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WWL>Topics>>8-26-14 2:10pm Angela: with new Tulane president Michael Fitts

8-26-14 2:10pm Angela: with new Tulane president Michael Fitts

Aug 26, 2014|

Angela sits down with new Tulane University President Michael Fitts.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

-- 16100. Freshman started school at Tulane University yesterday. Among them the new president of the university. Michael fits. Beginning of his freshman year as leader of the school that's been a leader in our community for a 180 years. But other than starting his first day of school yesterday. There is nothing freshman about Michael threats. In spite of being educated at both Harvard and -- the University of Pennsylvania. Has been his home for most of his life. Both growing up blocks away from it and for leaving its law school for the last fourteen years. For those who have known him the words innovative engaging in strategic thinker and fun come to mind. We don't have to talk about the shoes he has to fill Michael -- has brought his own. Philadelphia's loss is New Orleans game and we welcome him to WW well and I really mean that I still look forward to this -- And I appreciate your time. Mean you've been so inviting here and as has all of new. That's what I wanted to hear because we we love new people we grabbed them and embrace the men and you're just coming in -- I didn't squeezed. Into. Squeezing isn't it I understand that you have been to commander's palace and pop much project. So I figure you give -- a I'm high brow and low brow and all everywhere in between unfortunately comes -- food. Is pop -- not the best fried chicken you've never had I love it. I flew all my words. When I read and I said this is a man of many taste he's gonna fit in beautifully and I mean I love it too much for that's okay you know you have a great -- over to Italy. Not what was it though about two that would get chewed to uproot yourself after. Helping to create what does the law school now of new pan and and just being so rooted. Well I'd -- Philadelphia and spent most of my life and career in Philadelphia. But as -- place it. Freshman at Tulane derive. -- and one instrument. You know it is day. The most innovative I think dynamic. University and and fun loving university in the United States. On it. Is in. In so many different levels of a beacon for the country -- -- in its engagement with the world and -- community. On and it was a place I just want it to be. Had you been here before prior to being interviewed while everybody's been okay -- everything. You EU. But in in fairness had been in New Orleans principally for three or four date periods when I came in for conventions. My wife's sister in fact had taught at Dillard university's. And sometimes your -- -- part of the family but nothing more than sort of loving the time -- and here and. I understand when you when you address the freshman class that you also asked them to send you a picture of their favorite place either on campus or in town. And I think that's a wonderful thing and I I was just curious. Why. Well I arrived here. For permanently July 7 and as part of my. Through engagement with the world and I've I've been around and looked at the campus. It's a beautiful city but it has such diversity to it in every way that Granger of saint Charles. The edginess. It in the French Quarter. And the I just was so attracted by all the different places so. Of course I wanted to bring. The new students in -- explorations but also. I'm to match them -- picture for picture to see. Who could come up with a picture of the best exemplified. What Tulane is about and normal. -- I think that is terrific. You have 18100 new friends or as a 15100 new brands. And I'm sure that they appreciated. You're feeling that you're starting with them. We are both. I'm excited. There's a certain degree of intimidation obviously when you look at at this incredible city. -- Wii -- we've all 16100 freshman I've embraced that the. I just also understand that and I thought to myself. For someone who may appreciate New Orleans but having not lived here. And and lived in beautiful city like Philadelphia it hadn't -- been first. When you had a jazz -- to band playing. A closer walk with me. There is nothing. Like to blame. -- and as part of that there's nothing like that tooling and convocation ceremony nobody has in the country as the jazz band advocate. Other than. And so you were dancing I was dancing. I must say. I don't have the rhythm. So many entering the freshman of people in the world but I love music with it was. Just to treat from in your short tenure here in two months here what have you learned about new forms that you didn't now. Com. Let me say you you hear about new -- obviously all the United States about to -- and it states. I'd been prepared for the humidity I actually wasn't prepared for the quality of the air conditioning. Here. You know I have I have not been to building yet it was -- actually coal and winning it. -- congratulate New Orleans -- having come up with ways of dealing -- -- humid. I was I was surprised by the warmth to repeat here are no links with just gained. Among the top five -- cities in the United States and quite frankly the other four were much smaller than the world. But you know on the street everybody come in contact we. Com -- very