Forget the winter weather outside. Inside the campus of Tulane University in Madison, Miss., the environment is all about warmth an everybody-knows-your-name kind of personal touch that has brought success to the university's newest outreach 200 miles from New Orleans.
The director of the Madison campus, Sherry Chance, was staffing the phones on Friday (Feb. 4), saying that the weather had improved since the previous day's storm left an inch of ice behind. “School has to go on,” Chance said as she worked to plan schedules for evening and Saturday classes in coming semesters.
The Madison campus is thriving in its first year in the community just north of Jackson, Miss. Operated by the Tulane School of Continuing Studies, the campus opened last summer after Madison leaders recruited Tulane and provided the facilities in a former school. This semester, there are 221 enrollments in 29 classes at Madison, where Chance said it's part of the culture to “be very supportive of each other. We try really hard to maintain that sense of community.”
Students, ranging from age 21 to late 60s, are heading to Madison from as far away as Meridian, Miss., an hour and a half away. “They're very excited to have Tulane University in their backyard. They get here early before class; they help each other study. You can sense this energy when they start showing up,” Chance said.
This semester's classes range from English, psychology and Spanish, to applied computing, journalism and media arts. Rick Marksbury, dean of the School of Continuing Studies, says some courses were created as highly qualified lecturers came forward a Civil War historian from the Vicksburg National Military Park and a Tulane medical alumnus, retired from academia, who is an expert in global health.
Looking ahead, Marksbury is planning to add noncredit classes in mornings to appeal to the area's retired residents. Overall, he is very pleased with Madison's success. “It's a great opportunity for us,” he said.