November 18, 2014
Phyllis Taylor (L '66) has announced a $15 million gift to Tulane University for a new Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking.
Photo courtesy of Phyllis Taylor
By Mike Strecker
Tulane Law School alumna Phyllis M. Taylor (L '66), chair of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation and a member of the Board of Tulane, has announced a $15 million gift to Tulane University to establish the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking.
The center will bring Tulane faculty, students and researchers from a wide array of disciplines together to work collaboratively on practical solutions to real-life problems in the environment, education, health care and more.
“The goal is to move Tulane to the forefront of universities engaged in solving social problems,” Taylor said. “And to do so with humility, recognizing that the best ideas often arise from the collective wisdom of the community and not always from the theoretical musings of experts.”
The Taylor Center will hire faculty who specialize in design thinking – the process of finding pragmatic, efficient and sustainable solutions to societal problems. These faculty members will work with current university faculty to develop an array of social innovation and social entrepreneurship courses that engage students in seeking solutions to social ills at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels.
“The Taylor Center will build on Tulane’s strength in addressing real-world problems through interdisciplinary collaboration,” Tulane President Mike Fitts said. “We are so grateful to Phyllis, a true visionary, for creating a center vital not only to the future of Tulane but to the future of our society.”
The center will also bring Taylor Social Innovation Fellows – world-renowned social entrepreneurs and practitioners – to Tulane as visiting professors. Tulane’s Grand Challenges, a series of contests established by Taylor that awards cash prizes to the best ideas for addressing environmental degradation and other world problems, will also be housed at the Taylor Center.
Taylor serves on the New Orleans Business Council, the Smithsonian National Board, the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, the Education Commission of the States, the Catholic Leadership Institute National Advisory Board and the Xavier University Board of Trustees.
Her numerous honors include the Dermot McGlinchey Lifetime Achievement Award from Tulane, induction into the Paul Tulane Society, the Alexis de Tocqueville Award from United Way, Integritas Vitae Award from Loyola University New Orleans, Distinguished Citizen Award from Southeast Louisiana Council of Boy Scouts of America, Business Hall of Fame Laureate from Junior Achievement and being named an Honorary Marine by the United States Marine Corps.
(Note: This story first appeared in Tulane University's New Wave.)