President's Letter - August 9, 2001

Dear Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Friends:

undefinedSummer is upon us once again--time passes too quickly! On campus, everything is blooming and life is a bit more relaxed, but progress continues at a rapid pace.

As we finished up the spring semester and headed into summer, we were able to enjoy some extraordinary endings and anticipate some exciting beginnings.

First, the year ended with what will undoubtedly prove to be one of the most special commencement ceremonies Tulane has ever held. Not only did 2,200 incredibly bright and talented young people--and a few older ones--receive their degrees, but our universitywide ceremony in the Louisiana Superdome on May 20 was one of those occasions where serendipity conspires to make a memorable experience. I wish I could say that we had planned it, but it was sheer coincidence that all three of the day's speakers--Class of 2001 speaker Hamilton Simons-Jones, commencement speaker and Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman and myself--spoke on a single theme of community involvement, social awareness, personal priorities and making a better world. It was an important message, and one that all of our new graduates--as well as their families and friends--responded to enthusiastically. Two of the speeches can be found in the summer issue of Tulanian. I hope you'll enjoy taking a look at them.

undefinedThe school year had another exciting ending a few weeks later as the Tulane Green Wave baseball team ended an amazing 56-13 season, the best record in the nation. After winning the Conference USA title, the Wave defeated arch-rival Louisiana State University in a series of games at Zephyr Field in New Orleans. They played before the largest crowd ever gathered for a baseball game in the state of Louisiana. The only thing that could top that was, of course, the team's subsequent trip to the College World Series in Omaha in mid-June. Tulane's first appearance in the CWS didn't find the team in the finals, but they did make it to the second round and had the satisfaction of eliminating the hometown favorite Nebraska Cornhuskers before losing to Cal State-Fullerton. I know you'll join me in congratulating a group of fine young student-athletes, their coach, Rick Jones, and his staff on a spectacular season.

I mentioned earlier that this summer marked a time of both special endings and exciting beginnings. One set of beginnings has to do with the new round of Wall Fund awards we announced this spring. These awards support the educational and research interests of our faculty by building on existing or potential university strengths. This round of awards focused on the areas of computational science, chemical science, a regional humanities center, biochemistry, an ethics and public affairs institute, genetic research and clinical research. Our faculty continues to do incredibly interesting work, and I am extraordinarily proud of the areas of excellence we are developing.

Other beginnings at Tulane this year have to do with a number of new faces who will be joining the Tulane family in the coming weeks, filling key positions that will be instrumental in helping Tulane move forward in achieving our strategic goals.

undefinedOn July 1, we welcomed Lester A. Lefton to Tulane as the university's senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. Lester comes to us from The George Washington University, where he was dean of the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences. This is a key position at Tulane, serving as the senior academic officer responsible for overseeing the university's 10 deans and more than 500 faculty on its uptown campus, as well as the university's graduate school, libraries and international programs.

July 1 also marked the beginning of a new era in the Tulane Law School as Lawrence Ponoroff began his new role as dean. Larry is Tulane's Mitchell Franklin Professor of Private and Commercial Law, and previously served as vice dean of the law school. Prior to joining the Tulane faculty in 1994, he was professor of law and associate dean for academic affairs and administration at the University of Toledo College of Law.

This fall, we will be welcoming a new dean to the Tulane University School of Medicine. Ian Logan Taylor, currently professor and chair of the medicine department at the Medical University of South Carolina and president of University Medical Associates at the University of South Carolina, will take the position of dean of the Tulane University School of Medicine on Sept. 1.

In October, we will welcome Andrew Lackner to Tulane as director of the Tulane Regional Primate Research Center. Andrew will join the center from his position as associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the comparative pathology division of the New England Regional Primate Center, one of the premier centers of its kind in the country.

I welcome these new leaders to Tulane, and look forward to working with each of them. There are other changes in the works as well. English faculty member Cynthia Lowenthal has accepted the acting deanship of Newcomb College following the departure of Valerie Greenberg this past spring, and we are in the final stages of a search for a vice president for technology and chief information officer. I also recently announced that Suzanne England, dean of the Tulane School of Social Work, is leaving us for the deanship of the Ehrenkranz School of Social Work at New York University.

undefinedThough it is neither a coming nor a going, I also would like to let you know about a special honor received by Tulane chemistry professor Chao-Jun Li. In late June, Professor Li received one of only five prestigious Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards from the Environmental Protection Agency. The other four awards went to businesses. The Green Chemistry Challenge Awards honor work that results in environmentally sound methods to produce goods; Professor Li has developed a way in which water, rather than benzene or other toxic liquids, can act as a solvent in chemical processes used to create products by the petrochemical, pharmaceutical, plastics and other industries. Professor Li's work is a tremendous example of the quality and import of the research going on throughout Tulane University.

Before we know it, the summer will have flown by and it will be time to begin another semester at Tulane. It should prove to be an exciting one as we reap the benefits of another significant increase in applications for this fall's first-year class. We anticipate another strong class with the best academic credentials (SATs and high school rank) in Tulane history.

Finally, I'd like to thank all of you for your support this past year. We are extremely pleased to have realized another year of significant increases in the number of donors and private giving to the university. Your support is critical in our efforts to continually enhance the reputation, quality and visibility of Tulane University.


Scott S. Cowen

P.S. About the time school starts, on Aug. 25, you'll have an opportunity to catch Tulane's first-ever preseason football game versus Brigham Young University on ESPN2. On Sept. 1, the Wave will take on cross-state rival Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, the first meeting of the two clubs in football since 1996. Hope to see you there!

Office of the President Emeritus, 1555 Poydras St, Suite 700, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-274-3638