I chose my words carefully in 2013 when I announced my plans to retire as president of Tulane University. I tried to make sure my colleagues and friends knew I was retiring from the presidency of Tulane, not from work or life! In addition to promoting my new book, The Inevitable City: The Resurgence of New Orleans and the Future of Urban America, sales of which will benefit Tulane University and the New Orleans public education system, I will also continue my efforts to improve K-12 education in New Orleans and my work with Opportunity Youth.
Public education in New Orleans has gone from being among the worst in the nation to serving as a model of reform for the rest of the country. However, there is much, much more hard work to be done until we are truly providing the best education for all of our children. But schoolchildren are not the only young people who need and deserve our attention. Opportunity Youth, 16 to 24-year-olds who are neither in school nor working, represent a tragic waste of potential and a costly, needless drain on society. Increasing educational and job opportunities for these young people is a moral imperative and absolutely essential to our future as a country. I intend to dedicate as much of my time as possible to this cause.
Finally, I plan to return to my first love – teaching in the classroom. I find nothing more enriching than engaging and inspiring our next generation of leaders and passing on to them what knowledge and skills I have acquired during a lifetime of learning. The major themes of my teaching will focus on the topics of leadership, design thinking and civic engagement.
All this, in addition to more writing and research projects, will keep me connected to Tulane and New Orleans for life. And out of the rocking chair forever.