April 18, 2008

Dear Colleagues:

This has been a week of reflection, sadness and hope for me that started in Washington, D.C. at the biannual meeting of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization of the 60 largest and most respected research universities in the United States and Canada. This meeting’s focus on college affordability, accessibility and accountability caused me to reflect  on the future of higher education. I plan to write and speak about each of these critical issues in the weeks and months ahead, starting with next month's Board of Tulane meeting.

I returned to campus Tuesday evening in time to attend and speak at a student-organized candlelight vigil in remembrance of the 42 students and faculty killed at Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University and Louisiana Technical College in Baton Rouge. Our students spoke with eloquence and maturity beyond their years. Their remembrances were a source of sadness, recalling the tragic and violent deaths of so many young people with so much promise. As a father, grandfather and someone who has spent his entire adult life among young people, I grieved for our students, the victims and their families and for a world where there is so much violence, intolerance and hatred.

The week ended with the publication of the second annual State of Public Education Report by Tulane's Cowen Institute for Public Education in partnership with the New Orleans City Council and the Greater New Orleans Education Foundation. This report, which can be found at, fills me with hope. While many challenges still remain, its survey of students, teachers, principals, parents, community leaders, public officials and education experts revealed significant progress in improving public education in our city. This progress is the basis for the hope I have for our city and the next generation of New Orleanians. We cannot yet declare victory but we are certainly on the right path.

As I reread this Tulane Talk I now realize that my feelings of reflection, sadness and hope this week cannot be divided and assigned individually to three separate events but are intertwined with all three experiences. Each of these experiences include elements of reflection and sadness but end, ultimately, with hope.

Have a great weekend,


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