E-MAILS RECEIVED SINCE JAN. 1
Received Jan. 31:
My suggestion: do not change Newcomb College in any way.
I'm opposed to eliminating Newcomb College as an undergraduate school. Katrina has given Tulane the opportunity to control Mrs. Newcomb's endowment.
Hello, thanks for the work you're doing, I'm sure it will be fine. I don't know what to tell you regarding the Tulane and Newcomb name, other than to name something after them. I don't know how the women will feel if one of the two new schools is named Newcomb yet grants degrees to men. That's been proposed but I think it's sticky as you would be diluting the historic connection between Newcomb and women. If you don't do that, I think something needs to be done to make the women at Tulane feel distinct from the men, like a Newcomb Society that has powerful women speakers and events. My vision would be for a Newcomb Society in which all undergraduate women at Tulane are automatically considered members and invited to all events. Some Newcomb grad could speak to a mandatory orientation event in late August in which the undergrad women were officially welcomed/inducted to the group and told about the historic legacy of Newcomb. Perhaps give every woman a Newcomb shirt or Mignon Faget pin or nice brochure made by the NAA on Newcomb traditions and what it means to be woman of Newcomb at that time to raise awareness. Additionally any female-centric safety programming that is done at JL like identifying safe areas around campus, rape awareness, self-defense classes, etc. could be brought under the aegis of the Newcomb Society and expanded. Throughout the year the Newcomb Society would sponsor the Women in Science and other career events and have prominent speakers and other women-centric programming like they always have. The leadership and direction of the Society would be from the elected Newcomb Senate, thus continuing to provide leadership avenues for women. The website would be the forum for a dialogue on the woman's experience at Tulane and conduit between Newcomb Senate/general female population/Tulane administration on issues like public safety and link to other Newcomb sites like the Center for Research on Women and so on. The Newcomb Society concept could be a platform for an end-of-year event/luncheon near graduation at the Audubon Tea Room or somewhere larger, with a good speaker, awards for students who have contributed to campus life/women's education/women's issues (thus preserving the 1909 Award or whatever old awards/traditions need to be continued), the Daisy chain, etc. It could be a combination of whatever annual event the NAA holds and the undergraduate Awards, thus binding the two populations together. And I think the Newcomb donors would come through on the other side if they could squint their eyes right and believe that the separate/unique status of TU women and the celebration of TU women were still there, just not within a degree-granting apparatus. They would see that continued donations to the Newcomb Society (which would be a checkbox on future pledge cards) will directly enhance the female undergraduate experience at Tulane, as they always have.
As far as Tulane College, I don't think it matters much. To my mind this falls under "why isn't there a Congressional White Caucus?" Tulane College was made up out of thin air in 1993 and nobody seemed to care that A&S died. It's not like we ever did anything in school that made us feel distinct as TC students except pick up our free t-shirt and ice-cream cone one time. You could do whatever you wanted and adapt the above idea to TC, but the crux of the issue and the thing that has to be gotten right is making Newcomb women happy. Maybe do away with the frats and make all Tulane men join a Paul Tulane secret society a la Skull and Bones or some such. Ha. Good luck.
I am a third generation Newcomb alum. I would like Newcomb College to keep its identity so other young women can have a complete well rounded education as well as the experience of being part of amall college within the center of a major university.
I was deeply saddened to learn of the "Renewal Plan," announced on
December 8th (my birthday!), which includes the discontinuation of Newcomb College. I graduated from Newcomb College in May 2005. During my time at Newcomb, I served as Newcomb Student Body President and a member of the Dean's Student Advisory Council, in addition to participating in countless other Newcomb student groups. On December 8th, I was in the library at Brown University, working on a paper for one of my graduate school courses. I received numerous calls from Newcomb friends and acquaintances to discuss the "Renewal Plan." "What does it mean?" they wanted to know. I didn't know what this "Renewal Plan" meant for Newcomb, or for me, but I do know that the very notion of ending Newcomb College made me cry.
I would like to share with the Newcomb/Tulane Task Force what I do know about Newcomb College.
First, I know that I would not have accepted admission to Tulane
University if Newcomb College did not exist. After a troublesome first year, I would not have stayed at Tulane if the Newcomb Community had not been there to encourage me.
I know that Newcomb College was the first degree granting coordinate college for women in America and it became the model for other universities, including Pembroke and Brown. As a current graduate student at Brown University, where Pembroke College was merged with the University in 1971, I know that female students have no connection with Pembroke. There is a Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, and some of the Gender Studies concentrators know that Pembroke once existed as a separate entity, but there is no community. Female students do not know about, nor identify with, the legacy of Pembroke.
I know that Newcomb College truly maintains an independent identity as a woman's college.
I know that despite all of our best efforts to keep Newcomb's legacy and tradition alive, the true spirit of a woman's college cannot shine when it is usurped by the larger University.
I know that Newcomb students identify with a community that fosters their academic and personal growth and provides countless opportunities for them to develop confidence and leadership skills in a nurturing environment.
I know that Newcomb College ensures that women receive the greatest number of leadership opportunities, the most personal attention, and the greatest freedom to realize their potential by participating in uniquely Newcomb programs.
I know that the Newcomb College community challenged and nurtured me to become the person I am today. The women at Newcomb College, both peers and mentors, provided opportunities for me to develop the leadership skills and self confidence that I will rely on throughout my life.
I know that Newcomb women are afforded increased opportunities by participating in Newcomb College student government, and other programs, clubs, and events focused on women's issues. As a student at Newcomb College, I realized the importance of this coordinate college for women, and how this independent identity continues to improve the education of women. Without Newcomb College, women students at Tulane University will be at a major disadvantage.
I know that Newcomb students benefit from an office of Newcomb Student Programs, which assures the availability of clubs and programs aimed at women's interests. Newcomb Student Programs coordinates safety programming, a Senate, a mentoring program, a women in sciences group, and a number of honor societies, among many other clubs and services.
I know that Newcomb College supports students financially in their efforts to initiate programs, organize events, create clubs, travel abroad, and engage in community service. Newcomb students also have access to a plethora of fellowships, grants, research opportunities and financing for national programs including PLEN.
