With spring graduation ceremonies canceled or postponed, many class of 2020 graduates are disappointed that their official graduation day won’t be recognized the way they had anticipated. “That walk across a stage was earned through four (in my case, five) years of hard work and panic attacks — just to be taken away within a blink of an eye,” said Loyola University senior Christian Willbern in an Uptown Messenger column. While few deny the public health necessity of closing colleges, it was heart-rendering for many seniors to be abruptly banished from their campuses in the final months of their final year. Universities are finding ways to commemorate the day, often through virtual ceremonies to be followed by a delayed ceremony. Tulane University’s virtual ceremony marking the conferment of degrees to the class of 2020 will take place May 16.
In a few weeks, I was supposed to get up at 7 a.m., put on a starchy cap and gown, and walk across a stage in front of hundreds of people to receive an empty diploma sleeve. While that sounds more revolting than Burger King’s 2002 green ketchup, I was inexplicably looking forward to it. Many of my fellow seniors were. That walk across a stage was earned through four (in my case, five) years of hard work and panic attacks — just to be taken away within a blink of an eye. Instead, now, I am using hand sanitizer my dad made with baby lotion from the 1990s.
Students, faculty, and staff at Tulane received an email last Wednesday that said classes will cease or go online, and those living on campus are to leave in the next week and a half. However fracturing to our semesters, this move came as no surprise and with little resentment from students. Tulane is largely a flight school that draws many of its students from Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, and our friends at schools across the country had been sent home throughout the week. There is also a sense of gratefulness on campus — our university is offering emergency housing and food, and most of us have the opportunity to go home if it becomes suddenly necessary. Students recognize that we are in a beautiful city that is not being hit as hard as many other metropolises in the United States — metropolises that many Tulanians come from.
From the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice
A new study from an education research center based at Tulane University finds that New Orleans’ all-charter school system succeeds in removing low-performing teachers, but it struggles to replace them with high-performing ones. The study by National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice, or REACH, cuts to the heart of the debate over whether market-based school reforms help improve teacher quality. In New Orleans, all schools are charters with great freedom to hire and fire teachers. Schools also compete with one another for talent and are under intense pressure to raise student test scores. Advocates of market-based reforms argue that this combination of flexibility and accountability should encourage schools to remove ineffective teachers.
Two Loyola University students and a faculty member went into a 14-day self-quarantine on March 10, at the request of the university, after attending a journalism conference and having lunch at a downtown restaurant with an individual who was later diagnosed with COVID-19 novel coronavirus. The students and professor have not displayed any symptoms, Loyola President Tania Tetlow said in a March 11 letter to the Loyola community announcing that all classes will taught online for the rest of the spring semester beginning Monday (March 16). Tetlow said the potential exposure was not the reason behind suspending on-campus classes. Tulane, Xavier, UNO and other local universities also have moved their classes online as more coronavirus cases are announced in New Orleans. “I have spoken to the director of state public health, who tells me that there is not a reason to broaden that circle more widely — those who later interacted with the faculty and students do not also need to self-isolate,” Tetlow said in the letter.
The New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University has canceled its inaugural event for 2020, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and adherence to university protocol. Tickets purchased for keynote addresses with John Grisham, Michael Lewis and Malcolm Gladwell will be fully refunded within 10 business days. The book festival had planned to run March 19-21, and festival organizers estimated around 30,000 visitors would attend the three-day event on Tulane’s uptown campus. However, the top priority for the festival organizers is that of the health and safety of the general public, authors, volunteers and Tulane’s faculty, staff and students. On Wednesday afternoon, Tulane University announced it would reduce the concentration of people on campus by conducting classes online beginning March 23 and through the end of the semester, reducing the number of gatherings and eliminating non-essential travel.
Food historian, educator, and author Zella Palmer will present her recently published “Recipes and Remembrances of Fair Dillard, 1869-2019” this Sunday, March 8. Using recipes and research, Palmer’s book documents the African American culinary history of New Orleans through the lens of Dillard University. She will be signing copies of her work for 2 p.m. at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St. The event page describes the collection as follows:
This cookbook shares over eighty years of international and indigenous New Orleans Creole recipes collected from the community, friends of the university, campus faculty, staff, and students, providing readers with a glimpse into the rich food culture of African-Americans in New Orleans. Recipes and Remembrances of Fair Dillard is dedicated to Dillard University alumni, faculty, staff, friends, and family who enjoyed past campus festivals, dinners, picnics, Monday red beans and rice with fried chicken, and Friday fish frys in Kearny Dining.
Four Lusher Charter School seniors have been named Posse Scholars, an honor that provides them with full-tuition college scholarships. Two of the students, Esperanza Milla and Allan Buezo, plan to stay in New Orleans and attend Tulane University. India Miller is heading to Villanova University in Pennsylvania, and Kayla Red will attend Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. The four Posse Scholars were chosen for their leadership potential. The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits and trains individuals to become tomorrow’s leaders.
The New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University announced today the daily lineups of more than 100 celebrated and rising authors for its inaugural weekend, March 19-21 on Tulane University’s Uptown campus. The book festival is free and open to the public with the exception of three keynote author sessions, which include a pair of opening-night events on Thursday, March 19, with “Michael Lewis in Conversation with Sean Tuohy,” from 5 to 6 p.m., and “A Conversation with John Grisham,” from 6 to 7 p.m. The author session on Saturday, March 20, will feature “Malcolm Gladwell in Conversation with Michael Lynton, Chairman of Snap Inc.,” from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
General admission tickets for Thursday and Saturday keynote events are $10 each. Students will be admitted free with a valid identification card. Click here to purchase tickets. All events will take place on Tulane’s Uptown campus, including the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life, McAlister Auditorium, Freeman Auditorium, Dixon Hall, Rogers Memorial Chapel and the Berger Family Lawn.
Writer Sarah Broom is from New Orleans, but not the part of New Orleans where she spoke on Tuesday (Feb. 4), the famed, oak-lined streets of Uptown. She’s from a yellow house on Wilson Avenue in New Orleans East. Her experience in that house — and what it says about New Orleans, the United States, and our relationship to our environment — is the subject of her debut book “The Yellow House: A Memoir.” It won the 2019 National Book Award for nonfiction. Broom was interviewed in Woldenberg Art Center on Tulane University’s Uptown campus by Atlantic staff writer Van Newkirk, another potent investigator of place and environment.
Tulane University’s Howard-Tilton Memorial Library has acquired the complete archives of famed best-selling New Orleans author Anne Rice, thanks to a gift from Stuart Rose and the Stuart Rose Family Foundation. Born and raised in New Orleans — the setting of her most famous books — Rice is the author of 30 novels with more than 100 million copies sold, placing her among the most popular authors in recent American history. Rice’s work has included gothic and erotic fiction, as well as Christian literature, but she is best known for her novels in vampire and supernatural fiction. “That Tulane has provided a home for my papers is exciting and comforting,” said Rice, a former Garden District resident who grew up on St. Charles Avenue.