May 14, 2004

Good Morning:

Monday marks the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation in public schools and helped spark the Civil Rights movement. While the changes wrought by Brown have been profound, much still needs to be done to ensure equal education and opportunity for all. Since efforts to desegregate schools began at the university level some 20 years before the Brown decision, I believe that universities again need to take the lead in making the aims of that decision a reality.

With that in mind, Tulane University formed the Special Task Force on Undergraduate Student Body Diversity in January. The task force has drafted a statement outlining Tulane's commitment to undergraduate student diversity, analyzed a broad range of recommended race-neutral alternatives to increase student diversity and completed a thorough study of Tulane's recruitment, admissions and financial aid procedures. The task force plans to produce by the fall semester a set of recommendations to realign our recruitment, admissions and financial aid practices to achieve greater diversity in the undergraduate student body consistent with the findings of the University of Michigan Supreme Court case.

Tulane also continues efforts to encourage minorities to attend and succeed in college through programs such as Upward Bound, the Graduate Alliance for Education in Louisiana and numerous others. We are also committed to increasing diversity of all kinds among our faculty and staff. An exhaustive report on the university's level of diversity and equity, with recommendations to increase both, is currently under review.

For an historical perspective on some of the broad issues implicated by the Brown decision, the Deep South Regional Humanities Center at Tulane is hosting "Unsettling Memories," a conference that will examine the great written, musical and visual art the South has created in response to its troubled racial history. Participants at the conference, which will take place June 15 to June 21 in Jackson, Mississippi, include author Alice Walker, musician Otis Taylor, artist William Christenberry and many others, including those whose family members were victims of racial violence. I will attend this conference and hope many of you will be able to do the same. For more information visit

This conference and our other ongoing efforts demonstrate that while the full impact of Brown has yet to be realized, Tulane, as an institution and community, is committed to its longed for realization.

Have a great weekend,


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