I know that in addition to current opportunities, Newcomb College maintains many traditions that have lasted since the early days of the college, such as the Daisy Chain (one of the last in the country), and the Newcomb Pinning Ceremony.
I know that the Newcomb Alumnae Association works to preserve the traditions and enrich the community of Newcomb College through projects such as the Newcomb Town Mom Program and the Semester Study Abroad Scholarship.
I know that Newcomb College provides myriad opportunities for women at Tulane University. With the announcement of the end of Newcomb College, Tulane University also announces the end of its support of women. Although the university promises to maintain its commitment to the traditions and mission of Newcomb College, I fear that this task is impossible. With so many women role models and mentors, combined with the financial and emotional support available to women at Newcomb, the demise of Newcomb College is another tragedy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Thank you for your efforts during this difficult time, if you can save any or all of the wonderful things I know about Newcomb, it would ease the burden.
If there is anything I can do to support your efforts, please let me know.
I have read with interest many of the responses you have received. I support the group that wants to maintain Newcomb College whole heartedly. I treasure Newcomb and feel it is an essential institution to the success of women in the world today and tomorrow. Women have not made that many gains for you to put Newcomb to bed.
What's more, for you to take the moneys in trust for Newcomb College and use them for any other purpose is wrong.
Each time I have donated to Tulane's annual fund I have requested it go to Newcomb. I will not feel compelled to donate another cent if there is no Newcomb. While the dollars may not be significant, the gesture on my part has been. I do plan some day to donate much more to Newcomb and Newcomb only. I do have it in our wills but will change it because there will be no sense of affiliation or emotional ties with the school anymore.
Please be careful with what you do with the Newcomb legacy and future. It would be sad and embarassing if the Board of Directors don't figure out a way to keep Newcomb alive and allow it to go the way of so many fabulous institutions devoted to educating women.
Keep Newcomb alive and drop this issue for good this time please!!!!!
As I approach the 50th anniversary of my graduation this May, I am saddened to learn that this may be the last year that my college will exist. I realize that the Newcomb I attended was far different from the college my mother graduated from in the 20s and that many more changes had been made by the time my youngest daughter, a Dean's Honor Scholar, graduated in 1994. However, even though her classes were much more co-educational than mine (I did not cross Freret to attend class until my junior year) she was still able to spend her freshman year in Josephine Louise and enjoy many of the traditions that set women's schools apart.
I have spent the better part of my adulthood in Virginia, probably the last bastion of single sex education. My older daughter graduated from Randolph Macon Woman's College, Hollins (now a university with a coed graduate school) is on the other end of town and Sweetbriar and Hampton Sydney ("where men are men and women are guests") are right up the road. Sophie Newcomb, as it is always called in these parts, is universally mentioned with great respect.
I plan to come back to New Orleans for my 50th anniversary in May. I can only hope that my college will still be there to welcome me.
As a 2001 graduate of Newcomb college, I was, of course, disappointed when I read that Tulane University had decided to dissolve Newcomb College in its renewal plan. However, the Hurricane Katrina coverage in the press made the future of New Orleans and of Tulane seem precarious at best, so I assumed that this was an effort which was being undertaken in a last resort attempt to save the university.
When I attended the Newcomb in New York meeting on the issue, I expected to hear a lot of bleak news, particularly about the University's financial situation, which I did. A member of the University administration spoke at length about the fact that the University was likely going to owe $150 to 200 million dollars. She then told us how the Newcomb endowment contained $35 million dollars and how eliminating Newcomb would end redundencies in the University structure.
Throughout the whole meeting, I really believed that this was a financial decision and everything that she presented was financial information. However, after the presentation ended, I asked her privately whether the Newcomb endowment pays for Newcomb staff, programs, and projects. She told me that it did. I confirmed with her that in fact, financially, Newcomb is self-supporting. I then asked her "well, then how is the University going to save money by doing this? Are they going to take the funds from the Newcomb endowment which presently pay for those things?" Her answer was no. She said the money would go to pay for programs like the Newcomb programs for all women in the University.
When I left the meeting, I was left puzzled and wondering why, if this isn't saving the University money, the University would close Newcomb?
Well, I have come to only one conclusion. Newcomb is being closed simply because Dr. Cowen has an idea of how the university should be structured and Newcomb isn't a part of his vision. This isn't being done because of Katrina or because of money. They are eliminating our school because it doesn't fit the legacy Scott Cowen hopes to create.
I find this decision particularly puzzling because during my tenure at Tulane and afterward, Dr. Cowen worked to create Tulane traditions because Tulane has historially been weak in that area, subsequently leading to low levels of alumnae involvement. In particular, he ended the practice of allowing students to pick whatever class ring they wanted and instituted a University-wide school ring. He also instituted the University-wide commencement, both presumably in the hopes of increasing alumnae loyalty and strenthening university identity. Now, Newcomb is a University entity which is probably the single strongest Tulane entity in terms of traditions and alumnae identity, and the University is choosing to dismantle it for no tangible reason other than that it makes the undergraduate experience fit better on an organizational chart. And, even more despicably, Dr. Cowen is using the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina to do it.
At one point in her presentation, the University administrator who spoke to us mentioned that we, as New Yorkers, should know better than anyone that in times of tragedy tough decisions have to be made. However, just like with 9/11, I feel that there are those who use a tragedy to push their own agenda and to make changes which under normal circumstances they would have neither the support nor the capacity to do. I believe this is precisely what Dr. Cowen is doing.
I would like to preserve Newcomb College at any cost. The experience was invaluable to me and the Newcomb heritage is something I will treasure. We need that recognition!
It is obvious that all the decisions have been made and it does not matter one wit what anyone has to say about it. It seems that you and the others have been used as the ''window dressing" to make alumnae feel they have a voice.
