Tulane University Reaches Record Early Decision Applications

Tulane University has become the preferred university for a rising number of the United State’s top students. Since the program was launched in 2016, Early Decision admissions applications have risen 35% of the last year and have doubled since the program launch according to undergraduate admissions data.

Tulane President Mike Fitts said. “Tulane’s growing academic reputation, its innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum, its world-class faculty, its unique academic structure and its location in one of the nation’s most culturally rich cities are some of the many reasons that Tulane is becoming the first-choice, dream school for so many students. We’re also ‘right-sized.’ We’re large enough to support a major research mission, yet small enough to foster one-on-one mentor relationships between students and faculty.”

Tulane’s vice president of enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admission, Satyajit Dattagupta, projects that in 2024, about half the class of the first-year students this fall, will be Early Decision applicants. If a student is accepted as an Early Decision applicant, they agree to enroll in the school they were accepted, which means turning down any offers from other universities.

“Tulane is a brand that is recognized nationally and worldwide. It’s one of the best investments students can make, because the return is exponentially higher than the investment.” said Satyajit Dattagupta.

He also stated that today’s students require a higher level of standard from their preferred colleges and universities. Students who excelled in school have more options for their higher education, and want to be sure that universities live up to their projected standard. Of the accepted Early Decision applicants, about 10% will be international students, which demonstrates another area of growth for the university.

“It’s not surprising, but very reassuring to see that students consider Tulane as their first preference,” he added.

Overall, Tulane has seen a rise in undergraduate applications, with more than 43,000 applications for the incoming fall semester. This is up from 41,365 from last year. Dattagupta projects that the number of students accepted into Tulane compared to the number of who applied to the university will be around 12 percent.

Last year, Tulane was ranked in number 40 in the country’s top national universities in the most recent edition of the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings, which was released in September of 2019. U.S. News and World Report also ranked the university’s undergraduate business program 43rd in the nation, and ranked Tulane in 3rd place in Service Learning, number 18 for best college for veterans, and number 42 for most innovative schools.

“There’s no ‘perfect’ university, but there are certain institutions that can be a ‘perfect’ fit for some students. The transformational journey that Tulane provides is unparalleled: academic flexibility, excellence [and] access — combined with our commitment to community service, in the most interesting city in the whole world — I think that message has resonated with our students.”” Dattagupta added.

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Tulane University Provides Hands-On Experiences For The Visually Impaired

Tulane University Geologist, Nicole Gasparini and her undergraduate and graduate students brought visually impaired students from Louisiana Lighthouse a learning experience of a lifetime. Part of a $230,600 National Science Foundation Grant, Gasparini and her students were awarded, the goal is to study how soil is produced in different environments.

In the project proposal, Gasparini included service-learning, which is an academic requirement for all Tulane students. The idea was to help create a unique learning experience for special needs children so they could experience different types of soil and typography.

“The depth of soil is likely closely linked to the soil production rate and how rivers erode,” she said. “How rivers and soils interact has practical consequences for river infrastructure and human impacts on landscapes such as deforestation or forest fires.”

The first service-learning class, where students apply classroom knowledge to assist community organizations or address societal problems, was spent working with young visually impaired students and encouraging them to feel and touch models of volcanoes, waves, and other natural phenomena. The activities included whipped cream, wet sand, and play dough.

Alongside Gaspirini, four of her students at Tulane University participated in this exciting project; George Pratt, Kristina Leggas, Jenni Riggen, and Haily MacDonald.

“The students were worried about being able to hold the attention of the kids,” said Gasparini. “But the kids absolutely loved the experience.”

“This was my first experience teaching in a classroom setting, but I really enjoyed teaching the kids and also learning from them.” said Tulane senior George Pratt

The project included 3-D printing at the Scot Ackerman Makerspace at Tulane in order to create synthetic landscapes so the children could experience simulated volcanoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes.

One of the projects, lead by Kristina Leggas, centered around surface waves. She created this experience by incorporating sand and water to create a wave tank, and then invited the children to feel the different materials so they could understand how waves move over different types of soils and surfaces.

“I just had to use different prompts and focus on the sensation of touch instead sight,” said Leggas, a junior majoring in environmental science. “Watching them get excited about science made it all worth it.”

