October 9, 2002
Understand, it's a tough economy out there," said Tulane President Scott Cowen in his talk to the Staff Advisory Council's first meeting for 2002-2003 at the health sciences center on Sept. 12. Accepting the council's invitation to comment on the state of the university, Cowen assured the group that even though the economy is not in good shape, Tulane is doing relatively well.
According to Cowen, the economy has taken a bad beating from the war on terror, continuing uncertainty in the Mideast, the specter of war with Iraq and high-level corporate scandals, and it's not likely to recover very quickly. Despite the general economic gloom, however, Tulane remains strong. The institution's endowment has not taken the big hit that many other colleges and universities suffered with the recent slump of the financial markets, Cowen said. Another key factor is that Tulane has been very effective in the area of fund raising.
"We had a very, very good year in an unbelievably tough market, the second best year in the history of the institution," said Cowen. "Sixty-six million dollars, record numbers in the Annual Fund and donors I'm extremely pleased." In general, Tulane has been financially conservative, and the result is the "good financial news that we're stable," said Cowen.
"The next 12 to 24 months, from an economic point of view, are going to be tough," he said. "Not a day goes by that we don't read about layoffs. "But if you ask me today if I envision any layoffs at the institution, I do not envision that. It's my hope we can do this without any layoffs, and still give raises," Cowen said.
In his talk, Cowen also focused on several areas in which significant changes at Tulane are under way. In the area of undergraduate edu-cation, he said, Tulane is making big strides. The university is experiencing a boom in the number of applications it receives, together with an increase in the quality of the students who are applying. In conjunction with this, the current U.S. News and World Report's guide to the top national universities in the country has moved Tulane up from 46th last year to 43rd in this year's rankings.
"I knew that it would take several years for some of our new programs to kick in and be reflected in the ratings," Cowen said. Tulane's plan to construct new buildings and renovate existing ones is proceeding on track, according to Cowen. Some $90 million worth of projects are under way or planned on the uptown campus including the business school addition, renovation of the University Center and construction of several new residence halls.
Some 100, 000 square feet of new space will be provided downtown for the health sciences center. Financial planning for these building projects is typical of Tulane's conservative approach, according to Cowen. "We have safeguards in place that no new building will be built if we have to take money out of the operating budget to get it built," he said. "No ground will be broken before we have 75 percent of the money raised and financing plans in place for the remaining amount."
Meet the new Staff Advisory Council officers in the Oct. 15 issue of Inside Tulane.
Arthur Nead may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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