I graduated from Newcomb college in May of 2005. It's hard to believe that it was almost a year ago! I am now in graduate school at The University of Alabama studying counseling. As I get to know my colleagues and hear stories about their undergraduate experience, I can't help but feel bad for them because they did not have the GREAT experience that I did as a Newcomb undergraduate. They did not feel the sense of a community or tradition as I did being a "Newcomb girl." They did not get to have a big sister to "show them the ropes." They do not get to tell their friends that there is pottery created by talented Newcomb girls that is shown all over the world (I saw some in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London this summer!!). But most importantly, they do not get to tell their friends and family that they attended the best undergraduate experience, which not only has prepared them academically for what life throws them, but has also given them some of the best friends they will ever have.
My Newcomb Mignon Faget ring is one of my prized possessions that is not only a great conversation piece about Newcomb, but is a symbol of my past, present, and future loves. I think the Universtiy is doing itself a disservice by taking away the tradtions that are VERY dear to a lot of peoples' hearts. Sure, some people think having seperate men's and women's liberal arts colleges is dumb and pointless, but they will never and can never understand what it means to the people that attended it. It's about friends, a "home away from home," and tradition.
Please listen with an open mind and an open heart to all the e-mails and phone calls people send to you about Newcomb. It's very upsetting for the people that actually attended this college to have it suddenly vanish! Keeping the name "Newcomb" is not nearly the same as keeping the undergraduate college. Is there any other answer to the situation?
Thanks to all of you for the hard work that has occurred thus far and that which will be required going forward to preserve the Newcomb name, tradition, spirit, and purpose. As a proud 2003 graduate of Newcomb College and a current law student, I can say that being a part of a 120 year tradition made its impact on me before I arrived in New Orleans and continues to do so to this day. The first time I realized the Newcomb's significance was when I told my favorite high school English teacher, a Yale Ph.D, that I would be attending Tulane. She responded with, "you'll be in Sophie Newcomb! That's wonderful!" I had yet to know why she was so excited, but soon found out.
Throughout my years in Newcomb the community and opportunities that the college provided were well beyond what my other friends had at traditional, completely coed colleges experienced. From Celebrate Newcomb Week to visiting friends in Josephine Louise, there were wonderful moments when it seemed like Newcomb really was a world of its own. I joined the Mortar Board and was proud to represent one of the only remaining female chapters. As a women's college, our chapter could remain single sex, much in the spirit of its founding members, while coed colleges were required to seek male membership since the 1970s. This unique quality encouraged the Mortar Board to run a leadership conference for middle school girls throughout New Orleans. Available to public and private school girls alike, the day of interactive programs was an enormous success and gave the young leaders projects to take back to their schools, create change, and let us know what they had achieved.
Although the Mortar Board was a lasting and important part of my particularly Newcomb experience, my final and most lasting memory was shared with my entire class. Graduation, with all of its New Orleans and Tulane flair, truly blossomed with the Newcomb ceremony. The daisy chain, the hooding, the blue and brown, the daisies on our mortar boards, it was all part of a long, proud tradition. I cherish that ceremony and am glad to have been a part of something so unique for four wonderful years.
Even now, in law school at the University of Maryland, I benefit from my Newcomb heritage. Last spring I received a fellowship from the Women, Leadership and Equality Program at the law school. In my application essay I incorporated my experiences at Newcomb, the leadership that I learned there, and the values that a coordinate women's college could provide. This fellowship encompasses many of the same goals that I believe Newcomb College embraces: to prepare and educate young women to achieve the most in whatever capacity they choose. Newcomb gave me the background to fully appreciate this wonderful fellowship experience, to eagerly anticipate my rapidly approaching career, and the sense of gratitude for the women that have done so before me.
Although I understand that Tulane has to make some drastic changes to remain the outstanding institution that it has been for so long, please keep in mind the importance of the unique and valuable experience that Newcomb has offered for so long.
Received Jan. 30:
Why not set up two new residential colleges: Newcomb College for women and Tulane College for men. Students who wish to have a single gender experience can enter these colleges and continue the traditions and spirit as before. The residential center for Newcomb
College could be JL Hall. If too many student request either college, then additional colleges could be formed, such as H. Sophie Newcomb College, Josephine Louise College, etc. The focus of the residential colleges could be women's studies or other programs which are now offered in the present Newcomb College. The same could be done for the all male Paul Tulane Residential College. I hope this is helpful. Thank you.
I am a 1955 graduate of Newcomb College. Many of my family members also graduated from Newcomb: my mother (1917), my sister (1947), three aunts, and my sister-in-law (1947).
Newcomb meant a lot to me than and still does today. I had sonderful mentors at Newcomb, especially Miss Many, Dean Hubbard, and my two aunts, Dagmar LeBreton and Gladys Renshaw, who were on the Newcomb faculty for many years.
Many friends that I made then are my close friends today, fifty years later. Newcomb helped form my personality and gave me experience and leadership skills that I have definitely put to use in my adult life.
Even though I am a class agent, it will be hard for me to donate to Tulane if there is no Newcomb College.
Please do everything you can to preserve Newcomb.
Received Jan. 29:
"Traditions" at Tulane? As I was taught by my worthy alma mater, Newcomb College, traditions become meaningless when we erode or eliminate the core source which inspired them. Why are we even discussing the preservation of the "traditions" of Newcomb College when the soul of our College, founded to create a premier undergraduate experience for women, is being torn asunder? If the BOA is determined to move forward with this ill conceived notion of merging Tulane's separate colleges into a homogeneous single entity, indistiguishable from the 1,000s of other undergraduate institutions around the country, why bother attempting to preserve the rites, ceremonies and name of Newcomb at all?
When I applied to Newcomb College, I did so because I wanted an undergraduate experience that valued, nurtured and sustained women within the context of a co-educational society. At that time in my life, I viewed this as the ideal structure, as it educated women in preparation for living and working in a dual-gendered world. I still feel this way. This is precisely the structure which makes the Newcomb/Tulane model so uniquely valuable AND which sets it apart from other educational institutions. Not only does this structure greatly benefit the 21st century student, it also allows the colleges to occupy an academic niche which has and can continue to serve as a powerful admissions draw to incomming freshman- both men and women.
