From the president's town talks

September 27, 2000

Scott Cowen

Appropriately, this fall is being dominated by the upcoming national election and discussions over the plans and directions for our country's future. If this election year is like those previous, one of the television networks will invariably sponsor some type of "American Town Hall Meetings" to allow citizens the opportunity to discuss and review some of these plans and directions.

So it is fitting that, as we head into the second full year of our own strategic planning, we at Tulane should undergo a similar exercise. Our Tulane town hall meetings, which will be held downtown in the Medical School auditorium on Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. and uptown at the University Center's Kendall Cram Room on Oct. 12 at 1:30 p.m., will serve a similar purpose: to allow us an opportunity to review what we've accomplished in the past year, and particularly this past summer; to reflect on our objectives for the current year; and to address any questions that those in the Tulane community might have about events and directions at the university.

For example, in terms of our strategic plan, all of the schools and colleges have completed their own plans, which have now been consolidated into an overall plan for the university. Further, we have been able to take this consolidated plan and derive a set of funding needs, which have been translated into the framework for an upcoming capital campaign with a tentative goal of $650 million.

We will be discussing these developments in more detail at the meetings. We also have concluded the first round of Wall Fund awards. As you probably recall, last fall Tulane received an amazing unrestricted gift of $18 million from the estate of Lallage Feazel Wall of West Monroe, La. We earmarked a portion of the gift to energize our strategic plan, enabling us to provide funding for initiatives at the university that support the directives established by the plan.

At the town hall meetings, I will be talking about the first set of initiatives that have been funded from the Wall gift. It is an impressive group of projects and programs that I personally am excited about beginning at Tulane. I also will use the town hall meetings to update the university community on the progress of major searches that are under way.

As most of you are aware, we currently have searches open for the senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, the vice president for human resources, the director of the Tulane Primate Center, and the deans of the Law School, the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. These are key positions for the future of Tulane University, and I'm sure each member of the Tulane community will be interested in the progress of these searches.

The town hall meetings also will provide an opportunity to review objectives for this fiscal year. Where would we like to see Tulane University positioned a year from now, in whatever terms one cares to use as a measuring stick-in terms of our undergraduate and graduate and professional programs, our research programs, our community involvement, our ability to attract and retain the best faculty, staff and students?

Those are the types of questions we must answer with our stated objectives for the year. I hope all of you will set aside the time to attend one of the town hall meetings. If you aren't able to attend in person, I'm pleased to announce that there will be a Web simulcast accessible from the university's home page, where our faculty and staff in off-campus locations can watch the meeting as it happens. See you there!

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