Good news or bad news?
I will deviate from my usual unconditionally pro-tulane stance in order to offer you a researched analysis of the new Tulane policy. Some of you may know what this new Tulane policy is, but I fear that many of you haven’t even noticed that a change has taken place. This change isn’t just a minor tweak in the operation of the university policy, but according to President Scott Cowen it is “the most significant reinvention of a university in the
Let’s first take a look at the major changes: http://renewal.tulane.edu/background.shtml
Let me dispel the major rumor: they AREN’T cutting a ton of majors. They are making a bunch of minor changes in a lot of areas and a few really big structural changes, in areas that really don’t affect us. However, all of these changes serve to enhance the academic integrity of the university, and will not do anything to harm it.
Let’s first look at the assumptions of all this change. Tulane is acting in a way that will help mitigate its financial burden and cut expenses while establishing an opportunity to grow. I don’t expect any of the current people at Tulane to like the idea of these changes, because no one wants their undergraduate experience to be altered in any way. However, these changes won’t affect our experience at all. In fact, they will work to benefit the experiences of future students. We should look at these decisions as positive steps toward restoration of our old financial status as well as steps toward enhancing the academic quality of our remaining programs.
It seems that Tulane went ahead establishing these policies without consulting the student body. A few sources with whom I have spoken have indicated that Tulane moved forward with these major changes without input from any of the elected student representatives. This isn’t necessarily a big change from Tulane’s typical method of decision-making protocol. Apparently they, along with MOST colleges, tend to make decisions without major consultation with the student organizations. I don’t see why it would hurt to at least consult with the student government officials know what’s going on, even if they don’t get a big say. Not being a part of these organizations myself, I don’t have a lot to say about this particular aspect, but I know there are many who do. So let’s work toward that, Tulane administration.
Assuming you have read all the specifics, which are found here, I’m going to look at some of the major points and see how they may affect Tulane’s future.
Tulane’s biggest changes are the elimination of many engineering majors, layoffs of 230 faculty, elimination of the “coordinate system” and reduction of our involvement in the NCAA.
To begin with, the changes to the engineering majors is sad, it truly is. I mean, cutting five programs seems to be pretty drastic. But it isn’t a drastic move in any facet. I love all you engineers majors out there, but let me explain. The cuts will affect 229 undergrads, or 3% of all the undergraduates. That’s all. Tulane will, instead, save a ton of money and invest in programs that will help bring them academic recognition and, of course, federal funds (USAToday, 12/8/05). I'm sorry to you 229 undergrads, I truly am.
The next big change is that Tulane will now sponsor only six Division I intercollegiate athletics programs competing in eight sports. They will suspend the others. The changes will affect 100 students — one-third of student athletes. Athletic scholarships will be honored, and assistance will be given to those who wish to transfer (USAToday, 12/8/05). Since I don’t know a lot about NCAA sports, I contacted my friend Blake Rotor, who happens to be quite knowledgeable in this area. Blake writes: The sports situation is mainly a cost-cutting measure. It has been discussed for years that the athletic department loses a lot of money each year and there have been previous discussions about dropping out of division 1 all together, most recently in the spring of 2003. Tulane was granted a waiver from the NCAA for this catastrophe so that they don't have to abide by the membership requirements of being a Division 1 member, but the waiver is only good for 5 years. Normally, in order to be Division 1, a school must have 7 mens and 7 womens sports, or 6 mens & 8 womens, which is they way Tulane has been for 2 years now after the addition of women's swimming & diving, and the removal of men's track. There are also football attendance requirements to be D 1, but those are unimportant right now. Today, the school cut down to 4 mens teams and 4 womens teams which is far below the NCAA requirements. It is even below the requirements for being Division 3, like
Now for the layoffs. I believe this is a purely financial decision. Tulane just can’t afford to keep a ton of people on staff, and consequently the medical school will account for 180 of the 230 layoffs. The university said that it will concentrate on areas where it has attained, or has the potential to achieve, world-class excellence and "will suspend admission to those programs that do not meet these criteria." But the university did not immediately identify which programs that would mean (CNN.com, 12/8/05). We can infer that the money will be reinvested into programs that yield larger financial grants, and thus make a huge difference. I’m sad to see this program go. But when the time comes, I know it will be back.
About 86% of Tulane's 11,390 undergraduate students have registered for spring semester, just under the more typical 90% registration rate by this time of the year. (Take that naysayers). Freshman applications for next fall are up about 12% compared with this time last year (USAToday, 12/8/05). Tulane will be raising academic standards and shrinking the size of the incoming freshman class. However, tuition only accounts for 35% of Tulane's revenue (LA Times, 12/8/05). If we get a huge federal relief grant (which we will), this will more than make up for the loss in tuition as well as help pay for the cleanup effort of the school.
Other change to note- almost every single class at Tulane will be taught by a full-time faculty member. I can’t stress how beneficial that can be to our ability to learn a thing or two.
Additionally, Tulane will be getting rid of the “coordinate system.” This unique system split men and women in hypothetical colleges, respectively
The bottom line, Tulane faces a $200 million operating deficit and these new policies will help solve more than 25% of that. This is a step in a positive direction for more than just financial reasons. Clearly, Tulane has solidified measures that will substantially enhance their academic status. I believe that these academic changes will really do some good for the university, especially in the long term. Yes, some of the changes are pretty significant. Yes, change is a scary. But we all should have gotten used to change by now.