As a postscript I would also like to add that few things have made me prouder to be an alumna of Newcomb College than to watch and read the comments from my fellow alumnae. Look what a wonderful, diverse, well-educated and dynamic group of women we have all become! And to think that we all received our initial training in public discourse from a single alma mater! Nothing serves as a greater testiment to the value of a Newcomb education than reading through our collective thoughts and heart-felt wishes for Josephine Louise's enduring legecy. Thank you Newcomb College! Here is hoping that your traditions, which meaningfully reflect the accomplishments and pride of over a century of Newcomb graduates, shall vibrantly continue well into the next century!
If the real value of Newcomb is to live into the future, then it must be in more than name only. I have spent my career working with and now advising companies on matters of brand equity, and I too believe deeply that brands only maintain their relevance when they deliver real value to their constituents. Newcomb will cease to have the same value for its constituents unless it delivers real value in the ways you have described. It is about the culture of the experience going forward, not the history alone. We can only keep it alive if a critical mass of its dedicated resources and programs remain so and continue to serve its women.
Received Jan. 28:
I graduated from Tulane in 1986. I am DELIGHTED that President Cowen is dissolving that anachronism "Newcomb College" from the University. It is a holdover from an era that was obsolete thirty years ago. I have always considered myself a TULANE graduate, NOT a Newcomb graduate. I wasn't allowed to choose a professor in my major as my advisor because he was on the "Tulane" faculty!! It was ridiculous.
Good luck to Dr. Cowen on holding his ground against all those society women in white gloves and hats, who have no concept of the real world!
My family has had a long history with Tulane University. Two great uncles finished in medicine, my Father was Medicine Class of 1922 and was class agent for years and I finished Newcomb in 1954. What Katrina has done to New Orleans is most tragic but taking away the fine name that Newcomb College has stood for over the past decades is totally unnecessary. I cannot believe that in so doing, the University is saving money. Please give this move further consideration. The fine relationship between Tulane and Newcomb has been one of the fine traditions that we have held dear in New Orleans.
Let's keep Newcomb, Newcomb!!!!!!!
While reading the postings on your website, I was struck by one thing: Mrs. Newcomb would be proud of the product her vision has produced.
From the beginning Newcomb College taught her students not to fear the road less travelled --- and perhaps that has made all the difference.
I hope you will find a way that encourages future female students to continue to make a difference.
Received Jan. 27:
When I first heard about the renewal plan I was too shocked to comment. Then I felt that I needed additional information before submitting suggestions. Like many others who have submitted suggestions, my family is rich with Tulane's influence. I have degrees from both Newcomb (87) and Freeman (89), and once served on the TABA board. My Ph.D. in Management and International Business from NYU's Stern School of Business provides me with the tools of organization science with which to analyze the situation objectively. Upon request I can provide academic references for the assertions below. Therefore, after much research, discussion and thought I submit the following:
Hurricane Katrina was devastating not only for Tulane U., Newcomb College and New Orleans but also for the Gulf Coast where many supportive alums, current students and potential students live. Tulane certainly incurred a short-term cash flow problem, and most likely some intermediate-term financial challenges. However, it has become quite clear that the elimination of Newcomb College is not due to the college's financial drain on the university (because is not a financial drain) but rather to a 'grand vision'. Framing Newcomb College's elimination in terms of the financial crisis is disingenuous at best.
As numerous alumnae/i have stated, Newcomb College continues to be one of the strongest units at Tulane. She has a strong organizational culture, an intense organizational identity and a great reputation. Her staff are dedicated and qualified with lower turn-over rates than most Tulane units. Newcomb is a source of sustainable competitive advantage for Tulane. Like other sources of sustainable competitive advantage, our college's qualities are rare, valuable, difficult to imitate and take time to develop.
Destroying Newcomb to make Tulane stronger is inconsistent. Developing a new Tulane identity, culture and reputation will take far longer than the fragmentation and dissolution of Newcomb. To put this decision in a for-profit context, it would be like P&G eliminating the Tide or Pampers brands to bolster its corporate brand, identity and reputation. It is not necessary to sacrifice Newcomb to save Tulane. On the contrary, Tulane can refocus by building on Newcomb's strengths.
The pretense of saving traditions of Paul Tulane and Newcomb Colleges, is itself an illusion. Fragmentation of Newcomb's programs across Housing and Residence Life, Student Affairs, etc. will fragment their positive effects. Eliminating the college while keeping a few of her traditions and symbols is not maintaining the Newcomb 'spirit'. Although Newcomb College students and alumnae proudly wear the acorn and oak tree as symbols of her influence, these are merely artifacts of her culture and identity. Her positive influence will fade away as most traditions do.
I, therefore, propose that the ill-named undergraduate college (UC) remain two parallel units. All undergraduate female students would be enrolled in Newcomb College. All undergraduate males would be enrolled in Paul Tulane College. The two colleges would maintain their separate Deans and programming. My knowledge of the financial issues suggests that the difference in cost-savings between this plan and the official plan are minor. Hence, Newcomb College continues as more than the sum of her parts. She expands to include all 4 years of Freeman females (as Freeman female undergraduates until recently were enrolled in Newcomb for their first two years), architecture females and engineering females. This may challenge Newcomb programming a bit as additional students will require additional funds, Town Moms, etc. However, I am sure that Newcomb alumnae would support this effort. In fact, I pledge my associate's level gift for this purpose. In addition, I would reinitiate my discussion with Tatine Frater, Newcomb's Development Officer, to fund an award at graduation in memory of my mother who loved Newcomb very much. Tatine and I began this conversation during the endowment drive, and tabled due to Katrina.
The decision to eliminate Newcomb College was made under duress with incomplete information. I believe that the Task Force has the ability and obligation to recognize these conditions and suggest an amendment to the renewal plan. I hope that the Task Force and the remaining members of the Board of Administrators RENEW my confidence in their decision making, so I can continue to support the university as a donor, member of the Alumni Admissions Committee, etc.
