Tulane Is 'Job One' in New Orleans

May 31, 2004

Mary Ann Travis
Phone: (504) 865-5714

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Creating them, keeping them, winning new ones. Jobs are the No. 1 domestic issue this year in almost every political race, national and local.

joboneWhat Louisiana state legislators--and other elected officials--ought to know, says Flozell Daniels Jr., executive director of state government affairs for Tulane, is that the university adds 50 to 100 new jobs every year.

"We are a growth industry." Tulane is the largest private employer in New Orleans and the fifth-largest in the state.

"We are a preferred employer," says Daniels. "We produce good jobs."

Daniels, along with president Scott Cowen, senior vice president for external affairs Yvette Jones, provost Lester Lefton, senior vice president for health science Paul Whelton and other Tulane officials, will be in the Louisiana state capitol rotunda on Wednesday, May 5, for Tulane Day at the Legislature.

They'll be spreading the word about Tulane's importance to the local economy. Much of the hard evidence about the university's economic impact comes from a report by Bill Oakland, professor of economics.

His firm, Oakland Econometrics, prepared the study in February that demonstrates Tulane is a "major player in the Louisiana and New Orleans economies." Oakland shows in the report that Tulane University and Hospital and Clinic produce an annual economic impact of $1.12 billion for the Louisiana economy, including $842 million for the city of New Orleans.

And he says those are conservative estimates. Oakland measured employment, earnings and spending by Tulane to arrive at the gross economic impact of the university on the state's economy. Tulane directly employs 8,000 people (6,000 at the university and 2,000 at the hospital and clinic) and pays $450 million in salaries and fringe benefits.

The university and hospital-clinic purchase $196 million in goods and services. Tulane invests approximately $21 million yearly in construction projects. All this spending by Tulane has a ripple effect across the Louisiana economy and spurs employment opportunities in several industries. Where Tulane is unique among Louisiana's institutions of higher education is that it brings in $360 million annually from more than 9,000 out-of-state students.

This is "fresh" money, says Oakland. Without Tulane in the state, this money would not flow here. To make his point, Oakland contrasts Tulane and other Louisi-ana universities and colleges to McDonalds's and other fast-food vendors. If McDonald's didn't have its franchise restaurants in the city, Burger King and Wendy's would pick up the business, hiring people, buying beef and buns. The absence of McDonald's would hardly be noticed in the economy of the city.

In higher education, however, the economic situation is different. If Tulane wasn't on the Louisiana higher education scene, the students it attracts nationwide and worldwide probably wouldn't attend college in Louisiana. In addition, Tulane's hospital-clinic serves more than 18,000 out-of-state patients every year. And its research programs are supported by $100 million in federal grants.

"Absent Tulane," says the Oakland report, "it is highly doubtful that these individuals or research grants would be drawn to other Louisiana educational or medical institutions."

Tulane as a highly selective research university is a hot product. Although it's not mentioned in Oakland's study, Tulane's undergraduate admission office reports that the number of students applying to Tulane continues to rise dramatically, allowing the university to become even more selective.

As of Feb. 13, Tulane had accepted 46 percent of the undergraduate applicants for fall 2004, compared to 78 percent accepted in 1999. This remarkable change in selectivity indicates that "the growth and demand for quality education is going up," says Oakland. And Tulane is ready to meet that demand, says Daniels. But it needs support from Louisiana government officials and the community at large "to help move us to the next level."

Students and faculty come to Tulane because it is a highly ranked research university--and it's been a leading institution in Louisiana for more than 170 years, says Daniels. Tulane students, faculty and staff do more than spend money that otherwise would not be spent in the state; they volunteer about 500,000 hours annually to community service.

"This is yet another way in which Tulane adds value to the community," says Daniels. The message that Daniels wants to convey at Tulane Day at the Legislature is: "Tulane is pleased to be one of Louisiana's leaders in economic development by means of its world-class research, academics and community service. More than ever, Tulane represents a great investment for Louisiana."

He adds, "We celebrate the support that Louisiana's elected leaders have provided in partnership with Tulane. It is a key ingredient in the continued progress of the university and the state."

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000