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President Michael A. Fitts
Students sit in the LBC quad for Crawfest
We’re Crawfesting!

Tomorrow marks the 11th annual Crawfest, a student-founded, student-run rite of spring at Tulane that has become one of the largest and best-known college music, food and arts festivals in the nation. 

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President Fitts presenting a teaching award at a past Unified Commencement Ceremony
Honoring our Teachers

Academician, instructor, professor, lecturer, tutor, pedagogue. There are many words to describe a teacher. Perhaps that’s because these individuals do so much – provide direction, exchange ideas, build confidence and inspire greatness in students until they equal or surpass their teacher.

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Luis Guillermo Solis, president of Costa Rica
Hosting Our President

I like to tell Tulane students that they can achieve anything, including being elected president. Of course, with students from 58 countries and all 50 states attending Tulane, I don't specify which country. But a real-life example of such a dream coming true will arrive on campus today. Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera will return to Tulane, where he earned a master's degree in Latin American Studies in 1981. 

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President Fitts congratulates an honorary degree recipient at a past Unified Commencement Ceremony
Commencement Honorees

Commencements are not only meant to celebrate and congratulate. They are also meant to inspire and to encourage our graduates to lead truly purpose-driven lives dedicated to improving the human condition. With this in mind, we will award honorary degrees at Commencement 2017 to four exemplary individuals who have helped reshape our world and now beckon our graduates to do the same.

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Welcome from President Fitts

Tulane University is uniquely suited to teach and empower the next generation of leaders. Here, across our 10 schools, we are preparing a student body of nearly 14,000 to be nimble thinkers, adept at toggling between disciplines and fields to solve problems. We are teaching the value of public service through our deep engagement with the incredible city of New Orleans, of which Tulane will always be inextricably intertwined. Every day, our graduates are creatively engineering solutions to the most pressing global challenges and difficulties facing the 21st century.

Truly, the entire world is going Green.

And we continue to grow, expanding our academic offerings at our uptown and downtown campuses in order to provide a premier academic experience for our student body. We are also taking ambitious steps to ensure Tulane benefits from a secure and robust financial future. From the Brain Institute to the River and Coastal Center, our students benefit from cutting edge real-world research opportunities to apply the skills and theories they learn in the classroom.

You can read more about some of our initiatives:

There is no place like Tulane. Here, innovation is celebrated, collaboration encouraged, and new discoveries are made every single day. Please visit us on campus and find out for yourself what makes Tulane beyond compare.




Michael Fitts is the 15th president of Tulane University. He arrived at Tulane in July 2014, bringing with him a strong emphasis on heightening cross-disciplinary education and research.

President Fitts believes students and higher education institutions can set themselves apart in a fast-changing world and ever-shifting economy through the combining of different fields and skills. In his first year at Tulane, he launched task forces to lead the university in deepening its unique strengths for interdisciplinary collaboration. He sees powerful advantages in the university’s manageable size, its wide selection of professional schools, the unified undergraduate college and multiple cross-disciplinary projects already in place. He aims to create the most engaged undergraduate experience in the country through this rethinking of academic options, residential living, extracurricular activities and more. In graduate education and research, he will foster intellectual cross-pollination that can produce solutions to some of the world’s most fundamental problems.

This focus also extends to Tulane’s physical campuses. President Fitts has initiated a campus master planning process with a 21st century vision of spaces redesigned to promote connections. That includes drawing people together from different parts of campus and linking different functions of the university, such as residence halls with dining hubs and academic venues.

Another avenue for making connections is public service, an area where Tulane is a leader in higher education. President Fitts lauds the pursuit of community work for its power to show students how theory connects with practice. It gives them real-world experience with the concepts they study in class. His vision for the university includes enhancing the ties between public service and academics.

Before arriving at Tulane, President Fitts served 14 years as dean of the Law School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was recognized for greatly boosting that school’s offerings in interdisciplinary education. He also presided over a quadrupling of Penn Law’s endowment, a more than 40 percent increase in the size of the Law School faculty and a doubling of all forms of student financial aid. He oversaw the rebuilding or renovation of the entire Law School campus. The Law School’s Board of Overseers named a faculty chair, a scholarship and an auditorium at the school in his honor.

President Fitts is a native of Philadelphia. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard University in 1975. Inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird and its heroic protagonist Atticus Finch, he attended Yale Law School. He was editor of the Yale Law Journal and received his juris doctorate in 1979.

