Greetings from New Orleans! I hope everyone is having an enjoyable holiday season. This seems like the right time to reflect on the year we are ending and to think about the year to come. This past year has certainly been eventful. We saw Sen. Barack Obama elected president in an historic election, and it looks as though we will have Sen. Hillary Clinton as the new secretary of state. Regardless of how you voted, Obama's early appointments seem to have resonated well on Wall Street as the stock market recently enjoyed its first five-day positive run in a little more than a year. However, credit remains tight, housing prices are down and Wall Street has announced massive layoffs. Also, we recently witnessed a shocking attack in Mumbai in which more than 180 people were killed by terrorists. The world financial markets may have a more direct impact on the Freeman School, but tragic events such this affect everyone. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of India.
Many of our graduates hope to find jobs on Wall Street, but that is going to be more difficult to accomplish this year than in previous years. It is also more difficult to raise money from potential donors when markets and the value of investments are down, and this presents yet another challenge to the Freeman School. In addition, Tulane is not an inexpensive school to attend, and lower returns and the tighter credit market may combine to make it difficult for some potential students to afford to attend Tulane.
Despite these challenges, there is much to be thankful for and there is much to be optimistic about. In fact, the Freeman School and Tulane University are in relatively good shape right now. We had our own financial crisis three years ago, and since that time we have instituted significant changes to make us more efficient and better able to deal with all contingencies. Although the Freeman School's endowment-along with the university's-has taken a hit in the past few weeks, many of our competitor schools rely much more heavily on endowment funds to operate and are thus in much more difficult positions than we are right now. In fact, this situation may actually present some new opportunities for the Freeman School as we move forward.
Placement will be a challenge for the coming year. To address that difficulty, we have hired Kara Schonberg to serve in the newly created position of manager for corporate development marketing. In that role, Kara will be traveling around the country to develop strategic contacts with corporations and generate job leads for our students. In addition, we have contracted Byron Kantrow to serve as a corporate relations consultant on our behalf. Byron, who is based in Manhattan, will be responsible for developing relationships and employment leads with companies in New York. If you as an alumnus or friend of the school know of any jobs within your organization, please let us know as we are working diligently to provide our students with every opportunity possible.
Overall, I feel confident that 2009 will be a good year for the Freeman School and for Tulane University. We have many of the pieces in place to move ahead on several academic fronts, and we have a faculty and staff that have demonstrated time and again that it can accomplish amazing things with few resources. From everyone here at the Freeman School, thank you for your continued support and best wishes for a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.
Last Updated 11/19/08