friendly is that today during warm. Willing to show an outsider like me the ropes. And I -- more invitations and what to do live. Jumped from around the world he'll be an insider very quickly. If you absolutely will we're gonna take a break we're gonna come back and we're gonna continue our top with a new president of Tulane University. About his thoughts on education today. On challenges and his hopes for the university right after that's. Well we are back talking with the new president of Tulane University Michael fits we are delighted to have him here. And lots to talk about let's let's start talking about really. What I have read about you is that you were so incredibly innovative. At university Pennsylvania where you were dean of the law school for so many years. Integrating. Other degrees. With law. And that. That is a wonderful concept. I'd like you to tell me about why you did that and do you see similar things happening to -- Com. Absolutely just to get to the bottom line I think let me just note that Tulane has. Already does a huge amount of this -- and the opportunities to build on this are are among the things that drew me here just to back up. You know we live in a world where problems don't coming neatly package if if you're thinking about how you -- questions and energy. War. In the environment to war -- health. On it. You can't attack them -- sort of thinking about one analytic category one academic discipline or one profession you have to move across fields. On so that's the way the we need to be thinking about our educational system. I'm and in my time at the University of Pennsylvania. We realize that lawyers needed to be trained or thinking about whole series of areas in which there and practice are working. Whether that's in business -- health care war in technology with the intellectual property. Across the board so. What we did what there was. Integrator curriculum to about 7% of our graduate degrees another school. I'm and that's both in terms of search that's where of the world is going on and that's where an education just to know. Yesterday we hosted a conference. Com along what is senator Andrew at Tulane. On energy policy. We brought in academics from Israel in the United States and -- in from the region as well. I'm thinking about how we deal with questions of energy and obviously that involves engineering. And the environment and law and business. People from around the globe it's it's the with the way we're gonna resolve so many problems in the United States. And Tulane. Is just. Bill could attend to both educate students. And to engage in search across these. I'm just give -- of the war best example. Newcomb Tulane. On the entry point of all undergraduates. Is not a sign compete -- particular field. They can be in the liberal arts later on in the engineering and science they can be health. Indian business but the economy and and they're able to roam -- field. No other university does this in the same way to windows it's an incredible opportunity for students to serve. -- there academic area and I intended -- So if if somebody is interested in Letzing energy and they go into engineering. You would also suggest they might get a degree in something else absolutely if somebody is in. Medicine they might be interest and also -- -- Well law or let me let me point out that we're the health care system is going through a transformation right now Affordable Care Act. Com and we -- healthcare organizations. Reconstructing themselves and merging union and divesting. If you think about doctors. I'm in order to it. To in -- be successful and to manage health care. On many of them should get on business degrees or that and and indeed in my prior life large percentages of the medical school's student did get business degrees partner intricate. Same -- engineers. Again across the board. On the professions are breaking down in the sense that we we need people who work educating an area but they have to know how that field whether it's architecture. Engineering law on public health how intersect with the other fields and two lane. With a wonderful configuration graduate schools all the way from public health to engineering to architecture. Is magnificently position. To sort of pursue that in its educational. And so what does Europe design and what you've seen. You -- it is but what are you looking at for the future I I want to. Support and facilitate. The ability of students and faculty. To engage with -- each other across the campus on in academic programs. In search. I'm so bad in sense they can create all those synergies. There are what what tooling about. -- that is very very exciting and and when I was reading about what you had done at the at university -- law school it was. You were also. Correct me if I'm wrong but. Helping people get summer jobs and that kind of work -- and that is also part of your plan. Absolutely the you know what what is college about. College is about. Intellectually engaging. It's in it engaging with people from different backgrounds socially. -- being learning a whole lot of leadership skills but at the end of the day. You want students to go out there and make a difference -- -- higher the better your educational program. The more your students are them are going to be attractive to employers when they graduate so the the purpose of this is also to have students