Tulane Board Extends President Michael Fitts’ Term Until at Least 2026

NEW ORLEANS — The Board of Tulane voted unanimously at its June meeting to extend Michael Fitts’ term as president until at least 2026.

“When an organization is on a run of success, you can sense the passion, the excitement, on the part of everyone involved,” said Carol Lavin Bernick, CEO of Polished Nickel Capital Management and chair of the Board of Tulane, in a press release. “President Fitts came to Tulane with a clear plan and strategy on how Tulane could realize its fullest potential and value as a force for good. He is achieving this plan and has inspired the entire Tulane community to move the university ever forward.”

During Fitt’s tenure, the school raised more than 1.3 billion from alumni and supporters, boosted enrollment figures and focused on equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. It has expanded graduate offerings and hired high-profile academic leaders.

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A Fitts initiative, the Tulane Trailblazers program, celebrates accomplished, diverse Tulanians through the naming of professorships, scholarships and other honors. Fitts also launched the Tulane Leadership Institute in 2021 to identify and nurture future university leaders.

A spokesperson said sponsored research awards have increased more than 50 percent during Fitts’ tenure. Meanwhile, plans are underway for Tulane to become the main tenant at a redeveloped Charity Hospital building. The university will occupy nearly 350,000 square feet while the remaining space will be used for apartments, retail and more. In addition to laboratories, classrooms and student housing, the building will house the Tulane Innovation Institute, a center designed to “bring Tulane breakthroughs and discoveries to market faster while supporting venture creation and spurring economic development throughout New Orleans and beyond.”

“Cities throughout the country have been transformed from their core outward thanks to the presence of a national research university located in their downtown,” said Fitts. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform New Orleans into a center of biotech innovation that will reap huge economic benefits for our region while creating the latest advances in medicines, diagnosis and outcomes for individuals throughout the world. This is a major part of what makes me so excited for the future of Tulane.”

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Fitts established nine endowed presidential chairs while launching numerous interdisciplinary research centers, including the ByWater Institute, the Department of River and Coastal Studies, the Brain Institute, and the Center for Cellular and Molecular Diagnostics. Fitts has also supported entities such as the Center for Environmental Law and the Center for Energy Law.

Tulane’s campuses are undergoing $1 billion in construction and renovations. This includes The Commons, a dining, meeting, studying and gathering place for students that opened in 2019 and was the university’s largest construction project since Yulman Stadium. The master plan includes the renovation of every existing residence hall on campus.

Fitts said he is “deeply honored” by the Board’s action.

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“I am as enthusiastic about leading this institution as I was on the first day of my presidency,” he said. “The progress, growth and upward trajectory of Tulane is the result of the efforts of the most incredible students, faculty and staff anywhere. Together, I know we will continue to dramatically strengthen our scholarship, teaching and research.”

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