October 16, 2009

Good Morning:

This week turned out to be particularly interesting and exciting because of President Obama's visit to New Orleans. I was honored to be among a small group of local leaders who met face-to-face with the president prior to his Town Hall Meeting yesterday at UNO. I thanked the president for the vital role the federal government continues to play in our recovery. In his public comments he remarked that the improvement in New Orleans' public educational system is probably the most dramatic he has seen anywhere in the country, a view shared by Education Secretary Arne Duncan earlier that morning. I really appreciated that observation, knowing how big a role Tulane has had in this transformation. I told the president that I hoped New Orleans might serve as a model of transformation for other cities throughout the country.

I joined Secretary Duncan on a visit to John McDonogh High School to discuss the transformation of public education in New Orleans. Secretary Duncan engaged the students in a discussion of their experiences. It is so wonderful to see the hope and energy of these young people as their school begins to register steady improvement. I also had the chance to meet separately with senior advisers traveling with the president, including HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley.

I concluded the day by accompanying Melody Barnes, director of the president's Domestic Policy Council, and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu on a visit to Café Reconcile, which provides youth from at-risk communities with the experience and interpersonal skills for a successful career in the hospitality and restaurant industries.

The Obama administration is very interested in learning about and supporting such innovative social programs. I was included in this tour because of Tulane's recognition as an institution devoted to civic engagement and social entrepreneurship, of which Café Reconcile, founded by the late Rev. Harry Tompson, is a prime example.

The day left me filled with gratitude, pride and hope for New Orleans' continued recovery and renewal and the Obama administration's commitment. Most of all I was honored to represent you and Tulane University on a national stage.

Have a great weekend,


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