Academic Year in Review: The Power of Tulane

Mike Fitts talking to students over lunch

June 1, 2018

Every year, I look forward to the pop of confetti and sizzle of fireworks as we close out commencement with a second line. At Tulane, we don’t quietly hand out diplomas; we send our graduates into the world dancing with umbrellas and waving handkerchiefs, a celebration of all they have achieved. And celebrate we should! The 2017-2018 academic year was one for the record books.

This year, Tulane met the challenges of the world head-on: with grit, empathy and the unyielding belief that any problem can be solved. Between students brainstorming plans to eradicate sexual violence—to an Ebola survivor committed to stopping the disease in its tracks—to professors uncovering a hidden Mayan city—Tulanians forged bold new paths of discovery.

Our groundbreaking research, service to the community and dedication to tackling the world’s toughest problems bound us together—a community of leaders committed to positive change. Collectively, our ambitious spirit is propelling Tulane, full-speed, into the future.

Together, we will lead the way, and I can’t wait to see where we go next.

Mike Fitts signature
 

Infographic

 

TU TOGETHER

Tulanians are stronger when we work together towards a common goal. We’re unconventional. We’re innovative. And we’re ready to tackle issues that affect us all.

WE’RE TAKING TO THE STREET

Tulane Health Center at Elk Place

The School of Social Work transformed a major transit stop outside their front door into a place of opportunity and healing. Together, with the community, they created a monthly health fair at the corner of Canal Street and Elk Place, known as the Elk Place Health Spot. It gives passers-by easy access to street-level health screenings and career development information.

AND RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

Tulanians are working together to change the campus culture. Project IX: a new course offered by the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking is one of many opportunities for students to collaborate and address the issue of sexual misconduct. Launched in conjunction with the Wave of Change initiative, the seminar facilitates weekly discussions and workshops focusing on challenge areas, which include education, community, justice and dialogue.

WE’RE CREATING CHANGE … LOCALLY AND GLOBALLY

TAHJ WILLIAMS
Cyber Security and Homeland Security ’20

Tahj Williams is constantly exploring ways to keep local traditions alive by bringing together contemporary elements and non-traditional styles to the unique hand-sewn suits she wears as a Mardi Gras Indian queen. When she’s not focusing on her studies, she dedicates her spare time to designing and creating her intricate costumes. Williams strives to lead the younger generation of Mardi Gras Indians, one of New Orleans’ oldest and most sacred traditions.

MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM
Pyschology Professor
School of Science & Engineering

MICHAEL MOORE
Biomedical Engineering
Associate Professor
School of Science & Engineering

KATHERINE ELFER
2018 PhD Graduate
School of Science & Engineering


Nominated by their peers, a team of Tulane researchers was honored for their role as trailblazing scholars in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Together, they are also inspiring and encouraging a new generation of young people to pursue careers in STEM. Michael Cunningham, Michael Moore and Katherine Elfer were among 40 national winners of the 2017 Inspiring Leaders in STEM Award.

DR. JAMES ROBINSON
Professor of Pediatrics
Section of Pediatric Infectious Disease

ROBERT GARRY
Professor of Microbiology & Immunology

Tulane virologists and international research partners have come together to address a pressing global problem. Why can some patients survive Ebola and Lassa fever, while others cannot? The coalition of researchers launched the new Center for Viral Systems Biology, a $15 million federal project to use genomic analysis and other advanced tools to study survivors in detail in order to develop new treatments and vaccines to fight the deadly diseases.

WE’RE GOING GREEN

The School of Architecture and the City of New Orleans launched the Tulane Energy Benchmarking Symposium. To address the growing issue of wasted energy in commercial buildings, Tulane and city experts brought together building owners, managers and energy experts from urban areas across the country. Attendees learned how to measure their energy use, with an eye to creating cost savings, workforce development and economic activity.

TU WILL

Tulanians will never give up. We’re bold. We’re tenacious. And we’re committed to breaking barriers in the classroom and throughout our community.

