Fitts delivers State of the University address, outlines Tulane’s projects and goals

Campbell Lutz, Senior Staff Reporter

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Each year, President Michael Fitts hosts a State of the University address. Aimed primarily at Tulane staff, the speech outlines the University’s latest achievements and biggest goals. At this year’s address, hosted in McAlister Auditorium on Friday afternoon, Fitts hoped to highlight Tulane’s increasing competitive edge, diverse and academically accomplished Class of 2023 and new construction projects.

The program opened with a video entitled “The Power of Tulane,” which showcased some of Tulane’s latest construction projects and the university’s contribution to the New Orleans community.

Rebecca Otten, Associate Director of Social Innovation Strategy at the Taylor Center, receive a Tulane Spirit award.

Rebecca Otten, Associate Director of Social Innovation Strategy at the Taylor Center, receives a Tulane Spirit award.

After taking the stage, Fitts thanked the Tulane staff for a smooth and successful beginning to the semester. He then announced the winners six Tulane Spirit awards, which honor the hard work and dedication of outstanding Tulane staff members.

“We are unpacking the type of innovative, world-renowned academic leaders to guide us through the next chapter of the Tulane story,” Fitts said. “And the world is taking notice.”

Fitts went on to list The Princeton Review’s 2019 rankings: Tulane is #1 in community service, #2 in students who love their colleges, #4 in colleges with the happiest students, #6 in quality of life and #9 in best-run universities.

But Fitts wasn’t done yet. According to Fitts, the university received 42, 184 applications for the fall semester, up from 26,257 applications in 2015. Of those, Fitts said, 12.87% were accepted.

Fitts gives his State of the University address

“Let’s show the world the spirit of the green wave. Let’s show the world our ‘esprit de l’onde.'”
– President Fitts

“Ask any admissions officer,” Fitts said. “They will tell you that Tulane’s meteoric rise in admissions is unprecedented.”

The new Class of 2023 is also more racially diverse than previous classes. According to Fitts, 30% of the class is made up of students of color, a 57% increase over the past five years.

“That’s an inspiring jump, but one that leaves us with room for growth,” Fitts said. “When we look back five years down, the Tulane community will be a better reflection of the world around us.”

Fitts also commended the construction and recent opening of Tulane’s new dining hall, The Commons. But more construction projects lay ahead.

“This academic year, we will break ground on our largest, most ambitious project to date at Tulane,” Fitts said. “We are reimagining how students live and learn at Tulane. Tulane’s new Residential Quad, where Bruff Quad now stands, will provide 1800 new beds and spaces where students can grow, collaborate and question together.”

The university also plans to begin building Steve and Jann Paul Hall, a new Science and Engineering building. What drew more excitement, however, was Fitts’ statement that after Paul Hall is completed, the university will begin renovating Stern Hall.

Tulane’s expansion extends beyond the Uptown campus. According to Fitts, the university has been trying to make the Downtown campus feel more like a “true campus,” with more green space, more restaurants and more Tulane banners. They are also looking to expand into a new teaching hospital.

Charity Hospital

Charity Hospital in downtown New Orleans | Courtesy of Tulane University

“We are in serious discussions to become the lead tenant at a whopping 300,000 square feet in a renovated Charity Hospital building,” Fitts said. “Charity will allow us to move our downtown community all to a central location, a place where Tulanians can focus on what we do best, education and research that will literally change the world.”

Before leading a cheer of “roll wave” and inviting attendees to a reception, Fitts thanked every Tulane faculty and staff member for their dedication and challenged them to up their ambition and devote themselves to the university even more fully.

“Very few people ever get the opportunity to work at a world-class institution like Tulane, so take advantage of the chance to write your own story,” Fitts said. “Every single person in this room has the potential to absolutely transform this institution.”