The volcano activity, led by George Pratt, a senior majoring in geology and anthropology, encouraged the young students to examine volcanic rock samples and prompted a conversation about how they were formed. He also made a model of a volcano for the kids by using stacked laser-cut plywood. Then, he taught them how lava flows by having them mold homemade play dough along the sides.

“If there was one thing that was challenging, it was conveying information in a way that visually impaired kids could understand. But they asked a lot of questions, and I could tell they were having a good time.”

Gaspirini spearheaded the earthquake activity by utilizing graham crackers and Cool Whip. In a tweet following their service based learning class, Gaspirini tweeted “’I almost started crying when one of the kids said, ‘I wish I could stay here all day.’”

Overall, the project was a massive success.

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Violence Prevention Scholarship Begins at Tulane

The Pincus Family Foundation recently partnered with Tulane University to create a new interdisciplinary program: the Pincus Family Foundation Violence Prevention Scholarship. Tulane released the statement July 17th, 2019. The Foundation awarded Tulane University with $550,000 to establish this new, two-year graduate training program intended to train future leaders in community-focused violence prevention in New Orleans, with an emphasis on Central City. Beginning this summer, organizers will be designing the program elements and coordinating with up to 10 community partner organizations focused on child wellbeing and violence related issues. The first group of six scholars to participate in the program will begin their training in Fall 2020. Second-year students of the program will work directly with the community organizations involved in violence prevention work.

The Pincus Family Foundation was formed by Philadelphia philanthropists David and Gerry Pincus in 2005. These founders dedicated themselves to learning about the challenges faced by children worldwide and helping to address those challenges. The Foundation supports organizations and initiatives that promote children’s health, education, nutrition, recreation, safety, and the arts locally and globally. The daughter of the foundation’s founders David and Gerry Pincus graduated from Tulane’s Newcomb College in 1990. Now a Pincus Family Foundation Trustee, Leslie Pincus-Elliot explained why she and the Foundation chose to initiate this program at Tulane. “A year ago, I read ‘The 28,’ an article from The Children of Central City, a series in The Times Picayuneabout the devastating effect chronic exposure to violence has on children. Having spent four years living in New Orleans as a student of Tulane University, I felt compelled to find a way to give back to the city that had given so much to me.” Pincus-Elliot continued, “The Pincus Family Foundation is thrilled to be in partnership with Tulane’s VIolence Prevention Institute. It is our hope that the creation of this interdisciplinary program will develop tools to stem, reduce and one-day eliminate violence in communities throughout New Orleans and others like it.”

The program will be spearheaded by faculty from the Tulane Violence Prevention Institute (VPI) and its network of community partners to provide students with a two-year graduate training program. To remain consistent with the diverse representation of faculty in the VPI, the Pincus Family Foundation Violence Prevention Scholarship will integrate faculty from all schools at Tulane, notably the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, the School of Medicine, and the School of Social Work. It will be based within the Master’s in Public Health program.

Scholars in the new program will focus on building skills to collaborate with community organizations and co-develop programs designed to alleviate the effects of violence and in doing so, intercepting intergenerational transmission of violence and its health impacts. The training initiative will focus on the lives of children throughout the entirety of New Orleans, with an emphasis on Central City and areas where children are most affected by violence.

“The health of children, particularly those growing up in neighborhoods plagued by violence, is rooted not only in their individual-level experiences but also in those of their families and communities,” said Dr. Stacy Drury, Remigio Gonzalez MD Endowed Professor of Child Psychiatry. “The impact of negative experiences differs based on the developmental window in which the exposure occurs, such that younger children may be particularly vulnerable to the impact of violence. With this perspective in mind, our program will target a range of violence prevention efforts that originate through partnerships with community organizations focused on preventing violence across the lifespan.”

“The goal of the scholarship program is to provide enhanced training in the core skills needed for effective academic-community partnerships that address the far-reaching impact of violence on children and their families. . . Exposure to violence, both within the home and in the community, leaves biological, behavioral, cognitive and socio-emotional scars that alter the life course trajectory and health of youth within and across generations,” elaborated the VPI director and professor of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Catherine Taylor. She continued to say, “We want our scholars to graduate feeling prepared to collaborate with communities and existing organizations to promote child well-being in a way that centers around each community’s unique needs and is rooted in cultural humility, evidence-based practice, sustainability and rigorous evaluations.”

