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The View from Shanghai

Friday, March 22, 2019

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Dear Tulane Community:

A word of advice. If you are hoping to do well in the Fitts Bit Challenge, which is heading into its final week, going to China won't help. Two 14-hour flights in three days really throw off your weekly step total – no matter how often you are told that you are "free to move about the cabin." Jet lag upon your return doesn't help either.

But I would not have missed last week's visit to the world's most populous country for anything. It was my first opportunity as president of Tulane to visit China and some of its growing number of Tulane students and alumni. I attended a large alumni reception and dinner and addressed a room overflowing both with admitted students and with love for Tulane. Our university is highly regarded in China. In fact, of the more than 1,200 international students at Tulane, more than half – 759 to be exact – come from China.

"Crossing Boundaries" has been the defining theme of my academic career. Crossing Boundaries means breaking down the divisions between fields and bringing the best knowledge, research and skills from a wide variety of disciplines to solve the most difficult problems facing our community and world. The internationalization of higher education, the literal crossing of boundaries between countries, communities and ideologies is also central to increasing understanding, empowering education and discovering solutions.

We encourage our students to learn from one another, to get to know those from different backgrounds – whether it's someone from another city, country or field of study. Why? Because true innovation happens when people from different backgrounds work together and combine their knowledge to discover something greater.

A Tulane education is a training in global citizenship. It is teaching students to live, grow and lead in a diverse, ever-evolving and interconnected world. This is why we encourage so many students to take part in joint degree programs with international universities and to study abroad – not only in China, but throughout the world. It's why we support Tulane faculty as they direct numerous overseas programs and carry out research in business, law, medicine, public health and more.

Our alumni also consistently place Tulane among the top Peace Corps volunteer-producing colleges and universities. On Wednesday, the Peace Corps announced that Tulane ranked No. 3 among medium-size schools on the agency's list of top volunteer-producing colleges and universities and, for the fifth consecutive year, ranked No. 1 among schools that produce volunteers from graduate programs. In fact, since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, nearly 600 Tulanians have served as volunteers. Currently, there are 44 undergraduate Tulane alumni and 20 graduate alumni making a difference in the lives of others and becoming global leaders by serving in the Peace Corps.

I told the prospective students I met with in China that they would find a welcoming, supportive community at Tulane and an interdisciplinary educational experience like none other. I hope to tell other international students the same thing. Our goal is to attract students the world over in order to solve problems all over the world.

Signature of Mike Fitts