March 15, 2020
Tulane President Mike Fitts shares an important update with the Tulane community as it relates to COVID-19. For more information, visit emergency.tulane.edu.
Hi, everyone. This is my first of what will be a regular video message to the Tulane community.
Let me begin by addressing the entire Tulane family—thank you! From the bottom of my heart, I want to tell each and every one of you how grateful I am for your dedication and for your commitment—not only to Tulane, but to each other. The last several days have been filled with anxiety, uncertainty, sadness, and even fear. As we temporarily bid farewell to one another and the place we love so deeply—our community has rallied around and supported each other like only Tulanians can. The many decisions that we've had to make to keep our community safe have been difficult but they are entirely focused on keeping this community as safe as possible and you continue to inspire me with your strength and with your bravery.
To our amazingly brilliant students—I know the events leading up to this moment have been tough on you. We have all experienced great loss—particularly those of you who knew and loved Raymond, the student who tragically died this week. My heart goes out to all of his friends and family in this very difficult time.
Wherever you are in your Tulane journey, undergraduate or graduate, I know the collective feelings of loss and sadness are compounded by the difficulty of leaving campus on short notice. You will also need to navigate the new reality of virtual learning without the face-to-face intellectual discussions. And I know you will be missing out on the simpler joys of spring at Tulane—Crawfest, picnics at the fly, festival season. You have all displayed great strength and courage during this period. Thank you for patience as we shift to this temporary “new normal.” Now, more than ever, we must continue to find ways to connect as a community. We all must reach out constantly to check on classmates, colleagues and loved ones.
To the Class of 2020—I deeply regret that this happened during your last few months at Tulane. Please know that we will do our absolute best to give you a wonderful commencement that is deserving of your phenomenal class. We live in a moment of great uncertainty but I assure you we will make every conceivable effort, public health permitting, to hold commencement in Yulman Stadium in May.
To the faculty—thank you for finding new ways to engage with your students online. I know this is especially challenging since one of the things that makes Tulane truly great is the time spent in the classroom. Over the past few days, I have heard numerous stories about the creative, engaging ways you have worked to ensure we provide the highest quality virtual instruction. I know that takes a lot of effort in adapting your pedagogical approaches. I appreciate all of you, and I am grateful for your efforts.
To our dedicated staff—Thank you for working around the clock to keep our community safe and healthy, while continuing to support the educational mission of Tulane. I know this is an incredibly difficult and frightening time for you. Please know that Tulane is committed to supporting you in every way we can during this period. While the vast majority of our employees will be working remotely over the next month, I thank you in advance for your willingness to adjust to these temporary changes. You have been on the frontlines of making Tulane one of the best run universities in the world. I know that this will remain true as you continue to support our students and faculty in this ever-changing environment.
And to our physicians, researchers, and public health experts—you are the public face of the daily battle against this pandemic. Day in, day out, you are dealing with an increasing number of patients who present a variety of symptoms. As I speak, I know many of you are working tirelessly to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Thank you for all that you are doing to keep our community—and communities around the world—healthy and safe.
As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, we've had to make some difficult decisions to rise to the challenge. Fortunately, rising to the challenge is baked into our DNA. Tulane was founded in 1834 to combat the yellow fever pandemic. 186 years later, we are again firing on all cylinders to tackle COVID-19. Tulane is a global leader in this fight and I am honored and grateful to be on the front lines with all of you.
There is nothing like Tulane—our spirit is resilient. We will overcome this together and I look forward to keeping you posted on our progress. As I said earlier, I plan to send you regular updates to keep you posted on everything happening at Tulane. Until then, please stay in touch with each other—online and by phone, if not in person. I miss all of you already. I can't wait until we are all back together again. Stay healthy and stay safe.