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Tulane Redefines The Undergrad Experience

December 9, 2005

Suzanne Johnson

In a move that Tulane University President Scott Cowen called "the most significant reinvention of a university in the United States in over a century," the Tulane Board of Administrators today approved a comprehensive plan aimed at strengthening the university academically and more tightly focusing its academic and financial resources following Hurricane Katrina, which dealt a $200 million blow to the university in terms of physical damage.

Scott Cowen

President Scott Cowen announced a renewal plan that will
'ensure world-class excellence' of Tulane University. Adopted by
the Board of Administrators, the wide-ranging plan brings about
changes to undergraduate and graduate programs, the School of
Medicine and intercollegiate athletics.

"We have spent 172 years building a legacy for Tulane University as one of the greatest institutions in the country, and we are going to ensure world-class excellence," Cowen said. "That is the core of this plan."

The renewal plan approved by the board included changes across a broad range of university divisions, including undergraduate and graduate programs, the School of Medicine and intercollegiate athletics.

In making the changes, Cowen said, the board looked to ensure that Tulane remains a world-class educational institution, that the university's financial future is secured, and that the lessons learned from Katrina can be used to serve not only Tulane but other universities and communities. He also pledged that Tulane would play a major role in rebuilding the city of New Orleans.

At the heart of the Tulane renewal plan is an academic reorganization that will enhance the undergraduate experience for Tulane students and help the university focus its resources on graduate and research areas in which it has existing strengths, said Richard Whiteside, vice president of enrollment management and institutional research.

"The changes being made offer our students the maximum amount of opportunity to be successful--academically, intellectually, and in terms of their own personal commitments and aspirations," he said.

The academic reorganization involves a number of changes:

  • Starting in fall 2006, all full-time undergraduates in all majors will be enrolled in a newly formed Undergraduate College. The college will include several features to enhance the overall Tulane undergraduate experience, including a common core curriculum, a public-service requirement and an expanded opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary studies.

  • Five undergraduate programs--Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Exercise and Sport Sciences--will be eliminated at the end of the 2006-2007 academic year. The faculties of the School of Engineering and of Liberal Arts and Sciences will be divided into two new schools, the School of Science and Engineering and the School of Liberal Arts.

  • Effective fall 2006 with the formation of the new Undergraduate College, the coordinate college system of Newcomb College for women and Tulane College for men will be discontinued. A board task force has been formed to determine the appropriate mechanisms for retaining the Newcomb and Tulane names and integrate aspects of their historic missions in light of the new approach to undergraduate education.

  • All full-time faculty at Tulane will be required to teach undergraduate students.

  • All students entering in the fall 2006 semester or later will be required to participate in community-service work prior to graduation.

  • The development of a residential college system at Tulane--in which undergraduates will be members of a residential community where they live, study and work with faculty members and their families--will be accelerated. All first- and second-year students will be required to live on campus in the residential communities by 2007.

  • The Graduate School will be eliminated; graduate programs will be administered within the various schools and colleges. In order to focus resources into programs where there are existing strengths or the proven ability to attract independent outside research funding, a number of graduate programs will be eliminated.

Although many of the decisions, particularly those that required cutting programs, were difficult, the result will be a smaller, but more focused, Tulane, said Lester Lefton, senior vice president of academic affairs and provost.

"These changes will make us a more student-friendly university, and will make us an academically stronger university," he said.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000