to rebuild our city, block by block. I make this pledge on behalf of Tulane University, the premier academic university in the region, New Orleans' largest employer and one of the largest economic engines in the state.
The road back will not be an easy one for any of us. Like many other institutions, Tulane University realized substantial financial losses from the hurricane. But even as we undertook the daunting and expensive task of cleaning up and repairing the damage to our campuses, we were committed to retaining, to the greatest degree possible, the core that makes Tulane great—its people. We did this by quickly establishing communications following the storm, taking care of our students' academic needs, and maintaining the payroll for the majority of our full-time faculty and staff throughout the fall semester while we were closed.
But such commitment comes with a price and, for Tulane, that price is significant. Today, the Board of Administrators approved a bold and courageous plan for the university that ensures our continued academic excellence and financial recovery. More information about the plan is available at renewal.tulane.edu.
Our plan represents the most significant reinvention of an American university in more than a century. It required us to make difficult decisions about programs and people, which we attempted to do strategically and with sensitivity to those whose positions were eliminated. It is a plan borne out of a disaster but it reflects a university willing to change, to overcome adversity, to take control of its destiny and to face the future with determination and confidence. It reflects a university that loves New Orleans and understands its leadership role in rebuilding the city as its largest employer. As Tulane excels, so will New Orleans. As New Orleans shines again, Tulane will bask in that light.
The word “light” reminds me of an e-mail I sent on August 30 as the floodwaters rose in the city and I and a handful of my staff awaited rescue from the Reily Center. Although we are three months and a lifetime removed from those dark days, I think the sentiment expressed in that note is still applicable.
“It is difficult to describe what this situation feels like for those involved,” I wrote. “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.”
That light is, and always will remain, our focus.
Scott S. Cowen