I write to you from Japan with a very heavy heart. I want to impress upon you the importance that Newcomb College, as a separate, independent college, played in the success of my life thus far. Newcomb College, as I am sure you know, was the first degree-granting college for women within a university in the United States. Its original focus was for the higher education of women. In 2005 perhaps some would say that this mission has been completed and as a result Newcomb College is no longer needed, but as a Class of 1996 Newcomb Graduate, I am here to tell you that those people could not be more wrong.
Despite the fact that this is 2006, women are still not equal to men in regards to earnings in the workforce. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (www.iwpr.org), women’s annual earnings, relative to men’s, have moved up more slowly since the early 1990s then previously, and still remain substantially below parity. In 2004, median annual earnings for women working full-time year-round were $31,223. Men with similar work effort earned $40,798. Comparing weekly earnings, “the gender wage ratio has improved by more then eight percentage points since 1990 and now stands at 80.4%.” This very disappointing statistic surely supports the idea that Newcomb College, with its focus on higher education for women and developing female leadership skills, is very much applicable and desperately needed today.
My own experience at Newcomb College afforded me the chance to develop my skills not only personally, but also professionally. The Office of Student Programs and the services they offered were vital to my development both as a young woman and as a future leader. Upon arriving on campus as a freshman, I was greeted by my Daisy Chain big sister. She was part of a dedicated group of upperclass(wo)men who opened my eyes to the importance of sisterhood and networking with other up-and-coming young female leaders. This immediate contact left a strong impression on me and in the fall of my first year, I participated in the Newcomb Leadership Conference. At this retreat, I studied various leadership themes through not only theoretical instruction, but with practical application. At this conference I met the future leaders of the Class of 1996 including the future President of Newcomb Senate, the future President of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, and the future President of the Associated Student Body, just to name a few. This conference offered me the chance to form a strong bond with other strong young women on campus. At the conclusion of my freshmen year, I was selected for Alpha Lamba Delta (honor society).
As I matured as a student and woman, I became more active in other Newcomb programs. I was honored to be selected to help with Daisy Chain when I was an upperclass(wo)men. I also participated in Mortar Board and in my senior year I was elected as a Newcomb Senator. But the greatest honor that was bestowed on me was being elected Newcomb Class Speak for 1996. It was truly a wonderful moment to not only get to address my fellow Newcomb classmates, but to also get to meet and speak to Newcomb Alumnae who had graduated years before me. Those strong wonderful women could address and connect with us, the young, female leaders of tomorrow. Because of the guidance and assistance I was offered through my experience at Newcomb College, I decided to further my education at law school.
My connection with Newcomb began the minute I stepped on to the Newcomb campus and continues to this day. Whenever I am asked where I attended university, I always say, “Newcomb College of Tulane University.” When I apply for jobs, I also write that my degree came from “Newcomb College of Tulane University.” When I receive notices from the Alumnae Office about donations, I always give specifically to Newcomb College and to Newcomb College only. That is the powerful connection I feel about my time at Newcomb College and the wonderful experience I was allowed to have there. It also reflects the great sense of gratitude I feel toward my College. I regret that there is a chance that future generations of young women will not have the same fantastic opportunities that I did as an undergraduate. My undergraduate years at Newcomb College were some of the best of my life. I know that is solely due to the wonderful programs, services, and guidance offered by Newcomb College through its Dean’s Office and the Office of Student Programs. I implore this Task Force to preserve Newcomb College as a separate degree-granting college within Tulane University. That is how Josephine Louise Le Monnier Newcomb wanted it back in 1886 and it is definitely something we still need today in 2006.
Thank you for you reading my comments and I hope I have clearly impressed upon you the powerful impact that Newcomb College had on my education as well as my life. I also hope you understand that the mission of Josephine Louise Le Monnier Newcomb is not completed and that Newcomb College should be preserved to help nurture future women leaders of not only New Orleans, Louisiana, and the United States, but also the world.
Newcomb College is the reason of my support for Tulane. It should not be done away with---hold on to Newcomb!
It is so very important to. Keep our beloved Newcomb college as Newcomb. The college we all loved so much. I was a member of the class of 1954 and my husband a member of M 55 and he was also President of the Tulane Medical Alums. I was a Tulane cheerleader in the early 5O's so our hearts are with Newcomb and Tulane..
As a Newcomb alum I was very sorry to hear in your december 13 letter that Newcomb is no more. No matter how many "Newcomb" names remain attached to programs and buildings, the loss of such a venerable and unique institution is stunning and to me, it seems, unjustifiable.
Received Jan. 26:
As I read the Renewal Plan, I can't help but believe that Mrs. Josephine Louis Le Monnier Newcomb must be rolling over in her grave! The college she created as a memorial to her beloved daughter will cease to exist despite having overcoming numerous obstacles in the early years and surviving several university attacks to absorb the college and its endowment into Tulane.
If by some miracle Mrs. Newcomb were here today, she certainly would be saying, "I told you so," for in the earliest days of Newcomb College, she had her doubts about the Administrators and then President William Preston Johnston. She suspected their misuse of funds so much that she set up a "special" fund of $300,000 over which only President Brandt Dixon, a Newcomb Board member (Joseph Morris) and her attorney (Joseph Hincks) would serve as trustees, thus keeping the funds away from the Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund and President Johnston.
Completely convinced of the misuse of funds, Mrs. Newcomb had her attorneys send a letter to the Board requesting they return all of her donated funds and the property purchased in the name of Newcomb College. At the same time, Dixon, along with her New York business agents were made joint trustees of the entire estate, which was to be effective as soon as she received all of the property back from the College.
After Johnston's death in 1899, she became convinced the Administrators and the Office of the President were using Newcomb funds for Tulane purposes and was angered that Dixon was not chosen as President of Tulane. She threatened to leave the school with only the $300,000 and go to Thomasville, Georgia and start an entirely new institution.
Fortunately for all of us who followed the daisy chain to graduation,
Dixon was able to convince Mrs. Newcomb to continue her support of our College.
