$15 million donation from Taylor Foundation to fund SISE center, new professors

Flower+Hall

Flower Hall

Franny Hocking, Associate News Editor

Phyllis Taylor, a Tulane University board member, recently awarded Tulane $15 million to create the new Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking.

Taylor, the chair of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, donated to the center to help Tulane faculty and students to develop, design and innovate solutions to problems like health care, the environment and other issues.

The center will expand Tulane’s current Social Innovation program, which offers a minor in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. Seven new faculty members with expertise in design thinking will be hired as part of the center’s initial creation, New Orleans City Business reported Nov. 17.

“I would definitely take more classes if they were able to hire more professors to teach them,” sophomore SISE student Gabbi Shaw said. “I think it’s really interesting.” 

A key part of the center will emphasize cross-disciplinary research to develop comprehensive solutions to today’s social problems.

Taylor believes that the concepts and goals behind the center are a perfect fit for Tulane because of the university’s emphasis on service, which has developed and grown since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, The Advocate reported Nov. 21.

“The goal is to move Tulane to the forefront of universities engaged in solving social problems,” Taylor said in a statement released by the university.

Another asset that will come hand-in-hand with the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking is the Taylor Social Innovation Fellows program. Taylor Social Innovation Fellows are social entrepreneurs and practitioners who will become visiting professors at Tulane.

The center will be located in the Donna and Paul Flower Hall for Research and Innovation and in the nearby School of Architecture in Richardson Memorial Hall.

“I think SISE having its own building and work space tailored to the needs and aspects of the program, and its students will really maximize its potential for impact on our communities, both in Tulane and New Orleans in general,” said sophomore SISE student Brandon Ocheltree, a former reporter for The Hullabaloo.