“I don’t have any regrets,” President Fitts reflects on his freshman year at Tulane


Emily Carmichael, Print News Editor

Tulane University President Michael Fitts, with his enduringly jolly disposition, recounts the horrors of the exam dreams that haunt him to this day during exam time. Only this year, he was trying to make the grade as Tulane’s new president. 

Fitts faced multiple student deaths and Tulane’s vocal student body on issues ranging from sexual assault to mental health. Aside from these challenges, Fitts says he has no regrets about how he handled his freshman year, besides failing to lose the 15 pounds he had set out to at the beginning of the school year.

“It’s been a whirlwind but a lot of fun for me personally,” Fitts said. “Obviously learning this community and getting to know it has been taking a lot of time, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

In his previous job as the Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Fitts focused on building connections between different fields of study, whether that be through the physical environment or academic partnerships, like the one he created between the University of Pennsylvania Law School and their medical school.

“The core of education is to educate students to think nimbly, to be able to work with other people, a broad spectrum of people, and to be able to exercise leadership,” Fitts said. “The ability to cross between fields is exactly what I think an educated person needs.”

Reflecting on Fitt’s first year, it is apparent that he emphasizes collaboration in his approach to leadership. For many issues on campus, like mental health and sexual assault, Fitts has developed a task force with a variety of different individuals, including both students and faculty, addressing the problem.

In the absence of a formal task force, Fitts himself often works behind the scenes to facilitate conversation among involved parties and reach out to affected groups and individuals as a way to improve the issue.

He has a similar interdisciplinary vision for Tulane, striving to capitalize on the university’s  eccentricities and idiosyncrasies as a way to forge a path of leadership.

“[We] want to provide an environment where we learn from each other … in which we can break down the silos between disciplines, between the classroom and the outside community, and among people from different backgrounds,” Fitts said. “That’s what an education is about, and that’s where Tulane can be a huge leader.”

Even with his vision for Tulane, people have mixed opinions about how Fitts executed his first year as President.

Some students have praised Fitts for his commitment to engaging students.

“I feel like his first year has been a success, and that he has made an effort to connect with a lot of the students, and that he has a lot of positive ideas,” rising sophomore Raleigh Dosher said.

Other students find Fitts less involved, particularly in light of the student deaths this past school year, mental health issues, sexual assault on campus and the divestment movement.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been disappointed with the lack of attention given to many of the issues that students care about,” rising sophomore Josh Rosenbaum said. “I worry that in 5 to 10 years we could be just where we are right now.”

Fitts said he does not personally find himself removed from the Tulane community.

“I have been deeply involved in all of those issues, both publicly and privately talking with a whole variety of individuals,” Fitts said.

As the year comes to a close, Fitts looks forward to the rest of his time at Tulane.

“This is an exciting place and the ability to build on what’s here to really make Tulane not only be, but be recognized as the sort of the premier undergraduate experience in the United States I think is palpable, and that’s my goal,” Fitts said. “That’s not something that going to be achieved in six months or a year, but we are putting all the blocks in place.”

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