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The Summit of Knowledge

Saturday, November 29, 2014

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Dear Tulane Community:

Using our academic expertise to confront important real-world problems -- that is what the future of higher education is all about. Tulane has been a leader in such efforts in the past and promises to be so in the years ahead.

I saw a wonderful example of this on Monday as Tulane co-hosted the inaugural U.S.-Israel Energy Summit. The conference brought together major Gulf Coast universities, energy industry leaders, elected officials and top Israeli academics and officials. Their purpose: to explore how industry and universities can work together on future technologies that address tomorrow's energy and environmental problems. The conference was the first step in establishing a U.S.-Israel Energy Center, which would further the collaboration between the United States and Israel on energy -- something that has flourished in recent years following large natural gas finds off Israel's coast.

This U.S.-Israeli initiative incorporates several of my long-term goals for Tulane: to promote interdisciplinary collaborations that address societal, economic and environmental challenges; to develop new areas of technological innovation where Tulane can make a real difference in the world; and to expand Tulane's global impact.

Tulane has so much to offer in all of these efforts. Societal problems almost never arrive these days neatly packaged or compartmentalized. Solutions are found at the intersection of disciplines, where the walls separating branches of knowledge are removed and collaborations between fields and institutions flourish.

When energy industry leaders, environmental scientists and law and business faculty collaborate like they did at this week's summit, when the boundaries between schools and subjects are crossed, great things happen. We not only create stronger institutions that answer critics' demands that higher education demonstrate its relevance in a society yearning for solutions, we help create a new and better world.

Among the many things that have impressed me since my arrival at Tulane are our incredibly hard-working and dedicated students, faculty and staff. They are all engaged daily in collaborative efforts, both locally and worldwide, in the same spirit as this week's summit. May you enjoy some well-deserved rest from these pursuits during the upcoming Labor Day weekend. You will need the respite in order to save your energy for next week's opening week events for Yulman Stadium!

 

Signature of Mike Fitts