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A Video Message from President Fitts

April 5, 2020

President Fitts talks about the difficulty of being isolated during the pandemic. He also shares his pride in the Tulane family as we face the challenges of navigating through this crisis together, as one.


I want to thank everybody for joining me here on the Academic Quad at Tulane University. We're now three weeks in of working, teaching, and learning from home, and it really has been a seamless process transforming the university.

I know there's been lots of bumps in the road, lots of changes along the way, but everybody has adapted so well. I'm so impressed and so proud of the entire Tulane community. But I know all of you have a sense at this point of missing the community, a sense of isolation. I know for me that one of my greatest joys at Tulane is being able to walk up McAlister walk and going across the campus, the LBC, sitting in on classes, just spending time with the Tulane community, and I can't do that. And I miss it, I miss it terribly.

I know you all miss hanging out with friends whether you're faculty, staff, alumni. It's that isolation that I know makes so much of a difference. I appreciate that, and for me I have to say I miss spending time with my daughters who are on the East Coast. One's a medical resident, the other a journalist and they're right in the center of all this COVID-19. We all, in a sense, are responding to these really special, unique circumstances.

I've been trying to think about how to encapsulate all this and I came across a piece in the Harvard Business Review that for me, at least, captured the feelings. This is by David Kessler, who wrote: "We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn't feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Things will change, and this is the point at which they change. The loss of normalcy, the fear of economic toll, the loss of connection. This is hitting us, and we're grieving collectively."

I know this is both a medical emergency - we have friends who have been touched by this, some of our friends have passed away – it's an economic emergency, it's a financial emergency, it's a personal emergency. And all those things have come together, and come together in a time when we feel isolated.

So what I wanted to say to all the members of the community here at Tulane:  you're doing great. Give yourselves a break and understand you are stepping up to the plate. I hear hundreds of stories about how individuals have in a sense helped each other, reached out to each other, and responded. I know it can be difficult, I know we're all dealing with these emergencies in different ways. And of course, people react to the uncertainty in this situation in all sorts of different ways.

But we're going to get through this, and Tulane in particular, and the Tulane community is so knowledgeable and adept at dealing with in the sense emergencies like this. I'm so proud of how we've responded in this situation. So I did want to say please continue to send your stories in to me, so that I can read about what's going on.

We have the “Heroes & Helpers” who we are going to profile, the people who really stood up in circumstances like this, reached out the community. And that can be doctors, it can be nurses, it could be police officers, anybody in the community who has really shown sort of an extra commitment to their colleagues and friends at this moment in time.

And please continue to follow me on Instagram and Twitter to see all the different ways this community is responding. So thank you all. I usually say at the end of something like this "Roll Wave," but I think those terms have special meaning at a time like this...so Roll Wave.