I entered Tulane as a freshman, enrolled in Engineering, yet another school being destroyed under this Renewal Plan. By the end of my first year, I realized I really didn't want to be an engineer and transferred over to Newcomb. I never went through the traditional Newcomb pinning and never truly embraced all that was Newcomb at the time. I never even lived on Newcomb's campus. Why? Most of this was OPTIONAL. You chose whether to participate, and let's face it: to college sophomores, juniors and seniors often have higher priorities than hanging out in the women's research center. By my sophomore year, I moved off campus to avoid Bruff food and to be able to study in peace and quiet.
What I -got from Newcomb despite my independence was this:
Yes, we had coed classes, but in almost every subject, we looked at gender. We were asked time and time again to consider issues, policies, ideology, etc from both male and female perspectives. We were taught to approach things with an open mind and from the other gender's point of view. I know you don't get that anywhere else.
We were taught to speak up and express our opinions. WOMEN IN GENERAL DON'T DO THIS. At Newcomb it was ENCOURAGED. Our professors gave us a voice. There was no wrong answer. As long as you could justify what you thought using the research and logical theories to back your opinion, it was accepted.
Today, I work in a primarily male dominated profession. The women who are in my profession often sit back and let the men take charge. They don't provide input, don't speak up when they have an idea, will wait until all the men are gone to say something. I don't because that's not what I was taught.
Mrs. Newcomb asked the Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund to establish Newcomb College to educate women in both the practical side of life as well as literary excellence, and I can say they achieved her goal with me.
Now my fear is that young women entering Newcomb will become like all other young women at coed state colleges around the country, except for ONE BIG THING: THEY WILL BE PAYING FOR AN EDUCATION THEY ARE NOT GETTING!!! They will not be able to experience the special programming of Newcomb designed to empower women. They will not be assigned female advisors who provide guidance before they leave to face life after college. And more importantly, they will not get to experience the spirit of Newcomb - something that has survived more assassination attempts than Fidel Castro.
It is truly a sad day, when the University President, who has no respect for what Newcomb College stand for, both educationally and historically, makes a decision to kill that spirit. Tulane University and Newcomb College are quickly becoming a cookie cutter look-a-like of so many northeast colleges, focusing on economics and finance, just as our country is becoming a producer of services as opposed to manufacturing goods.
I truly hope this Task Force will look beyond traditions and names on buildings to the core of what Newcomb College began as, grew to become, and should always remain - a place to educate women in both the practical side of life and literary excellence.
As a loyal and grateful Newcomb alum ('53, which I realize is waaay before most of the current Tulane decision-makers were born), faithful donor, reunion attendee (from Hawaii, so I'm SERIOUS about my loyalty!) and continual Tulane/Newcomb promoter, I am totally horrified and disgusted at the proposed dumping of Newcomb as a recognizable entity in Tulane University.
I have read lovely phrases about new beginnings, strengthening of positions, enriching of resources, etc. ad nauseam, but it all translates to grabbing the assets, scuttling longtime tangible and emotional ties and a total homogenization of a unique educational experience. The overused phrase "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind. I have watched with pride Newcomb grow in breadth of educational opportunities for bright young women, and am continually delighted when I mention where I went to college and people actually know of Newcomb and speak of it with high regard. Even before I attended Newcomb I was told by college counselors that Newcomb was the crown jewel of Tulane University. And you folks intend to dump that??!! Unbelievable!
For several years now Tulane has been slowly creeping toward eliminating Newcomb as a separate college, but the groundswell from students, faculty and alumnae had, we thought, made the decision-makers back off. Then, tragically, Katrina brought the horrible devastation to our (I say "our" for all of us out-of-towners who truly love the city, even though we don't reside there) beloved New Orleans. Our hearts and our wallets have poured out to Tulane in its hour of need. I now feel personally betrayed by the university.
The cockeyed plan of the formation of Undergraduate College (What a non-descriptive, non-distinctive name!! ) appears to have been opportunistically made in post-Katrina times to do what Tulane has wanted to do: absorb Newcomb once and for all. To offer the pablum of retaining the name of Newcomb Art School, Newcomb Hall, etc., is insultingly patronizing. Pul-lease!! Do you think that those pats-on-the-head of the angry hordes assuages the gut disgust we feel??!!
I have read all the comments on your web page, and so many worthwhile suggestions were made by clearly brilliant Newcomb graduates that I had decided that their protests were sufficient. Finally I decided that they were just too nice and weren't calling this plan what it is: A grabbing of Newcomb's considerable assets, the ability to cut several salaries and to dumb down the entire university.
Newcomb, you will live in the hearts and minds of many of us forever. Unfortunately I believe that's the only places you will live.
I am a 1953 graduate of the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College for Women. The four years I spent on that campus were four of the most treasured years of my life. The whole atmosphere of the College promoted excellent learning opportunities in every way. The instruction and interest in the liberal arts by a superb faculty, the opportunities for friendships with other women who harbored an appreciation of the College, the extracurricular activities and wonderful traditions on campus all contributed to the formation of memories that are priceless, especially in these, my later years.
The College was endowed by Mrs. Newcomb in memory of her daughter as a separate entity and should be retained as such. To do otherwise is wrong. I realize that the College is part of Tulane University, but Newcomb should never be absorbed completely as stated by the BOA. I do not believe that the University has the right to take the endowment and simply retain the name of Newcomb on buildings
There are many who believe as I do. Publicity of the course of action taken by the Board has not been seen by thes eyes in THE TIMES PICAYUNE for public knowledge. I also believe that the Task Force public forum has not received enough publicity. I am hoping that many alumnae will be at Dixon Hall tomorrow to voice opinions, but many whom I have contacted were not aware of it before my call.
At any rate, I stand for Newcomb College as is or as before, not to be joined and known simply as The Undergraduate College.
Our Newcomb traditions are too important in the lives of young women to be ignored. As our Alma Mater states - and, yes, we do have one -"O Alma Mater, stand we nigh, Thy daughters lift thy flag on high."
Tulane has suffered damages and setbacks from hurricane Katrina. My heart was broken when I visited New Orleans to see the damage firsthand. I want to help the University rebuild, but I am not supportive of the Renewal Plan passed by the Board of Administrators. I have difficulty believing the cost-savings associated with the merger of Tulane College and Newcomb College is so substantial as to justify destroying the unique character of Newcomb.