He served as a clerk for federal judge and civil rights advocate Leon Higginbotham, who became a mentor to him. President Fitts then worked as an attorney in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, where he served as outside counsel to the President, White House and Cabinet.

His teaching career began at Penn Law in 1985. He has written extensively on presidential power, separation of powers, executive branch decision-making, improving the structure of political parties and administrative law. He served as president of the American Law Deans Association.

President Fitts and his wife, Renée J. Sobel, Esq., have two adult children.

Short Version

Curriculum Vitae

Scholarly Publications

Articles and Book Chapters

In Memoriam: Bernard Wolfman, 125 HARV. L. REV. 1893 (2012) (Part of Memoriam to Bernard Wolfman).

What Will Our Future Look Like and How Will We Respond?, 96 IOWA L. REV. 1539 (2011).

A Dean’s Perspective on Ed Baker, 12 U. PA. J. CONST. L. 943 (2010).

A Time-Honored Model for the Profession and the Academy, 158 U. PA. L. REV. 1289 (2010) (Part of Symposium on Work of Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr.).

The Non-Management Side of Academic Administration, 41 U. TOL. L. REV. 283 (2010).

Foreword: The Evolution of International Law, 30 U. PA. J. INT. L. at i-vi (2009) (Foreword to 30th Anniversary Issue Contributions).

Targeted Transparency, 7 ELECTION L.J. 137 (2008) (reviewing Archon Fung et al's FULL DISCLOSURE: THE PERILS AND PROMISE OF TRANSPARENCY (2007)).

Back to the Future: The Supreme Courts Response to the Changing Goals and Functions of Modern Political Parties, in THE SUPREME COURT AND THE ELECTORAL PROCESS (David Hope ed., 2002).

The Complicated Ingredients of Wisdom and Leadership, 16 HARV. BLACKLETTER L.J. 17 (2000).

The Hazards of Legal Fine Tuning: Confronting the Free Will Problem in Election Law Scholarship, 32 LOY. L. REV. 1121 (1999).

The Legalization of the Modern Presidency: Twenty-Five Years After Watergate, 43 ST. LOUIS U. L.J. 725 (1999).

The Triumph of Timing: 'Raines v. Byrd' and the Modern Supreme Court's Attempts to Control Constitutional Confrontations, 86 GEO. L.J. 351 (1998) (with Devins).

The Paradox of Power in the Modern State: Why a Unitary Centralized Presidency May Not Exhibit Effective or Legitimate Leadership, 144 U. PA. L. REV. 827 (1996).

Book Review, 13 J. POL. ANAL. & MGMT. 811 (1994) (reviewing G. COX & M. MCCUBBINS, LEGISLATIVE LEVIATHAN (1994)).

Ways of Thinking about the Unitary Executive, 15 CARDOZO L. REV. 323 (1993).

Book Review, 12 J. POL. ANAL. & MGMT. 223 (1993) (reviewing B. ACKERMAN, WE THE PEOPLE (1993)).

Book Review, 10 CONST. COM. 194 (1992) (reviewing J. FISHKIN, DEMOCRACY AND DELIBERATION (1993)).


Controlling Congress: Presidential Influence in Domestic Fiscal Policy, 80 GEO. L.J. 1737 (1992) (with Inman).


Working Papers

Rethinking Separation of Powers from the Ground Up: The Political Dynamic of Separated Powers (U. Pa. Institute for Law and Economics) (Portions Presented at the Convention of the American Political Science Association) (148 pages).

The Budgetary Effects of the Voting Rights Act: Did VRA Make a Difference? (with Inman) (U. Pa. Institute for Law and Economics) (Portions Presented at the Convention of the American Political Science Association) (42 pages).  

President Fitts was inspired to pursue law partly by the iconic novel To Kill a Mockingbird and its themes of justice and virtue.

Soon after becoming president of Tulane, President Fitts met the only Tulane alumnus who serves as president of a country, Luis Guillermo Solís of Costa Rica.

President Fitts served as a legal counsel to the White House, President and Cabinet during parts of the administrations of both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

When President Fitts was in college, he joined a volunteer team of independent observers who helped calm a prison uprising.

President Fitts’ favorite sports hero is the baseball legend Hank Aaron. President Fitts once had the thrill of meeting Hank Aaron and hearing him tell stories about his career over lunch.

Although his job today puts him in a position where he might convene committees to examine different topics, one of President Fitts’ formative experiences as a student was serving on a committee to rethink the undergraduate curriculum. That involvement influenced his future career in higher education and leadership.