From the President: Strategies for education and research

March 31, 2000

Scott Cowen

If you look at the four primary areas of strategic initiative in our planning for the next decade at Tulane, one of the four, education and research, certainly stands out as being basic to all university endeavors. Education and research lie at the heart of any university, and Tulane is no exception. It follows, then, that seeking ways to enhance our educational and research efforts must be a key factor in any planning we do.

We have established three priorities for the future in terms of education and research: To significantly enhance the quality of the undergraduate experience; To selectively grow or develop new professional and graduate programs in areas where we can achieve academic prominence; To further elevate our ability to do high-quality research throughout the university with an added focus on the sciences and engineering.

These three priorities are established around the idea that we must build on our strengths in areas in which we have a real opportunity to excel. We have already begun taking strides toward some of our educational goals.

For example, we want to continue to strengthen the academic core of our undergraduate experience while significantly enhancing the non-curricular portion of that experience. Through our Lagniappe: Freshman Experience program and our new residential communities, we are already making an impact in our students' overall Tulane experience. There are other things I would like to see us achieve in terms of the education we offer.

We should continue to increase the quality of the student body using appropriate input and output measures. We should work to become known for the distinctive undergraduate experience that we offer. We should have 75 percent of our graduate programs fall in the top two quartiles of appropriate rankings, which will be a significant achievement.

And all of our professional programs should fall in the top 25 of national standings. Our program in public health is already in that elite category; others are close. We should move them up to that next level.

In terms of research, Tulane University is an AAU research university with Carnegie 1 status, and we should work hard to preserve that and to move up in the rankings. We also should improve our research support services and infrastructure, providing whatever assistance is needed,whether it is grant-writing assistance or start-up space provisions,that will enable us to increase the amount of competitively awarded, federally funded research dollars we attract.

One of the keys to enhancing both education and research at Tulane is our ability to develop and implement interdisciplinary programs that link schools and colleges or educational levels. Eradicating the boundaries between disciplines allows us to tackle problems and discuss issues in a more comprehensive, broad-ranging and effective way. We already have a number of strong interdisciplinary programs in areas such as urban and environmental studies.

In the next decade, I would like to see 50 percent of our interdisciplinary programs achieve national or international recognition. I mentioned earlier that Tulane's priorities in terms of education and research are built around strengthening areas in which we already have a solid base, areas in which we truly have the opportunity to excel in terms of any gauge one might use to rank such areas.

We have identified four areas of particular strength at Tulane in which I would like to see us focus much attention and resources in the coming years: environmental studies; health sciences and biomedical studies; international and area studies; and urban studies. These are also strong research areas, and areas that involve interdisciplinary collaboration. We must find a way to take these strengths and use them to make our mark in education, research and service.

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