WE’RE PAYING IT FORWARD

Tulanians have the will to do the right thing. This spring, the university welcomed 16 guest students from Puerto Rico and St. Maarten with open arms in the wake of Hurricane Maria's devastation. The students have found great inspiration in New Orleans—a living example of recovery itself. Their strength, scholarship, enthusiasm and hope for a brighter future embody the true spirit of Tulanians.

AND INSPIRING SOLUTIONS

Tulanians have the will to make a meaningful impact. Thanks to the vision and generosity of Board Member Phyllis Taylor, the Tulane Nitrogen Reduction Challenge awarded $1 million to inventors of a sophisticated computer modeling system that helps farmers keep crop yields high using less fertilizer. The competition rallied innovators to find a solution to reduce nitrogen runoff from agriculture, a main culprit behind vast algae blooms that cause massive annual “dead zones” in waters throughout the world.

WE’RE STANDING APART AND PURSUING PASSIONS

JESMYN WARD
TIME 100 Most Influential People of 2018
Professor of English
School of Liberal Arts


Jesmyn Ward, Tulane's 2018 Commencement speaker, is continuing her rise as creative powerhouse. With her most recent novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, she became the first woman to win the National Book Award twice, joining an elite group of two-time winners. Ward was also selected as a 2017 MacArthur Fellow (Genius Grant), awarded to individuals who show exceptional creativity in their work.

NICK PASHOS
CEO of Bioaesthetics
PhD, Bioinnovation '17
School of Science & Engineering
NSF Integrated Graduate Education
Research Trainee Fellow


Nick Pashos wants to bring positive change to patients undergoing breast reconstruction. Knowing doctors and patients were interested in a realistic and fully functional nipple graft, he set out to bring it from the lab to life. Pashos’ work has won numerous grants and prizes that have given him the tools he needs to get his product available to patients in need.

AMIR VARDI
Founder, Tulane Venture Capital
2018 Graduate, Bachelor of Science in Management
A. B. Freeman School of Business


Amir Vardi is helping Tulane entrepreneurs develop their business ideas and contribute to the growing success of the New Orleans entrepreneurial ecosystem. With a goal of uniting students and alumni interested in the venture capital industry, he founded Tulane Venture Capital. The organization has two missions—to create a strong network and provide a hands-on learning experience to start up investing.

ADAORA OKOLI
Bill Gates' "Heroes in the Field"
2018 Graduate, Masters of Public Health


After contracting Ebola while treating patient zero in Nigeria in 2014, Dr. Adaora Okoli is using her near death experience to help stop the disease for good. In recognition of her efforts, philanthropist Bill Gates recognized her as one of his “Heroes in the Field,” a list that identifies unsung individuals helping to save the world. Her ultimate goal is to return to Nigeria to help prevent future infectious disease outbreaks.

WE’RE FUELING OUR FUTURE

Declaring “a new age of academic ambition” President Fitts launched Only the Audacious, The campaign for an ever bolder Tulane. Focusing on pioneering research, transformative teaching, opportunity and diversity, and building an environment for excellence, the campaign is creating a new culture of learning and research paired with service that celebrates differences and creates lasting change at home and around the world.

TU LEADS

Tulanians lead by example. We’re determined. We’re motivated. And we’re playing a vital role in shaping the future.

WE’RE DEVELOPING A NEW GENERATION OF LEADERS

Meredith Smith

MEREDITH SMITH
Assistant Provost for Title IX and Clery Compliance

Tulane has become a national leader on addressing sexual misconduct on campus thanks to Meredith Smith’s work with our recent climate survey. Recognizing her valuable contributions, New Orleans CityBusiness named her in their Ones to Watch issue. It was the latest honor for Smith, who coordinates Tulane’s efforts to prevent, respond and remedy sexual discrimination. Her work with the Tulane community will have a lasting impact on campuses around the country.

trio of newly-elected Tulane Law class presidents

KERIANNE STRACHAN
3L Class President
School of Law
Class of 2018

GARRETT HINES
1L Class President
School of Law
Class of 2020

GERALD WILLIAMS
2L Class President
School of Law
Class of 2019


The trio of recently-elected Tulane Law class leaders have a common goal—to inspire students of color to achieve their dreams with careers in law. For the first time in history, all three class presidents are African-American and on a mission to build diversity in the legal profession. Together, they will use their new platforms to be role models, grow enrollment and offer support and guidance to classmates.

