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From the president: What I did on my summer vacation

August 28, 2000

Scott Cowen

What's your idea of an ideal summer? A time for traveling? For catching up on all those books you've had on your "to-read" list? For getting things in order and in place so the upcoming year can be as successful as possible? In a nutshell, that was my summer, and I found it both productive and invigorating.

Even in my summer travels, Tulane was not far from my thoughts as I visited first Central America and then Taiwan with deans and other senior administrators of the university. As communication and technology make our world smaller and more accessible, our global commitments and partnerships become of increasing importance.

Our purpose in visiting Panama, Costa Rica and Taiwan was not only to visit with university alumni in those areas, but also to reaffirm our existing commitments in educational and research arenas, and to explore the possibilities of additional collaborations.

After meeting with many political and business leaders in these countries, I came away from my travels very pleased with what we are doing and see many more opportunities for partnerships that will be consistent with our strategic plan. Speaking of which-and I know this will come as no surprise-strategic planning remained an important focus for me the last three months.

Summer generally provides time for reflection, and I was able to review last year's accomplishments in terms of our ongoing strategic planning process. I also identified the areas that should be our high-priority items for this year; I will discuss these at "town hall" meetings that I will begin holding in the near future, as well as in meetings with individual school and college faculties.

Also this summer, we finished laying the groundwork for the university's upcoming capital campaign, including a review of all the school and college plans, creation of an outline of campaign priorities, and development of the campaign's tentative goals, timing and structure. I will present these issues to the Tulane Board at its September retreat, and will also prepare presentations for the University Senate, Administrative Council and other universitywide boards.

Progress also was made this summer in terms of preparing ourselves for a number of key personnel searches we will be undergoing this year, including several open deanships, vice presidencies and, of course, the position of senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. We will be working hard to find the absolute best fit of candidates to fill these important positions.

Finally, summer always provides the opportunity to catch up on reading, and I've tucked away well over a dozen books since the end of the last spring semester. Among my favorites have been Thomas L. Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization; William Safire's Scandalmongers; David Liss' A Conspiracy of Paper; Jane Tompkins' A Life in School: What the Teacher Learned; Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference; and Ron Suskind's A Hope in the Unseen.

My summer reading list represents a lot of different ideas and genres, but each of the books has been thought-provoking and have helped energize me intellectually and personally for another exciting year at Tulane. I hope you're ready, as well.

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