Newcomb College was founded with the intent of educating women. Newcomb College is a stellar example of strong academics, leadership development and community involvement. She has stood strong and proud for one hundred and twenty years, teaching and passing on her traditions and wisdom to its students and graduates. She is an excellent "product" to be marketed for undergraduate and graduate education. Newcomb's unique position as the women's college in a coordinate college system of a large university affords its students the best of both worlds.
As you gather in the next few days, I strongly urge you to re-examine the data used to make your decision. You will find that 52% of the student body are women, Newcomb enrollment continues to grow and its operational costs are low. Newcomb's finances are sound and her endowment is strong. You will find that while there are indeed savings associated with a merger, they are not enough to justify what will be lost.
You will also find that alumnae give back to their college. We contribute so that Newcomb can continue educating future generations of young women. It is a cyclical tradition - women learning, women teaching, women giving. I have a hard time believing you will secure the financial contributions of one hundred and twenty years of alumnae who learn their alma mater no longer is a women's college. I beg you to reconsider your actions.
Newcomb was established with a Trust that requires Newcomb to be seperate and contain S. Newcomb's name as a women's college. Just because Tulane would enjoy the legacy that does not change the Trust that has endowed Newcomb as a seperate college. If Tulane takes over, the Trust can be desolved and the money gone. Newcomb is a seperate women's college and must remain as such!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am a Newcomb Graduate-------------not Tulane.
Received Jan. 25:
I fail to see how big-time public-university-style Division I athletics were somehow in line with Tulane's mission as an institution and could not be eliminated, yet all Engineering programs save Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering were cut without even half as much deliberation or solicitation of public feedback as was given athletics.
Tulane Engineering is and was regarded as "tiny but mighty" in research, and moreover, as a great program for undergraduates. It's also known as one of the Engineering programs that appeals most to women. It's also no secret that Engineering helps to sustain, through service courses, several liberal arts and sciences departments such as Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry. Will those departments--cornerstones of the liberal arts--be halved in size next? Will the Physics PhD program be eliminated, undoubtedly triggering the departure of the active researchers in the department for greener pastures?
In ways far more profound than merging Tulane and Newcomb, the Engineering cuts will be a drastic detriment to academic life at Tulane. Yet the Tulane/Newcomb merger was broadcast to alumni, whereas the administration is keeping quiet about eliminating most engineering programs. The relative silence regarding the matter gives the appearance of improbity.
We would appreciate if students who matriculated for a BA or BS form Newcomb COllege could receive their degree from Newcomb College - at least current sophomores, juniors, and seniors. They chose not only Tulane but also Newcomb.
We woud appreciate if annual awards, scholarships and women's round-tables would bare the Newcomb name.
The most important Newcomb traditions were seen in the Newcomb gallery and during graduation. Even though students will no longer be graduating from Newcomb college, the task force needs to find a way to incorporate as many Newcomb traditions into the college graduation ceremony as possible.
Has there been talk of keeping a Newcomb college just not keeping it a liberal arts college. What if Newcomb college offered majors in fine arts?
I read a few posts that suggested naming the undergraduate college Newcomb College. I think the history of Newcomb would be lost in that move.
I recently received a mailer seeking donations to Tulane. Having graduated from both Newcomb and the Law School, I care a great deal about Tulane and had every intention of sending a donation. However, Mr. Cowan's actions in dismantling both Newcomb and the majority of the engineering programs caused me to change my mind. I will be sending the donation/pledge card back with a monetary amount pledged, accompanied by a statement that the money will be sent WHEN, and only when, the decisions regarding Newcomb and Engineering are reversed. I am a graduate of Newcomb and am quite distressed over Mr. Cowan's seemingly rash decisions regarding that institution. I have no connection to the engineering program but it doesn't take a genius to realize that Cowan's decision in that respect cannot possibly be good for Tulane's reputation in general. Additionally, it appears ludicrous to abolish programs that have a direct impact on the future of New Orleans' resurrection. The decision is no doubt shortsighted. Rather than spending his post-Katrina time finding ways to abolish programs at Tulane, perhaps Mr. Cowan could have spent his time more productively by promoting the fine engineering programs at Tulane. Seriously, what better place at the present to study engineering than in the gulf coast?
Finally, the way the decisions regarding Newcomb and engineering have been handled by the administration is disturbing to say the least. Where are the hard facts and figures to support the necessity of these actions? Why the lack of input before making the decision? The administration's post-Katrina actions (including several of its public statements) have done nothing but lessen the value of the degrees of all who have previously graduated from Tulane and/or Newcomb.
I had previously refrained from posting to this site, so as not to flood the inboxes of the Task Force, but what I read in the New Wave this morning completely disturbed me. The article betrayed the University's true intentions for Tulane and Newcomb Colleges, by stating that the Task Force was hearing "suggestions on how to best use the names and endowments of Newcomb and Tulane colleges." As if the names and endowments were the only necessary pieces of each of the Colleges to worry about preserving! And let's face it, although Tulane College was a recently blossoming entity on campus with a promising future for an all-male community and experience, Newcomb College is the one with the sizable endowment. So the statement should have read "suggestions on how to parcel out the Newcomb ladies' money"!
I am appalled that President Cowen would have the nerve to sideswipe the Board of Administrators with this Renewal Plan at a time of personal, local and national crisis. He took advantage of the fact that the entire country was in such shock post-Katrina that we were fully prepared to grant him carte blanche in a total restructuring of the university that he has admitted on several occasions is only IN PART a financial maneuver. I can understand having to make drastic financial cuts to the institution post-Katrina, but both President Cowen and his staff have acquiesced that much of this Renewal Plan was as much about a “bold new vision” than it was about the bottom line.