who. Tom will be hired and will be extremely successful. And engaged while they're here -- new world. In that respect. The the move of Tulane to require public service as part of the curriculum. He is I think. Absolutely critical to our education students and what they do like back and regret. -- you bring up something that really came about post-Katrina. And it was such a phenomenal thing. And it really started to among many other aspects of for your predecessor. Of having two -- in a leadership position during our rebuilding. And and just your thoughts on when you were hearing about it as it was happening now that you were here. What you want to continue and. -- -- One of the huge attractions of two lane is that it's in -- world and it's engage with the world. What the symbol. You hear Tulane is only Tulane only in -- So that the the art futures I think are intertwined. Four universities. Obviously week in key issue in the most esoteric academic and -- com and push the borders. In academically in those areas but we. Engage with the with the community around us and that's so much a part of not only there were search but -- I'm teaching them leadership skills to our students and making the world a better place because in the end. Universities. Are are known for. -- how they impact the world around and so our relationship with no more balances is critically important not only in the public service. Environment but the ability of our students to. Take advantage of the diversity. The music and culture of new world it's going to be -- so important for them. I also think it if you look at sort of the dynamic communities around the country whether it be Silicon Valley or Boston. They tend to be places where you have great universities. I'm date for all students from around the country the student wanna stay and become part of that community. They create businesses they work and businesses there innovators. I'm and I come to -- clearly draws students from all over the country and the United States. So many of them wanna stay here because they -- -- Moreland. I'm they wanted them develop their careers here and I look forward going on in the in the years ahead. To really sustaining that developing nets whether that's in technology here in the nation where we can be. Really I'm hopeful for now. You know you I'm listening to you and I'm thinking if you really have come and a wonderful time. Because it's like. The next -- So missed some universities locally are struggling financially and they're struggling even getting students and yet to blame. -- mean the number of applicants is unbelievable well our our problem is not getting students it's trying to decide which of the students from week which is -- a nice problem. What a wonderful problem to have the thought I would I wanna talk I don't wanna I'm. Spent too much time on a -- under we're gonna have to go to news in a moment but I do want to know your thoughts on what we have done many programs on. And that is forced some is college becoming out of reach financially. What can can control costs if anything and and just your thoughts on that affects them. Well clearly this is a concern to everybody. In higher education and for anybody who's sending your child. Off. In higher education. That the tuition. In recent years at places universities like tooling and many peers. Hasn't is has not increased as it has in the past we've really tried to keep -- down. We're looking very hard ways to try and reduce the expense. It tooling and on and we'll continue to -- part of our arch challenge is that universities. In the year and about people. And you you can't replace people with technologies easily and you said. And so therefore. You know it's been it been harder to keep our costs. We're in the look at it very hard in all sorts of different ways to try and minimize. To which we are also. -- Looking fairy. Intensely about Wheaties to increase scholarship paid for them. You know arts scholarship on top. Most students to do it scholarship aid. The ability. To Ross students from every economic. Background as critical. -- to. -- society but in the education. Arm so we're looking very hard column at the cost financially. One so ago. Everybody talks about the cost of higher education and I agree it's a serious serious issue. There's never been a moment when the value of higher education and greater if you think of all the changes in the world. And technology. In globalization. The value of the duke re education received its use and the ability to come -- And engage with students from -- the country in the world and with the greatest mind. And to graduate as part of that network is yes hugely important battle over. The students but for this aside. Stay with us everyone we're gonna check in with the newsroom -- what's happening but will be back and if you'd like to talk to Michael fifths 260187. How lucky we are to have Michael fits the new president of Tulane University as our guest this hour. Not talking about time what we are all talking about and that is that the cost of higher education you bring up so appropriately the value of higher education. And especially in today's world. -- have to throw this out because I think there's the value of an education. Of just going through that time of your life as you say with the diversity of people perhaps in the community you haven't lived in