Growing Great by Dreams

November 19, 1999

President Scott Cowen

Following is an excerpt of Scott Cowen's inaugural address:

I would like you to go on a journey with me. Let's imagine that we are at a gathering at Tulane University in the year 2010, and the topic is Tulane since the beginning of the Millennium.

What is it we would like to say about our achievements since 2000? First, I would like anyone associated with this institution to say that it had a profound and long-lasting impact on his or her life.

In fact, the Tulane experience was a seminal one in the intellectual growth and development of all those associated with it. At a time when technology is pervasive in society, Tulane found a way to create a high-tech, high-touch culture that values the human spirit and individual initiative.

For our students, this requires us to be attentive to every aspect of the collegiate experience, from admissions to career counseling and placement, and everything in between. For our faculty and staff, it requires us to create a culture of excellence and develop an infrastructure that allows us to attract and retain the very best people. It also requires us to change the public image of Tulane.

I want people to perceive Tulane as an extremely high-quality academic institution that continually aspires to deliver a demanding and rigorous learning experience in a vibrant and exciting intellectual environment.

It also requires us to find creative and effective ways to use technology in the learning process without depersonalizing the collegiate experience and replacing personal human interaction as a means to facilitate learning and individual intellectual growth.

Is this a realistic expectation for us to accomplish by 2010? I think we can and, besides, an inauguration allows leeway for dreaming. As that great entrepreneur Walt Disney said, "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."

The second thing I would like people to say about Tulane in the year 2010 is that it is a university that always fulfills its dreams. This is not an easy challenge, for it first requires us as an institution to dream. Then we must have the discipline to transform these dreams into reality.

My friends, we must learn to dream together to shape the future of this wonderful institution. This is a daunting task under the best of circumstances. It is a particularly difficult challenge at Tulane because of our having to continually cope with financial issues and having to do more with less at a time when we have increasing expectations put on us by ourselves and others.

Yet, we must occasionally dream together if we are ever to realize a future we cannot envision today. Albert Einstein reminds us that In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. Let's make a commitment from here forward to be a university in the best meaning of the word, one that dares to dream while others only work. A university that is a renaissance of thought and action in spirit and deed, and does not use this phrase merely as a marketing slogan.

To accomplish this, we must develop a level of trust, goodwill and cooperation among us unprecedented at this university and at many others. As faculty, we are often bred to be cynical and skeptical, especially when it comes to the motives and actions of administration. If these feelings exist here, let's put them aside and move forward together to realize our dreams.

I will approach my leadership challenge in this manner and I hope you will as well. My final expectation for 2010 is that Tulane is a beloved local treasure and a national model of influence, accomplishment and recognition. When I think of this last hope for Tulane I can't help but think of the Mississippi River.

In many ways, I hope Tulane can, in the years ahead, be described in many of the words used for the river: powerful, influential, inspiring, unpredictable, and a catalyst for growth and change for all those who come in contact with it-a true resource of local and national prominence. If we continually fulfill our mission and achieve our dreams, we will have earned the right to this position. Much progress has already been made, yet so much more needs to be done to accomplish this by 2010.

I sincerely hope-no, I believe-that our dreams for Tulane University can come true.

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