Celebrating and Giving Thanks

Kenny Harrison illustration of GWBC

As I write this column, the Freeman School is busy preparing to welcome thousands of students and guests to Yulman Stadium for this year’s undergraduate and graduate diploma ceremonies.

What makes these preparations so noteworthy is how completely normal they are: This is what we have done each spring for the last 100 years to honor our graduating students. Given the past 18 months, however, the special nature of this year’s ceremonies is not lost on us. After canceling last year’s diploma ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are thrilled to be able to once again come together as a community and celebrate the achievements of our graduates after a most challenging year.

Graduation will mark the end of our spring 2021 semester, the third semester in which Tulane University has operated under the specter of COVID-19. It has not been easy, and we have all had to make sacrifices, but the bottom line is Tulane University and the A. B. Freeman School of Business have come through this very serious challenge in outstanding shape. Thanks to the resilience and hard work of our faculty, staff and students, we were able to finish the 2019-2020 academic year despite difficult circumstances and complete the entire 2020-2021 academic year successfully with no disruptions. Doing so is something of which we should all be proud, and I thank everyone at Freeman for their diligence and enthusiasm in adapting to new instructional methods and observing safety protocols. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and assuming trends continue to move in the direction they’re currently moving, I’m optimistic that next fall will look a lot more like the semesters we experienced before
the pandemic.

As you may be aware, this is my final “From the Dean” column for Freeman Business. On June 30, I will be departing the dean’s office and, after a sabbatical, joining the Freeman accounting faculty to teach and conduct research. Change is never easy, but now is a very good time to hand the reins to my successor. Freeman is a bigger, better, more highly regarded school of business than it was a decade ago, and by any metric, it is poised to continue in this very positive trajectory. The feature article in this issue highlights some of the great initiatives and accomplishments of the last 10 years in more detail than I can provide here, so to that I’ll just add that these achievements would not have been possible without you. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your dean for the last 10 years, and that is due in large part to your extraordinary dedication, support and enthusiasm for the Freeman School. No business school dean in the nation could ask for a better community of alumni, parents and friends with which to work. As I embark on the next chapter in my career, I sincerely thank you for making the last 10 years so special.

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