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Tulane Research: Fighting the Epidemic

Researchers stemming from various areas of study at Tulane University have been crucial factors in the effort to combat contagious disease epidemics around the world. In the exhibit OutBreak: Epidemics in a Connected World, the extensive efforts of the researchers are chronicled. The exhibit, which is co-sponsored by The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, is a part of the Smithsonian’s Outbreak project. As the world’s population increases, interactions between humans, animals, and the environment also increases. Hence, this project aims to increase awareness of human, animal, and environmental components that influence contagious disease epidemics. By gathering global partners to work together, the project aspires to stop outbreaks before they even have the chance to occur. The diseases featured in the Outbreak exhibit include cancer, the common cold, Ebola, HIV, leprosy, and Yellow Fever.

In response to the exhibit, vice president of research, Dr. Laura Levy, says, “From its inception, Tulane has been a leader in the fight against infectious diseases. This is an opportunity to share that story with those who may not be familiar with some of the groundbreaking advances that have happened right here in New Orleans at Tulane.”

The exhibit begins with the history of Tulane University, which was founded in 1834 by seven doctors who yearned to fight the spread of Yellow Fever, malaria, and smallpox. From that premise, the university went on to be a center of innovative research for issues of global contagion. Some of the most prevalent breakthroughs affiliated with the university are the discovery of the linkage of cigarette smoking to lung cancer, the development of tests to guarantee the safety of polio and measles vaccines, and the isolation of the common cold virus by Dr. William J. Mogabgab in 1955. The development of the first single-lens binocular microscope is also linked to Tulane. With the development of this microscope came the first documented study of cholera.

Some of the more modern-day research at the university includes the study of gene therapy in primates to assist children with genetic disorders, the development of an improved diagnostic test for Lyme disease, and continued research of diseases such as HIV and Ebola. Consequently, when the Ebola epidemic emerged in Sierra Leone, Tulane researches were of the first to respond.

The exhibit’s research was led primarily by Sally Baker, a MD/PhD graduate student in the School of Medicine. As a young ambassador for the American Society of Microbiology, she collaborated with the Office of Communications and Marketing at Tulane to put the exhibit together. When asked about the basis of the exhibit, Baker said, “Today, we continue to struggle with epidemics, such as the current measles outbreak. I thought it was important to highlight some of the work that Tulane has done in the field of infectious disease, particularly working to develop better vaccines and prevent outbreaks. We wanted to bring that knowledge to the public in an exhibit.”

Tulane University’s Outbreak exhibit is described as a regional version of a larger-scale endeavor. In 2018 – the 100thanniversary of 1918’s Great Influenza pandemic – The Smithsonian unveiled a national Outbreak exhibit in Washington, D.C. This national exhibit spans at 4,250 square feet and will remain open until February of 2021. The exhibit is fueled by the premise of the connectivity of virus and seeks to maintain that in order to suppress outbreaks, people from several different fields must band together to carry out “coordinated detective work.”

Tulane’sOutBreak: Epidemics in a Connected Worldopened on May 1 and will run until July 31, 2019. The exhibit is free-of-charge and is located in the Diboll Gallery of the Tidewater Building, 1440 Canal Street.

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Tulane Mental Health Experts Help Puerto-Rican Hurricane Victims

Tulane recently revealed that professor’s were traveling to Puerto Rico in order to obtain vital information related to disaster recovery as it relates to Hurricane Victims from Hurricane Maria.  Hurricane Maria is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record to affect Puerto Rico, and is also the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Jeanne in 2004.  As of 28 August 2018, 3,057 people were estimated to have been killed by the hurricane: an estimated 2,975 in Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria battered the island with tornado-­force winds. Massive rains brought catastrophic flooding, washing out bridges and inundating entire neighborhoods. The island’s infrastructure, already shaky, was devastated.  Power and running water were cut off for most of the population. Toilets couldn’t flush; there was no water for showers, baths, or washing clothes. People had to rely on bottled water, but supplies were limited. Phone lines and internet were obsolete. Recovery efforts were delayed because airports were shut down. Useless electric stoves had to be replaced with propane ones. Without refrigeration, food rotted and vital medicines spoiled. Most can only imagine what this sort of devastation does to a human’s mental state.  It was collective trauma for an entire population and the consequences of such trauma can linger for decades, following generations even when the memory of the actual hurricane has faded.

