April 23, 2004

I spent most of this week attending the spring meeting of the presidents and chancellors of the Association of American Universities (AAU) in Washington, D.C. The AAU is comprised of the top 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada. These are universities whose basic research has brought myriad benefits to the world including space exploration, the polio vaccine and the first digital computer.

At the meeting my fellow university leaders and I discussed universities in the marketplace, relationships between Asian universities and AAU institutions, re-authorization of the Higher Education Act and the federal government's plans for funding future research through the National Institutes of Health.

I always find these sessions informative and a catalyst for opportunities we could pursue at Tulane University. Two related ideas I plan to discuss with the President's Council this summer are: (1) the desirability of holding a research summit at Tulane next year to discuss recent accomplishments and the path we should follow in the next decade to ensure that we continue to increase our research competitiveness and stay at the forefront in the discovery of new knowledge, especially in the sciences and engineering and (2) a series of discussions on how we can continue to strengthen and support the humanities and arts and social sciences at the university.

The AAU will shortly release a "white paper" on the status of the humanities at U.S. universities. This should prompt an informed discussion in this key area as well as in the arts and social sciences. If we decide to move forward with these two projects next year we will consult widely with the faculty to determine how best to get the most from such dialogues.

By the way, after observing the status, financial and otherwise, of many other AAU universities, I left the meeting feeling quite positive about our comparative accomplishments and prospects for the future. I know more needs to be done but we are currently well-positioned to leverage our many resources to build an even stronger institution in the years ahead. I am looking forward to the journey.

Have a great weekend,


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