Penn Law Dean Departs for Tulane Presidency
Michael Fitts earned a reputation for raising money and for his interdisciplinary approach to teaching law.
Longtime University of Pennsylvania Law School dean Michael Fitts has been named president of Tulane University in New Orleans.
University officials unveiled their selection of Fitts during a press conference on Tuesday, although the word had leaked earlier in the day. Andy Wisdom, co-chairman of the presidential search committee, said Fitts had been the unanimous choice among 75 candidates.
“After an exhaustive national search, which attracted many incredibly talented candidates, we found the individual who is uniquely qualified to guide, inspire and lead Tulane,” said Darryl Berger, president of Tulane’s board. “This is an exciting day for everyone who loves Tulane.”
Fitts has led Penn’s law school since 2000 and taught there since 1985. During his tenure as dean, the size of the faculty grew by 40 percent as Fitts instituted an interdisciplinary approach that encouraged students to take classes outside the law school. He raised more than $200 million, and oversaw the renovation of the existing campus and addition of the $33.5 million Golkin Hall, which opened in 2012. The structure contains offices, classrooms, an auditorium and a courtroom.
During the press conference, Berger called Fitts a “prodigious fundraiser” and “a leader who will bring people together.”
Fitts said he was attracted to the Tulane presidency because of its “unique combination” of strengths. “I love Tulane and what it stands for,” Fitts said, noting that several of his relatives have attended the school. He looks forward, he quipped, to sampling the local cuisine on a daily basis—and was a little worried about his waistline.
Penn president Amy Gutmann called Fitts’ appointment an “inspired” choice by Tulane. “He is a skilled strategic leader whose vision has propelled Penn Law to even greater heights among the pre-eminent law schools in our nation,” she said. “Under his direction, Penn Law has become an unrivaled leader in cross-disciplinary legal education, which is an essential feature of first-rate education in today’s increasingly complex global society.”