September 19, 2008

Good Morning:

As I worked in my office this week it was very comforting to look out on the quad crowded with students and sense that old, familiar start-of-the-semester bustle happening again on all of our campuses.

As I viewed scenes such as this, I also kept in mind our neighbors in Texas and Louisiana who bore the brunt of Hurricane Ike. I called the presidents of our fellow institutions in Houston and Galveston and offered any assistance we could give. Many of our senior officers contacted their counterparts at these institutions as well. Likewise, our alumni office has reached out to Tulanians in affected parts of Louisiana.

Disasters like Ike, Gustav and Katrina were part of the agenda at the ServiceNation Summit I attended last week in New York. This summit, which appropriately began on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, brought together 500 leaders from every sector of American life who are committed to unleashing the power of service to meet America's greatest social challenges.

The goal of the ServiceNation Summit is to enroll 100 million citizens as volunteers in schools, workplaces, faith-based organizations and community institutions by 2020. Summit organizers also hope to increase the number of Americans who will commit a year of their lives to national service. You can learn more about the ServiceNation Summit and make a commitment of your own by visiting

The summit began with senators McCain and Obama speaking about the role of citizenship and service in post-9/11 America. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed the attendees and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the first governor to have a cabinet post dedicated to service, gave one of the closing addresses, as did Sen. Hillary Clinton.

At the luncheon I briefly spoke about Tulane's commitment to heal New Orleans by working with the community to establish a series of Community Health Centers throughout the city. These centers, two of which have already opened along with three mobile units and an adolescent outreach program, will provide high quality, low-cost health care for all New Orleanians regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.

These neighborhood centers also will offer afterschool, literacy and job training programs and provide our students with an unprecedented service opportunity. Besides the luncheon address, I was also on a panel discussion that focused on the role of civic engagement during a time of disaster.

The summit was an amazing experience. I'm convinced my participation was the result of your and Tulane's focus on public service and civic engagement. It also became very clear to me at this summit that Tulane has emerged as the leader among major research universities in these areas. Virtually every person I spoke with made a point of telling me of their respect for Tulane and the role it is playing in advancing the ethos of public service in the next generation of leaders. This is something of which we should be very proud.

Have a great weekend,


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