President Fitts announces fundraising campaign with $1.3 billion goal


Colin Yaccarino | Photography Editor

President Mike Fitts addresses the crowd at the Big Reveal event Friday in Devlin Stadium.

On Friday at The Big Reveal event, president Michael Fitts announced Tulane’s new fundraising campaign, “Only the Audacious.” The goal of the campaign is to raise $1.3 billion for the university.

“For decades, we’ve accomplished spectacular, remarkable things with only a fraction of the endowment of some of our wealthier peers,” Fitts said at the event, “I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of running a marathon from 15 yards behind.”

The campaign has four primary goals which are to promote the pioneering of research, transformative teaching, opportunity and diversity and the building of an environment to support excellence.

As stated in its overview, the campaign will work to “impact all aspects of the university – every student, faculty member, school, unit and center. It will broaden our capacity to ensure we emerge as an exemplar of higher education by means of our scholarship, our research and our graduates.”

The campaign has already raised $820 million and is chaired by Tulane supporters Cathy Pierson, Hunter Pierson, Phyllis M. Taylor and Richard Yulman.

The audience was full of excitement as the Tulane community had been anticipating the event since Fitts previewed an upcoming big announcement in his Nov. 17 The View from Gibson newsletter.

Peter Ricchiuti, an A.B. Freeman School of Business professor, served as an engaging and humorous emcee for the event. Ricchiuti is the founder of Tulane’s nationally recognized Burkenroad Reports student stock research program.

Ricchiuti also hosts a popular weekly business radio show on National Public Radio in New Orleans called “Out To Lunch.” During The Big Reveal event, he hosted a modified version of his show that featured professors talking about discovery and innovation in Tulane academics.

The event opened with each of the campaign chairs talking about the goals of the campaign, followed by many professors in environmental departments discussing some of their research dedicated to solving the problem of coastal erosion in Louisiana.

The event also featured some more lighthearted segments such as the Tulane Trivia: Extreme Edition in which three Tulane students played a trivia game that highlighted some of Tulane’s historic achievements.

Toward the end of the program, English Professor Michael Kuczynski hosted the “(Not-So-Late) Late Show” with his guest, English Professor Jesmyn Ward. Ward is a two-time National Book Award winner and was selected as a 2017 MacArthur Fellow. At the end of the segment, Fitts awarded her with the prestigious Tulane University President’s Medal.

Student a capella group Green Envy closed the set with a Tulane themed version of Justin Timberlakes “Can’t Stop The Feeling.”

The Big Reveal announced what is now Tulane’s biggest fundraiser ever. “Only the Audacious” will continue on for many years as it works to achieve its goals.

“This is a pivotal moment in Tulane’s history, a time to dream big, to think big and to act boldly,” Fitts said.