Letter from President-Elect Michael Fitts

May 19, 2014

Dear Members of the Class of 2018,

As incoming president of Tulane University, I am happy to extend an enthusiastic welcome to the class of 2018. I am honored to have been selected to lead this great institution, and I look forward to experiencing it with all of you for the first time this fall.
I am especially proud to be part of an institution where opportunities to learn and to engage with the world around you are not restricted to the classroom. Each year, Tulane asks the entering class to read an acclaimed novel or work of non-fiction to frame their first year experience under the auspices of the Tulane Reading Project. While many schools nationwide offer a first-year reading program, the Tulane Reading Project has generally eschewed the more common book choices in favor of books that particularly resonate here in New Orleans, your home for at least the next four years.

This year’s book is Hope Against Hope: Three Schools, One City, and the Struggle to Educate America's Children, by award-winning education reporter Sarah Carr. Through an intimate look at the personal stories and experiences of a student, a teacher, and a principal, Hope Against Hope explores the highly publicized reinvention of the New Orleans school system after Hurricane Katrina, and its implications for the national debate over school reform. Many of you will find yourselves working on a service project in a New Orleans public school at some point in your Tulane career. Sarah Carr’s book provides the kind of context that we hope will help you approach your service with a deeper understanding of the daily struggles faced by students, teachers, and administrators in the New Orleans public school system.  
No matter what your academic interests, I am confident that you will find Hope Against Hope to be a compelling read, and that you will look forward to the opportunity to discuss it with your fellow students this fall.

Free copies of the book will be distributed to all students attending the June orientation sessions. In July, we will mail the book to those of you who were unable to visit campus in June.

This fall, we will offer a series of events exploring Hope Against Hope and the themes that it addresses. We especially look forward to welcoming author Sarah Carr for our keynote lecture on Wednesday, September 10. Be sure to check your email for an invitation to join online discussions about the book, moderated by Tulane faculty. Please also visit the Events and Activities page on the Reading Project website for a schedule of events, which will be updated throughout the summer as additional events are scheduled. And check the Materials and Resources page for additional materials pertinent to the book, such as guidelines for discussion and other web-based resources.
I hope that you will enjoy reading Hope Against Hope before you arrive on campus. The Tulane community looks forward to meeting each of you in August and engaging with you in your first intellectual experience as Tulane students. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Michael A. Fitts

Newcomb-Tulane College Programs, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5728