When you walk out the back door of Gibson Hall at Tulane University, this is the sight that greets you. This part of New Orleans is on high ground, relatively speaking. They are fine. If you sit down to lunch at the cafeteria in Bruff Commons, you might even luck into some honest-to-God gumbo and hush puppies:
And if your luck holds, you might get to talk with some of the students of this world-class university. They know that even though they've told the story hundreds of times, that you'll want to ask them if they would tell it again. What was it like, last year, to be here? What is it like now?
And what you learn, as you listen, is that Tulane University had an evacuation plan that worked. And that the rest of the country's schools opened their doors and hearts to Tulane's students as it became clear that no one would be returning to New Orleans anytime soon. But that when they had the chance, they came back. Ninety-four percent of the students who were expected to return did just that. This percentage, this rate of return, was HIGHER than it was the year before.
And when Tulane did re-open, despite the sobering magnitude of the work ahead, the mood on campus was triumphant. As the largest private employer in the city, Tulane knows that it can be an important source of revitalizing energy to a battered city. And to a person, the students, faculty, and staff of Tulane stand ready to rise to that challenge. "This is a great school, but there are lots of great schools. What makes this different is that this is a moment in time," said one of the students we spoke with as the others nodded in agreement. "This is Atlanta after the Civil War. This is San Francisco after the 1906 fire. This is our chance to be part of something bigger than ourselves."
Kind of makes you want to be a part of it, doesn't it?