Shaping New Legacies

There is a lot of reflection of late about how far we’ve come in the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina and how far we still have to go. Katrina was one of those experiences that had such an impact you find it hard not to divide recent history in Pre-K and Post-K terms.

Just as Katrina was a defining moment for New Orleans, it was also a defining moment for Tulane University, the A. B. Freeman School of Business, and the Tulane Association of Business Alumni (TABA) and its members.


Chris Bonura (MBA ’09), president of TABA

The height of hurricane season is not timed very well from a university calendar standpoint. The 2005-06 school year came to a screeching halt just as it was beginning. Although Uptown New Orleans didn’t sustain the type of damage other parts of the city did, the work of re-establishing the campus, getting students back and right-sizing educational programs to new enrollment realities was no cake walk.

It’s a credit to Tulane’s leadership that it recognized that the community needed Tulane, now more than ever. Tulane renewed its long-standing commitment to community service. Moreover, the university left its mark on public education reform in the city through the guidance of former President Scott Cowen. That focus continues today as the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, which tracks what’s working and what’s not in public education.

In 2005, 62 percent of New Orleans public school students were enrolled in failing public schools compared with 7 percent today, according to the Cowen Institute. That’s a remarkable turn-around that will ultimately benefit both the city and Tulane. We tend to think of a decade as a long time, but when it comes to foundational changes like rebuilding an education system, it’s really just the blink of an eye. There is still a long way to go to declare victory or to determine what the full impact of those changes will be.

In January, TABA established a chapter in Shanghai, China, the association's first new international chapter is more than 20 years.

In January, TABA established a chapter in Shanghai, China, the association’s first new international chapter is more than 20 years.

It’s often been noted that one of the most encouraging signs of the city’s recovery has been the influx of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial thinking. Naturally, this trend gives the Freeman School the chance to shine and to provide much needed resources to its home city. The pioneering work of entrepreneur, investor and educator John Elstrott, founding director of the Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship, has built a strong legacy at Tulane. That legacy recently received a tremendous boost from Albert Lepage (MBA ’71), whose generous gift will fund the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

The Tulane Association of Business Alumni also faced significant hurdles in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The 2005 Tulane Business Forum, which is hosted by TABA, had to be cancelled. As the forum is the primary source of revenue that TABA uses to support Freeman School programs, the storm put our very mission in jeopardy. But your alumni association has come back stronger than ever. The forum continues to grow and remains one of the best general business seminars in the region. This year’s Tulane Business Forum takes place Sept. 17 at the Hilton Riverside. (See the story on page 19 for more information.)

With a strong reserve of leaders serving on the board, I feel very confident about the future of TABA as I approach the end of my term as president in December. First and foremost, they are all Freeman graduates, so that’s a good place to start. I encourage each of you to get involved and play an active role in your alumni association.

Scott Bonura (MBA ’09)
President, Tulane Association of Business Alumni

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