January 5, 2009

Good Morning:

I want to welcome everyone back from Winter Recess. I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday and are ready for another successful year.

As we begin the New Year, I thought it would be useful to update you on the economy and its likely impact on Tulane over the course of the next fiscal year.

As you all know, the global economic downturn continues to be problematic on a scale unseen in decades. The downturn’s duration and its adverse impact are predicted to continue this year and into 2010. No sectors of the economy are immune to the recession, including higher education.

Despite the weakened economy, I remain optimistic that Tulane University will weather this chaotic period better than most of our peers. My optimism remains rooted in the same factors I mentioned to you two months ago. These factors include the success of our post-Katrina academic and administrative strategies, which have led to a “lean” organization, a strengthened financial position, and unprecedented levels of student interest and quality. These bright spots, combined with the stability and performance of our faculty and staff and the continued support of our alumni and friends, bode well for the future.

Nevertheless, Tulane, like other higher education institutions, is facing the realities of a smaller endowment, lower endowment income, decreases in major fund raising, an increased need for student financial aid, and lower federal and state support. In an uncertain time like this, institutions need to be strategically focused on a few key priorities while protecting their core strengths and prudently managing their financial resources.

As we begin to prepare the fiscal year 2010 budget and based on recent discussions with the Tulane Board, members of the University Senate, and other university leaders, the administration has made a few modifications to next year’s institutional priorities. The university’s primary priorities are to:

  • ensure the job stability and well being of our existing faculty and staff,
  • provide financial assistance to meritorious students so they can continue to have access to a Tulane education,
  • continue to diversify the student body, and
  • continue to support on-going key academic, student and administrative initiatives emanating from the post- Katrina Renewal Plan.

In addition, there are a few other initiatives that might be undertaken if funds become available. They include the:

  • expansion and strengthening of doctoral programs consistent with the framework developed by the Provost and Office of Academic Affairs,
  • phased implementation of the faculty and staff compensation enhancement program, and
  • support of Project 2020, which focuses on growing interdisciplinary research programs in the sciences and engineering.

As a prudent first step to ensure our financial stability and future success, we have now decided to implement the Faculty and Staff Headcount Stabilization Plan alluded to in my October 31, 2008 Tulane Talk. The plan’s purpose is to set our employment base at current levels and to ensure that those who are with Tulane today are secure in their positions into the future. A description of this program will be sent to Deans, Directors and Department Heads today. It is effective immediately.

We also continue to pursue the other actions outlined in my October 31, 2008 Tulane Talk. In particular, we will explore options regarding possible salary increases for next year. However, a final decision about increases will remain deferred until we get further into the detailed budgeting process and have more time to assess the economy’s evolving impact on the university.

I will continue to periodically update you on these important topics during the semester. To be sure, 2009 will pose certain challenges for us, but I am very optimistic that it will be on balance a very rewarding and productive year for Tulane.

I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year.


Office of the President Emeritus, 1555 Poydras St, Suite 700, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-274-3638