President Scott S. Cowen
October 2, 2001
Deans, Directors and Department Heads:
The tragic events of September 11th have caused all of us in organizational leadership positions to reassess our institutional priorities and goals for the immediate future until we have a better understanding of how the political, social and economic environment may change in the weeks and months ahead. In the last three weeks, I have spoken with dozens of organizational leaders from all sectors of the economy-higher education, industry, government and the independent sector-to determine how they are responding to current events. Two things are clear from my conversations. First, we are all very optimistic about the nation's long-term prospects. I believe this optimism is based on a realistic assessment of the current situation and likely future scenarios.
Second, there is also strong agreement that we all need to continue to make plans for progress in our organizations albeit at perhaps a more conservative pace and with a much greater degree of focus than we might have previously had in mind. In light of the above, I believe we need to follow a particularly prudent, focused approach toward the management of the university in the weeks and months ahead as we acquire greater clarity about how the external environment may change. For example, these events will likely affect our fund raising efforts this year. We might also find greater attrition among the current student body as well as realizing a more difficult time attracting next year's incoming class. With this uncertainty in mind, I have asked all the senior officers to review their priorities and goals for the year to determine what, if anything, should be changed and to assess what implications these changes may have on resource allocations and needs. In making this assessment, I have asked them to keep in mind that our highest institutional priority is our people. This includes the welfare of the existing faculty and staff, the well being of our students and the maintenance of a high quality academic environment. Consistent with this priority, the highest and best use of our resources for the immediate future should be in support of our people, and the university's very highest academic programs and priorities.
As needed, the senior officers, as well as the academic deans and administrative officers, will discuss any significant revisions in priorities/goals with others in the university. I do not anticipate any significant changes in the priorities/goals; however, I do expect we will narrow the scope of what we commit to do now versus what can be deferred to a later time. In keeping with this approach, I have also asked the senior officers to review budgeted salary and non-salary expenses for the remainder of the year with the people who report directly to them and those people, in turn, with their associates. We all need to examine our budgets to see if any resources should be reallocated to higher priority needs or deferred for the time being. The senior officers will assume responsibility for ensuring this evaluation process occurs.
I realize the successful implementation of the approach described above relies on the goodwill and cooperation of everyone in decision-making positions. I am counting on your assistance in this important process. A cautious and prudent spending approach seems particularly appropriate given the events of the last few weeks. The senior officers will provide updates of the results of their efforts at each President's Cabinet meeting. We will continually review the effectiveness and success of these efforts.
Tulane University is a vibrant and strong institution that is on a steady course to build on its already very solid foundation. This journey will definitely continue even though the implementation of our plan may be temporarily slowed down because of the tragic events of September 11th. However, at this time, a temporary realignment and focusing of priorities and resources does not affect our ability to realize the ten-year goals established for the university two years ago.
As always, I am prepared to address any questions you may have during the various forums I will be attending this fall.
Scott S. Cowen
Office of the President Emeritus, 1555 Poydras St, Suite 700, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-274-3638 firstname.lastname@example.org