Tulane’s President Michael A. Fitts View From Gibson: Entrepreneurship and Innovation in New Orleans

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Each week Tulane University President Michael A. Fitts shares reflections in his The View from Gibson blog post. This week’s post related to the entrepreneurial and spirit of social innovation that has been omnipresent in New Orleans over the last several years. In his April 1, 2016 post, President Fitts said:

Dear Tulane Community,

One of the most striking changes in New Orleans in recent years is the surge of entrepreneurship. With its many activities that promote innovation and enterprise, Tulane is a leader and partner with its hometown in this area.

This week I had the great pleasure of hosting an amazing group of New Orleans entrepreneurship leaders for dinner at No. 2 Audubon Place. They described for me the city’s strong appeal for creative people and problem solvers. In other words, the same people who are attracted to Tulane. In my inauguration speech, I talked about the problem-solving power of combining ideas from different areas of knowledge and Tulane’s propensity for doing this. The same idea-blending dynamics fuel entrepreneurial projects.

The entrepreneurs also described challenges the city faces maintaining and increasing its recent momentum, as well as Tulane’s central role in building the most successful entrepreneurial community possible. The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said the way to build a great city is to create a great university and wait 200 years. Tulane and New Orleans are 182 years into it! On inauguration day, I also discussed how Tulane uniquely engages with its city and how the fates of New Orleans and the university are inseparable. The city’s economy needs new ideas to thrive. The university needs an enterprising mindset to be a leader in the fast-changing landscape of higher education.

The leaders I met praised some of the wonderful resources we have at Tulane as primary sources of ideas and discovery for the city and world, including the Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, the Albert Jr. and Tina Small City Center, the Office of Technology Transfer and our computer science coordinate major.

With this amazing core in place, we will spread entrepreneurial thinking throughout the entire Tulane community. This is one of the focuses of Rick Matasar, our new vice president for strategic initiatives. We will use entrepreneurial thinking to shape our mission. We will instill it in our students, preparing them to compete at the highest levels. This is how our institution, and our home, will create a shared and brilliant future.

The entire Taylor community appreciates President Fitts’ interdisciplinary spirit and are excited to be a central partner in Tulane’s commitment to this important work. It is also exciting to be recognized by the university President for the work being executed through Taylor by all of our staff, students, faculty, student Fellows and collaborative partners.