before. And what that means and yet there are so you can never -- that. But there are some subjects. That I worried that kids graduate with a degree and they'll never beyond the -- the student loans. And how you don't want to discourage. But at the same time the reality of life is. Your English degree may not. With a 200000 dollar gentlemen saturating but how do you help. Let me underscore what I discussed before which is. The attractiveness. Of the rat. Programs available at -- We as you know have liberal arts -- justice first rank. -- liberal arts but of course we awesome a business school. Science and engineering. Public health architectural a large number of really first rate undergraduate schools. What the what the -- allows is for students. Can pursue what we might consider a traditional. Academic programs -- English -- order. Chemistry. But at the same time also majors in courses such as business or finance or public health. That may have a more direct. Employment that afternoon when they graduate. I think that traditional liberal arts and and what the key issue up thinking and -- Com and the world is critical to your long term success its side. But what two lane allows you to do. Is to pursue those fields at the same time mural if you wish to pursue other areas. And that I think it both is that. A first -- education. But it's also the -- -- maybe positioned you well for for your profession after you graduate. So an accident I think Tulane combines the best of both world. In in both in your past and today. When parents who really just want the best and kids they just want them to have a beautiful education great well yes that's right and how how do you help them. In the sense of you're gonna have to start saving -- you're going to have to and how do you plan that out. It's it's. Exit in the difficult issues that we all struggle no question and I'm a parent and sent my two kids to college so. I've been in the same position. You know obviously I think it is something worth saving four -- it's -- very important. War the next generation I think you can do nothing but they're few things you can do more important then and supporting your kids' education culture and other levels. I also think that universities -- Tulane have to provide. Substantial financially. And so few. If you look at Humana financially we offer in the percentage of students who receive it it's -- -- 80% to just -- that is incredible. -- what I like it could be larger would like us to be able to give more financially yet. But as you look at our. Increases in tuition over the years we've more than compensated with financial burden financially and budget is -- Much. Faster and any. -- What -- what challenges do you. Face I mean in in the positive sense not the oh my gosh but things you look at that your excited about the in this new step in your life. Well first -- all. If you talk to psychologists. On them they tell you what you need to do when life it is its embrace change. Com and that that's you know you know if violinists. Go to law school vice Versa that that that allows him be more. More excited about what you're doing and be more engaged in for me. Leaving a community that I love -- after. Thirty years and coming in Portland and embracing them and only a different type of decisions but he different community has been invigorating. Way and it would. Encourage people to do it it's exciting obviously it's challenging. But I I think it's been in great experience for me when I look at the position. At Tulane. The opportunities here are cute and it's. It's it's always been one of America's great universities but the world is changing. It's changing as you say in terms of the finances. Technology. And globalization. I have all. Turned higher education upside and continue to. And Tulane has to be continued to stay in every single area. A -- that requires us to be more nimble and other places to take. To be more in innovative that's what attracted. I mean it's that it has that. I'm tradition it also has the night and said this to so many people it's got great we came out of Katrina and it's it's better than it was before and that that's a symbol for me but there obviously going to be. Huge number of challenges going forward in higher education in and we need to be -- We've certainly got the -- it's also. Can be scary making a major change. And it they had to -- a moment when even though this was the perfect scenario we -- it took to take that step out. Well there's the fact that I'm I have been a long -- Eagles fan and what they'll be a new football team. And I I've I've always loved. You know if I. Of the saints. How when they actually play the Eagles how I feel the heat -- -- -- Give you a couple of U. -- up. It may take it'll take very few years -- you know great team this year you know -- Major League Baseball -- to -- You can still root for the Phillies absolutely we're gonna take another break stay with this will be right back with Michael cents. Our guest Michael Spitzer was the new president of Tulane University. We have got to talk about the big deal next week we're talking of a new stadium. This is huge. Stark I think yes and Elaine and in many respects from moral yes. And you've seen it of course. It is beautiful -- act it's gonna -- 30000 people. Two -- nearest and dearest. On every single one of them and all 30000. I'm so happy for