Photo of light streaming through oak trees on the uptown campus
Survival to Renewal
Tulane University


On August 29, 2005 New Orleans and the Gulf South experienced the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States. The damage to and labored recovery of the city of New Orleans has been well documented; much less has been said about the damage to the city's largest employer, Tulane University, and to our future viability as a leading American university and vital economic engine for the city, state and region.

The leadership of Tulane University has used the recovery period following Hurricane Katrina to take a hard look at the storm's immediate and future financial impact and how we can reshape and renew the university to respond to that impact. What must not be lost as we respond to our post-Katrina economic situation are our long-term goals:

• Diligence in retaining our institutional quality and working to heighten that quality;

• Dedication to providing an unparalleled, holistic undergraduate experience for our students;

• Continued strengthening of core research areas and graduate programs that build on our strengths and can achieve world class excellence; and

• An absolute commitment to using the lessons learned from Katrina to help rebuild the city of New Orleans and to then extend those lessons to other communities.

Toward this end, we have developed a Renewal Plan that details the steps we must take in order to achieve financial viability in the post-Katrina environment while remaining true to the long-term goals of the university, advancing Tulane's status in the higher education community, strengthening our ties to and support of the city of New Orleans and maximizing our efficiency.

Major elements of the plan follow.


Tulane has long been committed to providing an unparalleled undergraduate experience as well as continuing to attract and retain the brightest and most gifted students.

• We realize that at post-Katrina Tulane, the size of our incoming first-year classes may be smaller. Rather than lower our admission standards in order to admit more students, we will maintain our academic standards by becoming smaller yet stronger.

• We will enhance our undergraduate experience by requiring all full-time faculty to teach undergraduate classes, providing students with the excitement of learning from senior faculty members.

• We will take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities in community-building resulting from Hurricane Katrina by requiring all students entering in Fall '06 and after to participate in community-service work and help to rebuild the city of New Orleans, prior to graduation.

• Our professional schools will augment their current programs to increase interaction with undergraduate students.

• And, finally, the Tulane undergraduate experience will be strengthened as we accelerate development of a residential college system by requiring all first- and second-year students to live on campus in residential communities that include academic programming, co-curricular activities and oversight by Tulane faculty members and their families.


As historic and organic institutions, universities traditionally grow to meet the needs of changing academic climates and social developments. As a result, most universities have very large and complex organizational structures. The economic pressures caused by Hurricane Katrina required Tulane to examine every part of our organizational structure and look at ways the academic areas could be reorganized. We must maximize organizational efficiency and at the same time become a smaller university more focused on areas in which we have established strengths.

• The Faculty of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering will be reorganized into two schools: the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Science and Engineering. A total of five programs—Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Exercise and Sports Science—will be eliminated. Students in these programs will have the opportunity to continue their studies at Tulane if they can finish degree requirements by May 2007. Otherwise, they will be offered assistance in selecting another major at Tulane or transferring to another institution.

• All full-time undergraduates will enter the university through a newly created Undergraduate College. This new college will coordinate all undergraduate initiatives, simplify and clarify the academic organization and consolidate the undergraduate administrative structure. As such, the college will oversee core curriculum and work with the other schools to define core and major requirements for degree. The college will also oversee general undergraduate advising.

• Since all undergraduates will be enrolled in the Undergraduate College outlined above, a Board of Tulane task force has been charged with redefining how the Newcomb College and Tulane College names and endowments will be used to support the new structure while also acknowledging those colleges' important historic ties to Tulane University.


Tulane will enhance professional and graduate programs in which it already has proven strengths and in which there is the greatest potential for success.

• Tulane will focus its energy and resources in graduate-level programs that have demonstrated ability to be world-class and, in the sciences and engineering, have the proven ability to obtain competitively awarded grant funding. Supervision of graduate programs will fall within the various schools and colleges, with oversight by an associate senior vice president for research. The university will focus on and provide additional support to its doctoral programs and research in areas where it has attained or is in the process of achieving world-class excellence. Students in affected programs will have the opportunity to continue their studies at Tulane if they can finish degree requirements by May 2007. Otherwise, they can be reassigned to another program or they will be offered assistance in transferring to another institution.

• Graduate and professional students will find their collegiate experience enhanced by expanded public service and extracurricular activities being planned by the deans of the School of Social Work, the School of Law, the School of Architecture, the A.B. Freeman School of Business, the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the School of Medicine.


In the future, Tulane will be defined, in part, by its unique relationship with the culturally rich and diverse city of New Orleans, and by the city's recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Tulane will also be shaped by its relationship with other institutions of higher education in the city.

•  A newly created program—The Partnership for the Transformation of Urban Communities—will support educational, outreach and research programs of national and international relevance stemming from the Hurricane Katrina experience, and further the growth in urban studies that Tulane has been pursuing for a number of years. Its focus will be on transforming and sustaining healthy communities locally, regionally and around the world. This intra- and inter-university partnership is unique in America.

•  Issues that the Partnership might address include race and poverty, social justice, educational policies and strategies for public school systems and the physical development of urban communities.

•  Tulane will seek to transform its current partnership with Dillard and Xavier universities into a nationally known and respected example of academic collaboration between a major research university and two Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This effort will strengthen all three of our institutions individually and collectively, will accelerate Tulane's ongoing diversity efforts and will ultimately prove to be a model for other universities to follow.


In light of the changing healthcare landscape in New Orleans, Tulane will rethink the mission and strategy of the School of Medicine.

•  The School of Medicine's educational programs will return to New Orleans for the fall 2006 semester.

•  The university's medical enterprise will be refocused with added emphasis on the School of Medicine's research and educational programs with the aspiration of positioning the School of Medicine among the top NIH-funded institutions in the country.

•  The university's clinical operations will be downsized in response to the changing environment in New Orleans. This new platform will provide a strong academic core for the future by forging a closer link between the university's strengths in research and its clinical focus, and allow the School of Medicine to rebuild based on the healthcare needs of our community and region in the future.


Because of financial issues caused by Hurricane Katrina, the NCAA has assured the university of its support to secure a five-year exemption from meeting both NCAA Division I-A and Conference USA membership criteria.

•  Beginning in fall 2006, Tulane will have six Division I-A programs—football, men and women's basketball, baseball, women's volleyball, and women's track—which will compete in eight sports.

•  Tulane will honor athletic scholarships for all eligible student-athletes in suspended programs and assist those who wish to transfer.

•  The university will form a task force in January to develop a renewal strategy for intercollegiate athletics based on the recovery of New Orleans and the university.


The university will continue to reconfigure, and in some cases, reduce its school-based and shared-service administrative functions. In making these decisions, the relevance and cost effectiveness of the administrative functions will be evaluated against the university's mission and size.


The changes to Tulane University outlined in the Renewal Plan, which received Board of Tulane approval on December 8, 2005 are far-reaching and dramatic. Some aspects of the plan are being implemented immediately, while others are still being finalized.

But as far-reaching as the changes are, their impact will reverberate in a positive way through future years. A smaller but much stronger and more focused Tulane University will lead the way in helping to rebuild New Orleans and will serve as a model for other institutions of higher education seeking to refocus their resources and energy in order to have the maximum impact on their communities and on our world.