New Orleans is no stranger to the aftermath of Hurricane devastation.  Maybe that is why Tulane developed their Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA) which equips students with an interdisciplinary view of the challenges and best practice approaches to leadership in the disaster resilience and humanitarian aid fields to prepare them for careers in areas such as nonprofit leadership, disaster risk and recovery, grass-root development, and more.  DRLA Director Reggie Ferreira and Charles Figley, director of the Tulane Trauma Institute, traveled to Puerto Rico at the invitation of the Foundation for Puerto Rico, a nonprofit organization that promotes economic and social development. Together, Figley and Ferreira are working with the foundation to assess Puerto Rico’s need for disaster mental health research and services, and to train NGO leaders in disaster resilience leadership, share lessons learned from Katrina and other major disasters, and help local universities develop disaster resilience and trauma courses and programs.  One of the main goals of the visit is to develop a comprehensive and collaborative resilience consortium in partnership with the Foundation for Puerto Rico. “Resilience is the ability to grow and withstand the most severe of circumstances,” Ferreira said. “The aim of the consortium will be to share resources and provide a path forward for mental health in Puerto Rico post-Maria.” On their agenda while in Puerto Rico is to also attend a memorial service for disaster victims. “The response to our visit has been amazing,” said Ferreira, who has been visiting Puerto Rico regularly since April. “The folks here have been very open and appreciative of our assistance. They are especially interested to learn more about New Orleans and disaster recovery as it relates to Hurricane Katrina.”

Hopefully, this visit helps leaders in disaster recovery transmit vital information to students, institutions, and volunteers that will help make future assistance not only more valuable but more time sensitive.  These efforts could potentially save thousands of lives impacted by natural disasters in the US and beyond.

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One Book One City Embraces Two Tulane Professors’ Works

The One Book movement is a community reading program that began in 1998 and invites everyone in a city to read and discuss the same book.  Discussions usually take place in small groups and sometimes authors participate. Its mission is to promote literacy and community, providing literacy resources to adults and emphasizing the importance of dialogue between diverse groups of people.  Tulane University has recently announced that a pair of English professors have earned the distinct honor of having their books named as the official reading selections for two American cities in 2019 participating in the One Book Movement.

One is acclaimed writer and novelist Zachary Lazar whose latest book, “Vengeance,” was selected by One Book One New Orleans.  Published in 2018, “Vengeance” was inspired by passion play “The Life of Jesus Christ” which Lazar witnessed at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, La. In the book, the narrator tries to unravel the truth behind the supposed crime of Kendrick King, an inmate he meets and befriends, who is serving a life sentence at Angola for murder.  “My book deals with some painful subjects, but it’s also about loving New Orleans, not just falling in love with it, which are two different things,” Lazar said. “I am very honored to be embraced by this city in this way.”

The other professor chosen for this honor is two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward’s novel, “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” was chosen for One Book, One Philadelphia.  One Book, One Philadelphia is a signature event of the Free Library of Philadelphia that promotes literacy, library usage, and citywide conversation by encouraging the entire greater Philadelphia area to come together through reading and discussing a single book.  Ward’s third novel, “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” is often compared to works by William Faulkner and Toni Morrison and won the National Book Award for fiction.  It was also selected as the Time Magazine Best Novel of the Year that same year.  Ward became the first African-American author and the first woman to receive two National Book Awards. She previously won the award with her 2011 novel, “Salvage the Bones.” Ward’s memoir, “Men We Reaped,” is also the One Book, One Philadelphia adult companion selection for 2019.  “I’m honored my book was chosen to be a One Book, One Philadelphia selection,” Ward said. “I’m grateful that my characters will live and breathe for the people of Philadelphia, and I hope they find something of themselves in my work.” “Sing, Unburied, Sing” chronicles a black family on an odyssey of sorts in rural Mississippi. The story features a 13-year-old boy named Jojo, whose drug-addicted mother takes him and his toddler sister on a road trip to pick up their white father when he is released from prison.

“One Book” projects are listed on the Center for the Book’s Website both by state/city and author/book title. The number of projects has grown rapidly, from 63 in 30 states in June 2002 to more than 350 in all 50 states in December 2005.   In recent years, the “One Book” concept has been supported by a number of organizations such as the American Library Association (ALA) which provides librarians, library administrators and library partner organizations with guidance and information for the successful execution of “One Book” initiatives.

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