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Tulane: Survival to Renewal

October 31, 2005

Debbie Grant

In a darkened auditorium early on Saturday morning (Oct. 29), Tulane President Scott Cowen walked on stage and introduced himself to an audience of nearly 500 students, parents, alumni, staff, faculty and trustees. The response was a standing ovation that brought tears to the eyes of many, including the man on stage.

103105_tulaneinny_1 In a 90-minute presentation at New York University that was carried live as an audio program on the Internet, Cowen told Tulane's Hurricane Katrina story to a rapt audience. The program, entitled "Tulane: Survival to Renewal," began with a short music video of Wanda Rouzan singing "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" on Tulane's pre-Katrina campus.

During his talk, Cowen spoke of Tulane's battle for survival in the aftermath of the storm. He cited the many "unsung heroes" who have worked non-stop to prepare the university for its reopening in January, including the students who operate TEMS (Tulane Emergency Medical Services), the staff of the facilities department who were instrumental in his escape from campus as the floodwaters closed in and the physicians who are operating out of makeshift clinics in parking lots and a casino.

Cowen also talked about the reconstruction of the campus as he showed slides of workers drying out buildings, rebuilding classrooms and cleaning equipment.

Much of his presentation focused on what he called "Building a Village," in reference to the university's oft-stated intention of building its own infrastructure. Cowen outlined the four-college partnership that brings Tulane, Xavier, Dillard and Loyola universities together to mutually support one another as each institution rebuilds its campus. He also spoke of Tulane's efforts to establish a charter school for the children of faculty and staff, and about the need to provide housing for displaced employees and students who previously lived off-campus.

Cowen finished his talk with a description of Tulane University in the 21st century. By design, he said, Tulane will be an even higher quality institution, a smaller, more focused university and one that remains involved in building and sustaining healthy urban communities.

The program concluded with questions from about 30 members of the audience. As the crowd filed out, images of the campus played on the auditorium's screen, accompanied by Tulane's new theme song, "Makin' New Tradition Every Day."

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