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Work on Tulane’s Madison campus on track

Since last summer when New Orleans-based Tulane University announced that it was locating a satellite campus in the City of Madison, the university and the city have been working quickly to renovate the former elementary school that will be Tulane-Madison’s home by this summer.

It appears that work is going to meet that deadline. Tulane-Madison plans to welcome its first students June 2, almost a year to the day Tulane received approval for the campus, located on U.S. 51 in the heart of the Central Mississippi city, from the Mississippi Commission on College Accreditation.

Steve Vassallo, who serves as the liaison between the City of Madison and Tulane, says the renovations are on schedule.

“It’s coming along nicely,” Vassallo said, who added that a television commercial was being shot last week promoting Tulane’s eminent arrival. “The building is in high gear, and it looks like we meet all deadlines.”

While welcome news for all in the community of 30,000 people, no one is more thrilled than Madison Mayor Hawkins-Butler. The eight-term mayor has been working for years to land an institution of higher learning in her city. Vassallo met with numerous universities before striking a three-year deal with Tulane in 2009.

“(Mayor Butler) didn’t just want anyone,” Vassallo said, calling Tulane “classy and respected.”

Madison enjoys the highest median household income in the state. The numbers grabbed Tulane’s attention.

“When I saw the city’s demographics and profile, I was quite impressed,” said Rick Marksbury, dean of Tulane’s School of Continuing Studies and university point man on the Madison project.

This will mark Tulane’s second satellite campus in Mississippi. The other is located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast at Biloxi, housed in the Edgewater Mall.

Tulane president Dr. Scott Cowen said, “Madison has an accomplished mayor with a demonstrated commitment to education and community building. We look forward to expanding Tulane’s presence in Mississippi and working with the Madison community.”

Based on the results of a survey of Madison residents, Tulane-Madison will enroll part-time students seeking undergraduate credit in the liberal arts, sciences, business studies, media arts and computing.

“We have a three-year arrangement to see what it is like, what the students’ interests are and what the reception is,” Marksbury said. His previously-announced plans were to hire staff by April.

On March 24, Tulane named Sherry Chance as director of the campus. Marksbury said Chance brings a wealth of experience in higher education and administration.

“Madison has very high standards, and so does Tulane,” Hawkins-Butler said. “You will see Madison embrace this great university.”

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