Kaitlin Simpson

KAITLIN SIMPSON
2018 Graduate, Master of Public Health
School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine
Tulane Student-Athlete


Kait Simpson is a leader in and out of the pool. In addition to being a 9x NCAA American Athletic Conference medalist and a school record-holder in five events, she works with Special Olympics athletes to help them build confidence, improve their social skills and grow in their athletic abilities. Coaching this inspiring group of athletes has allowed Simpson to share her identity as a student-athlete and showcase her pride for Tulane as a place of acceptance.

WE’RE UNCOVERING THE PAST

Tikal

Tulanians at the Middle American Research Institute led the charge on a remarkable discovery that garnered worldwide attention. Archaeologists Marcello A. Canuto and Francisco Estrada-Belli are part of a team of researchers that revealed dozens of ancient cities in Guatemala using jungle-penetrating LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology. Their discovery included more than 60,000 structures — from isolated houses and large palaces to ceremonial centers and pyramids.

AND LOOKING TO THE NEXT 300

Tulane has called New Orleans home since 1834. Together, we have created a community that’s unlike anywhere else in the world. Tulanians are resilient, just like our home town. We are at the forefront of groundbreaking research, logging thousands of community service hours and dedicated to preserving the history and culture of our great city. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of New Orleans is not just about marking where we’ve been, but seeing where we will go together.

WE'RE LEADING THE WAY

MAY 19, 2018
Mercedes-Benz Superdome

KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Jesmyn Ward

STUDENT SPEAKER
Daniel Sullivan, School of Medicine

HONORARY DEGREES
James Clark
Paul Farmer
Steve Gleason
Irma Thomas

AND BUILDING A BETTER FUTURE

Tulane is creating a campus that will fuel learning, collaboration and community. From energizing student life to taking research to the next level, we’re designing spaces to foster ideas of all shapes and sizes. As our campus continues to grow, so will our impact on communities around the world.

MUSSAFER HALL

Tulane University shield logo

From the classroom to the boardroom, Tulane is dedicated to student success. Mussafer Hall, scheduled to open in fall 2018, will combine career programming, academic advising and success coaching under one roof. In addition to housing key Newcomb-Tulane College services, the LEED-certified building will feature multipurpose areas.

Named in honor of David (B ’85) and Marion Mussafer, who made a $5 million gift.

STEVEN AND JANN PAUL HALL FOR SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING

Tulane University shield logo

Adding to the School of Science and Engineering footprint, Steven and Jann Paul Hall will include classrooms, labs and collaborative spaces for increased student and faculty interaction. Work on the facility is scheduled to begin in 2019.

Tulane graduates Steve and Jann Paul made a $10 million gift to support this construction.

THE COMMONS

Tulane University shield logo

Nestled between the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library and the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life, The Commons will house an innovative new dining hall, multipurpose meeting spaces and a permanent home for the Newcomb College Institute. The Commons will physically and metaphorically bridge academic and social life for all students.

Tulane received an anonymous anchor gift for The Commons.

GOLDRING/WOLDENBERG BUSINESS COMPLEX

Tulane University shield logo

With its striking glass façade, light-filled classrooms and towering central atrium, the Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex at the A. B. Freeman School of Business was dedicated on March 2, 2018. The complex features more than 80,000 square feet of new and renovated space to accommodate the school’s growing enrollment.

The Goldring Family Foundation, Woldenberg Foundation and Marshall Heritage Foundation provided the anchor gifts for the renovation and expansion of the A. B. Freeman School of Business.

 

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