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Cowen Contemplates Renaissance

May 1, 1998

Nick Marinello

Wanting to use every opportunity to get out his message, president-elect Scott Cowen has set into motion a plan to develop 1998-99 as an "inaugural year" that will infuse a theme of renewal and change into many of the events and activities that occur during the academic year.

"We want to use the inauguration as part of a process," said Cowen, indicating that that process will not only be a ceremonial welcome but also a substantive discourse on the future of Tulane. Cowen coined "Tulane: A Renaissance of Thought and Action" to be his inaugural theme and said he hopes it will "engage and challenge" the university's various constituencies. "I want people to think creatively," said Cowen, "I hope they will think about a renaissance as being literally a renewal, a regeneration and therefore consider how we should act as an institution to reconfigure Tulane for the future."

Cowen said he expects the theme to resonate throughout the ordinary course of events that occur at Tulane. It will be the theme of the convocation he will deliver to faculty, staff and students in September, and could be integrated into annual highlights such as orientation, homecoming, parents' weekend and the alumni-targeted educational conference.

"One of the reasons I've used this theme is that it is broad enough to be inclusive of everybody at the university," said Cowen, who sees the university as being comprised of internal and external "stakeholders," including students, faculty, staff, academic administrators, alumni and members of the New Orleans community.

"We will identify the events that connect with each group and then construct a dialogue for each event based on the inaugural theme," said Cowen, who adds that he will develop and interject into each event "four or five questions" that contemplate Tulane's future. "The questions will focus on what it is we would like Tulane to be 10 years from now," said Cowen. "How would we like people to think about Tulane? Imagine if you took questions like these and used them throughout the year with every stakeholder group--you would begin to get a consensus of what people are feeling about the institution."

Cowen said it is essential for faculty and staff to be "important participants in talking about the future of the institution." He added that he expects the "renaissance of thought and action" theme to influence the strategic planning that will take place during the next two years.

"It will be a very focused process but it will be one that ensures involvement of all major stakeholder groups." "Most universities," said Cowen, "designate one day or a weekend in the year to have an inaugural event. Staging it in an ongoing manner through a year-long set of activities set around a specific theme not only helps us with our strategic planning effort but will bring people together into a dialogue about the institution."

He indicated that the inaugural year would culminate in "a universitywide commencement where we will also have a formal inauguration. I will use that occasion to tie together all the ideas gleaned from the year with my own ideas about the future of Tulane."

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