Catching Up With Dean Edwards

Brian Edwards, School of Liberal Arts Dean and Professor of English

A couple of days ago, I came home to find that a package had been left on my porch. Inside an oblong box was an amazing ring of green, purple and gold—a king cake from Haydel’s Bakery!

No card, no hints. A mystery. My wife and I discussed who might have sent such a gift. So many wonderful people have been welcoming to us and our family since we moved here last summer. With an inkling, I texted a Tulane alumnus I had seen a week earlier.

I guessed right. “Nice article in the Tulanian,” he texted back. “Now that you can see New Orleans through the purple, green and gold prism of the iconic king cake, there’s no telling what ideas you may soon develop.”

The reference was to the cover story in this month’s Tulanian, which has the word FUTURE in blue on the cover, with the TU in green. The magazine features the four new deans who have joined the university this year, our sense of being a cohort, and our visions for our schools and the university at large. I love working with these fantastic and inspiring fellow colleagues.

As I comment in the article, the vital connection between Tulane and the city of New Orleans is key to much of what we have the opportunity to do here now. That relationship has been central since the founding of Tulane, to be sure. But the opportunity for a new generation to discover and reimagine the many vital links between the university and the city is part of what makes Tulane the most exciting university to be at right now.

Some of what that means for the School of Liberal Arts means bringing together our expertise in social and public policy to help understand and address challenges the city faces, while also learning from the successes and struggles in New Orleans as we offer lessons to the rest of the country. It means thinking creatively with our colleagues across Tulane’s schools about how to confront environmental challenges, live with climate change, and help reframe the public conversation in ways that will make solutions resonate in a noisy and fractious discussion.

Reimagining our relationship with this great city means, too, deeper engagement with the creative industries that make our home famous worldwide. I have been learning from private meetings with leaders in our music industries, museums, and foundations, as well as a great conference on the future of cities organized at the Contemporary Arts Center by the editorial staff of the New York Times last month.

New Orleans is on the move, with a new airport terminal symbolizing the city’s growth, and there are sure signs that a tech sector is emerging. As we look forward to this next stage of growth for the city and for the School of Liberal Arts, building on this relationship between NOLA and SLA with a truly interdisciplinary scope of programs and approaches will be central. I look forward to sharing some of our new initiatives in the months to come.

So as I write this first newsletter of 2019, with a piece of Haydel’s king cake and a cup of coffee, I’m thinking of that future seen through the purple, green and gold prism. And yes, it’s pretty sweet!

Read more from the SLA January 16, 2019 Newsletter.