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Tulane Architecture Students Scatter, Enroll as Visiting Students

Thousands of lives were uprooted by Hurricane Katrina on the nation’s Gulf Coast, including over 350 students of Tulane University’s School of Architecture. After Tulane officially cancelled the fall semester, these students began a scramble to re-enroll elsewhere.

For Reed Kroloff, dean of Tulane School of Architecture, the first challenge was finding them; with the student and faculty records lists down, he and associate dean Ila Berman used email, the web, and telephones to track down students.

Kroloff’s thoughts turned to trying to keep the fifth-year students together for the first semester of their last year. In what is likely the largest block of students relocated to a single institution, more than 30 fifth-years are enrolling at Arizona State University, where five Tulane faculty members will teach.

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ASU Dean Wellington “Duke” Reiter earned his own bachelor’s degree at Tulane, while Kroloff has long had a close relationship with ASU. Local architecture and construction firms are donating time and materials to get studio space ready in a hurry. Kroloff is enthusiastic about this Tulane-in-exile experiment in cross-pollination. “This presents an opportunity for true pedagogical innovation,” he says. “We have been planning curricular changes and this will ramp up that transformation—we are looking at how to recast architecture as a significant force in public service and leadership.”

Schools throughout the country have offered to host displaced students from Tulane and other New Orleans-area universities. Students are enrolled as visiting students rather than as transfers, and will pay tuition to their home institutions, where they are expected to return in the spring.

Nearby architecture schools absorbed some of the Tulane students; several undergraduates have registered at Mississippi State University and Louisiana State University. Kroloff praised the “incredible” efforts of Don Gatsky, dean of the University of Texas-Arlington, and Ellen Dunham-Jones and Tom Galloway at Georgia Tech, as well as others, for stepping up with generous offers. Students have found their way to these schools, as well as Cornell, Pratt, Columbia, Syracuse, Cooper Union, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southern California, Sci-Arc, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, and many more.

Holly Latter is one of several enrolled at Parsons School of Design in New York, where she has friends and can stay close to family in Maryland. She knows Tulane wants her back for the spring semester, but she is skeptical about the shuffle in her last year, and about whether Tulane will be operational. More immediately, a single-semester stint presents a housing challenge, especially in New York City. But amidst uncertainty, she’s digging into coursework. “My studio site is in Brooklyn. I’m heading there now to explore,” she says.

Adam Porter, a fourth-year student from Warrenton, Virginia, started classes at the University of Virginia without his supplies and computer, the condition of which he is uncertain. But he is certain that he will return to Tulane. “I'll definitely be back in the spring,” he says. “There are going to be a lot of opportunities for our trade in the coming years in New Orleans.”

Kira Gould

 

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