Inside Tulane Med: Quarterly News from the Tulane University School of Medicine

Michael A. Fitts named 15th
president of Tulane University

Michael A. Fitts, dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, has been named the 15th president of Tulane University. Fitts will begin his term on July 1, when current President Scott Cowen retires after 16 years of service. 

Michael A. Fitts
Michael A. Fitts

A native of Philadelphia, Fitts earned a bachelor of arts from Harvard University in 1975. Inspired by the film To Kill a Mockingbird and its heroic protagonist, attorney Atticus Finch, Fitts enrolled in law school at Yale University. He became an editor of the Yale Law Journal and earned his juris doctor in 1979. Fitts began teaching at Penn in 1985 after serving as a clerk for civil rights advocate Judge Leon Higginbotham and as an attorney in the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. He was named law dean at Penn in 2000.

Under Fitts' deanship, Penn Law has become a national leader in cross-disciplinary legal education, with 35 degree and certificate programs offered in partnership with other divisions of Penn, including its business and medical schools. He also increased the law school's endowment by more than 250 percent, grew the number of law faculty by 40 percent and doubled all forms of student financial aid. Further, he created partnerships with institutions from Bangalore to Beijing and expanded public service opportunities for students and graduates.

Although he has spent his career in law, medicine is not unfamiliar territory for Fitts. He comes from a line of physicians. His grandfather was an internist in Jackson, Tenn., who trained at the Mayo Clinic, and his father, Dr. William T. Fitts Jr., was a master of trauma surgery and a visionary in trauma care. Dr. Fitts served as chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University Of Pennsylvania School of Medicine from 1972-75. The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma established an annual lectureship in his father's name and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania built the William T. Fitts Jr. Surgical Education Center in Dr. Fitts' honor.

"I was brought up by a physician whose vision and accomplishments in the field of trauma surgery inspired me with a deep appreciation for the enormous good medicine does in the lives of individual patients, and for the health of our society," said Fitts. "Because of my background, I understand how vitally important it is to support the mission of an academic medical center, and I look forward to working with Dean Hamm to ensure that Tulane School of Medicine thrives in a changing healthcare environment."

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