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My Letter To Alumni

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Joined: 10 Dec 2005
Posts: 355
Location: New Orleans

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 8:06 pm    Post subject: My Letter To Alumni Reply with quote

I sent this letter to a few hundred alumni who's addresses I've accumulated over all of my action and I figure I'd post a copy.


Dear esteemed Tulane Engineering Alumni:

I would like to bring an important matter to your attention. It concerns the fate of the Mechanical Engineering Department, but first, let me introduce myself. My name is Clay Kirby. I grew up in New Orleans and thanks in no small part to the mentorship of the late Waldemar S. Nelson and Dr. J. Karlem "Ducky" Riess, I decided to study engineering at Tulane. I was a part of the last graduating class in the history of the School of Engineering. No one is more saddened by that last statement than I am.

As colossal a strategic blunder as the Renewal Plan was, it's time to accept what happened and make the most of what we have left. To that measure, I would like to bring the current matter to your attention. Faculty Tenure, Freedom and Responsibility (FTFR) is a committee composed of the most senior and most respected faculty within the university. They handle various concerns, but primarily protect the tenure system at Tulane. The tenured faculty of the Mechanical Engineering Department filed a greivance with FTFR. Their findings (which you can read in full in PDF format, along with all documentation from the proceedings) include mechanical engineering was on solid financial footing and the elimination of the department would adversely affect the university's recovery on both academic and financial grounds. After a full and careful review of the situation, FTFR recommended the preservation of the department under the School of Science and Engineering.

The Mechanical Engineering Department would be an incredibly valuable part of the School of Science and Engineering. In addition to being on a strong financial footing, the academic contributions would be immense. Mechanical Engineering is the broadest engineering discipline. The School of Science and Engineering would be enhanced by the addition of a strong base in key fundamental engineering areas, such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and materials science.

FTFR is sort of like the judiciary branch of the federal government. They can make ruling and findings, but enforcement is ultimately up to the executive branch. In Tulane's case, this would be the Board of Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund. If the new School of Science and Engineering is to succeed, it is imperative that you exert whatever pressure you can on the Board to honor FTFR's recommendation. If the Board fails to honor FTFR's recommendation, not only will the SoS&E miss a powerful partner, but the faculty will conclude there is no real tenure system at Tulane and leave for greener pastures. Many already have. To assist you in your efforts, I have included the email address and snail mail address of almost every member of the Board of Administrators.

I know many of you have been disheartened by the fate of the School of Engineering. I sympathize tremendously. This time, though, you're ahead of the curve. The Administration has yet to talk to the Board about this report and you have a chance to make the first impression. That first impression can be very powerful. You won't be alone. You are armed with the facts. You have the contact information to take your case directly to the Board, instead of through intermediaries.

One hundred years ago, Albert Baldwin Wood graduated from Tulane with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He went on to be the most important Tulane graduate ever, inventing the Wood Screw Pump and pioneering flood protection, not only in New Orleans, but also abroad (including the Netherlands). New Orleans is on its knees right now and desperately needs another Albert Baldwin Wood. Please, do whatever you can to ensure Tulane can produce another Albert Baldwin Wood.


William Clay Kirby
School of Engineering 2006
Clay Kirby
11th generation New Orleanian
4th generation Tulanian
Mechanical Engineering Class of '06
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