that team though because. I think that we are football town in as we were saying and commercial. We have thank heaven we have the superdome. But it wasn't right for two and it just. I wasn't fair I think even to the young kids who would go to this is perfect they walk across campus there there. The -- will know. It's just a good thing. It just doesn't get any better in terms of the spirit and the community at Tulane and also I think for. New Orleans and an -- on idol. And ability to see this a little bit differently I think that a lot of people in New Orleans Tulane and calm union. And absolutely. Everybody I talk to whether it's. Somebody at the airport wore at the hotel working behind that desk. Or on the street with no connection with Tulane -- -- student coming Newt went there all ecstatic about this this stadium. The sports the way it will bring students together on the campus and connect. Students alumni faculty. Staff. At the university -- it'll be great event. It will be a tremendous event and I know that town. I have read where the kids were wrapped around the building trying to get their tickets sold out -- -- this is terrific. And over the all the cells but also to neighbors. Tonight is I think very very important so many memories of the old Tulane stadium that night you have a new a new book to create new memories. Let -- talk about. One of their deep skills and president has to have is on race. And I understand you bring bring that to the table. Com. You know universities. Our our people. Students faculty staff 19. Like all those people have to be supported. In in a way that they can do with they need to do I'm educationally. And so yes I am one of the most important things I do is two -- who -- That. Bomb this institution. Has the resources that -- need to continue to be. She was saying earlier. We have to be reminded that your writes the majority I would imagine of your monthly can't cut bill is that salaries. That's labor intensive which is is a wonderful thing and to keep great people. Keep great teachers. Requires resources. Get on with it -- -- as as. I've said to many people it's a wonderful university and has great people. If you compare it to all the other top universities in the country. It has less fewer resources. Lower endowment I know many people think of is that is rich but is if you compare us to the the great universities where we really are until one of the priorities for me has to be. I'm -- trying to improve that situation we are likely to be going into a campaign which will on help rectify. And and through a bigger down in big endowment then you can. Keep the best and brightest. Well and there's so many things that. We we won and need to do financially it is clue leak. Hugely important. The ability to develop these academic programs between schools. To engage in search. That will really make a difference in areas like energy all that requires resources so that's that's what will be focused. Tell me you also of course have a medical schools. And hospitals than a few things going on in our community. And that is an area that is changing as you mentioned early on any thoughts on what may be happening at that either. Knew what with the new hospitals coming on how you gonna be balancing that. Let me -- one of the attractions again -- -- -- was its. Distinguished history in Madison. My family has a long. Medical tradition. And I heard about Tulane medical school. -- is being one of the country's great medical schools and tradition and I must say after I was appointed. I received so many letters and notes from graduates of Tulane medical school around the country. Talking about when what. Great education income and when for strength institute -- west every medical school and hospital in the country is going through change at this moment. Given the Affordable Care Act. I'm everybody's looking around to how they can structure themselves going forward and we're no different I'm looking very hard to ways to make sure. Two lane and medical school in the hospital are well situated not just for five years from now. But 1020 years from -- -- that health care market changes evolves. Stay with us everyone we're gonna continue our talk with Michael fits him -- -- ask the important things like will he be catching beads on money god right after this. Well we are back again sort of wrapping up a delightful hour with the new president of Tulane University. Michael fits. And but I met my -- RU -- you know what money grind is one have you ever been I have not been in my -- This is a life experience. Think of this sort of a Ph.D. in font. It's a unique experience but you are perfectly positioned to be on saint Charles avenue grabbing those -- I'll be there yes the what about Jazz -- to be heard about. As solely. In fact I've heard almost as much about asbestos as I have about money. I'm so many people told me. That I have to go at it -- fast it's them. The nicest event of its kind in the world. Yes it is I should and I should definitely be. Because it is the collection of such tremendous music but the food and -- -- -- -- and effective food and then our art so it's just the best of the best. Good luck to you sir are really mean that. We welcome you and if we have a few seconds we don't. We'll have you back again this time marches on good luck to.

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