January 7, 2005

Good morning:

Thanks to all of you for the many thoughtful, creative and forward-looking ideas you sent in response to my request for suggestions on how we, as a university community, can help alleviate the human suffering caused by last week's tsunami. From your suggestions, members of the senior administration and I have outlined several steps Tulane University will undertake to assist in the relief and recovery efforts now underway in the tsunami-ravaged areas.

  • First, we will continue to identify and encourage existing relief initiatives by many of our school and colleges. I was gratified to learn from your e-mails and my colleagues how much Tulane-sponsored relief work is already underway. For example, the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is dispatching disaster relief experts to the tsunami-hit areas for collaboration with the relief agency World Vision. Tulane’s Payson Center for International Development, which operates a summer program in Sri Lanka, is also heavily involved in relief efforts and more than 300 Tulane-trained health professionals are assisting in the region. These are just a few of the many relief efforts employing Tulane expertise currently underway. Our goal now is to identify all such sources throughout the university and make certain they have the utmost support to coordinate and maximize the effectiveness of their efforts.
  • Upon the return of our students to campus next week we will work through the Office of Student Affairs to encourage students to sponsor events in support of the relief effort. In addition to fund drives these activities might include alternative Spring Breaks, in which students volunteer to work on relief efforts either in the region or at home. We also plan to sponsor lectures and discussions to educate our students on the history and culture of the affected regions so they can better understand the physical, emotional and psychological issues related to disasters such as this.
  • Knowing the generosity of the Tulane community, we also want to encourage our administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni to offer any financial help within their means. A great site listing qualified and reputable relief agencies is:
  • We also plan to create our own web site that will serve as a compendium of all Tulane-sponsored relief operations and keep the community informed of our efforts.
  • Finally, we will continue to monitor events, convening within 30 days a meeting of faculty and senior administration knowledgeable about disaster recovery who can help establish a university response plan for relief in this current tragedy as well as ones in the future.

The above is a broad framework of the efforts we will undertake. Much more will be done on both an institutional and individual level. Let’s hope that these endeavors help mitigate a measure of the epic suffering that has been visited upon this region of our world, an area that many members of the Tulane community call home, an area in all of our thoughts and prayers.


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