I do not restrict the President of a University from formulating and implementing a bold new vision for the University. On the contrary, I agree that Tulane, pre- or post-Katrina, could have used a makeover from an organizational standpoint. But had Katrina not occurred, and had we not granted President Cowen a hasty carte blanche, neither he nor any university President in this country would have dared to dictate such sweeping changes without consultation of the faculty, staff, administration, students and alumni of his University. In fact, President Cowen did not even consult with the Board of Administrators of the University before formulating his plan – he merely presented it to them as an all-or-nothing vote, and made the argument that a Board member had to vote for the whole package in order to save the entire University. Who among us on that day would have voted any differently?
But it’s not that day anymore, it’s several weeks out from that day, and I think that we as the unrepresented remainder of the university need to speak out about the Renewal Plan and the means with which it has been executed.
For instance, the selection of the Task Force membership. The Task Force membership should be half Newcomb grads and half Tulane/LAS grads, not Law School or Business School graduates. Would the Law School want a Newcomb alum who had never stepped inside of the Law School to sit on a committee that will determine the legacy of the Law School? Although they may have excellent intentions, can the non-Newcomb, non-LAS members of the Task Force truly understand the coordinate college experience that has enriched so many of our lives?
In addition, with respect to the Newcomb endowment, President Cowen and his administration refer to it as if it’s already their own to dole out as they please within the new Undergraduate College, leaving Newcomb with a pittance of the remainder to “maintain the Newcomb legacy”. Why has it not occurred to them that every dollar that has been given to Newcomb College, whether or not it was earmarked or restricted, was implicitly given for women’s education only? Likewise, I would assume that any graduate of the relatively new Tulane College that chose to give specifically to that college was implicitly giving to men’s education. If the givers who took the extra steps to give to Newcomb or Tulane Colleges specifically had not intended these implicit restrictions on their gifts, wouldn’t they have just given to the University as a whole (which is a much easier process than singling out a specific College or School)? What legal and ethical right does the University have to pilfer such funds? And does President Cowen really expect Newcomb College to be able to carry on any meaningful or viable “legacy” without a full appropriation of funding? How can Newcomb continue the women’s programming that has created and fostered the entire Newcomb experience without a substantial budget?
I would urge the Task Force to consider the ability of the future Newcomb entity, whatever it may be, to have the financial and organizational wherewithal to implement programming and scholarship in women’s education and leadership in a MEANINGFUL way. If the dollars and the administrative structure aren’t appropriated in any real way, Newcomb will become just a name. But perhaps that's just as President Cowen would like it.
In order to help both the Task Force members and some of the readers of this site gain or renew an understanding of the importance of the Newcomb experience, I have obtained and am posting here a copy of the speech that was delivered at the Newcomb Pinning Ceremony last week (let's hope it wasn't the last). The speaker was Amy Vinturella, N'98 and I think she did an excellent job capturing the essence of Newcomb.
Address at the Newcomb Pinning Ceremony
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
First of all, I would like to congratulate you all on just being here. I know that it was a very tough decision to return and that many people in your life (including your friends, family, and even the national press) have questioned your decision to return to Newcomb and Tulane. Many of those people are probably surprised that you’re here today.
But I have to tell you that I may be one of the only people in the country right now who is not at all surprised that you’re back. Because I think it’s very Newcomb of you to return.
By the sheer fact that you’re here right now, I can already tell that you’re cut from the same cloth as all the Newcomb women who’ve come before you. And for that I applaud you.
Because being a Newcomb woman is not always easy. But it is always a very powerful thing, and it will ensure that you’ve got enough chutzpah to get yourself to the right place at the right time and to do great things when you get there.
The lady that started it all, Josephine Louise Newcomb, had her fair share of chutzpah as well. In 1886 she stood before an all-male, very powerful Tulane Board of Administrators, gave them about $100,000, and told them exactly what she wanted them to do with it.
While it may have been somewhat unusual for a woman at that time to stand in front of a Board of this stature, what was more unusual was her request. She wanted to found the first women’s coordinate college in the history of the United States.
If you remember anything from your American history classes, you’ll know that through the 19th century, the earth-shattering, ground-breaking, revolutionary stuff was pretty much largely in the domain of men. This was not a time of women’s empowerment. In fact, Josephine herself would die in 1901, almost 20 years before women were given the right to vote.
But despite the year and her place in society, she was still a shrewd businesswoman and a loving mother and she turned her husband’s wealth into a fortune and then used that fortune to pay tribute to her only daughter.
And she did it at a time when women did not vote, did not hold office, did not run businesses, did not get college degrees. She had moxie to get up in front of that Board and dream up a women’s coordinate college, and her determination and strength is our collective legacy.
I’m a member of the Board of the Newcomb Alumnae Association and we’ve been meeting recently to hash out what is going to happen to that legacy with the restructuring of the University. We’ve focused our discussions on what programs, buildings, aspects, and philosophies are most critical to making Newcomb “Newcomb”, and through these discussions, we’ve shared personal stories about what Newcomb means to each one of us.
Let me tell you what I’ve learned about the Newcomb legacy from those meetings, because it’s not something that would have ever occurred to me if we had not begun this dialogue.
I’ve learned that what we think of as Newcomb on a day-to-day basis – the buildings, the programs, the wonderful and dedicated staff and administration – is really only about half of the stuff that defines Newcomb.
The other 50% comes from us. It comes from the intangibles and subtleties that make us Newcomb women.
It comes from the determination and hard-headedness that made you defy conventional wisdom and come back to New Orleans and to Newcomb. It’s the same determination that gave Josephine Louise the strength to found Newcomb in the beginning.
It comes from the intelligence and scholarship that got you here in the first place, the same smarts and savvy that will eventually help you run a board meeting or strike a deal with a car salesman or run for office.
Newcomb comes from compassion, a sense of unity and community and sisterhood, that will forever bond you to one another and to me and to all the alumnae who came before you and will come after you.
I know it’s hard to identify with all of these Newcomb intangibles now, especially for the freshmen out there who have yet to go through the full Newcomb experience. And even in my case, when I graduated from Newcomb and Tulane, I’m not sure I truly understood what gifts and talents and strengths we shared, until I started to meet Newcomb alumnae in the years after graduating.
At a recent meeting of the Alumnae Association, I took a little census of the alumnae present. We ranged in age from myself in the Class of 1998 to a lady from the Class of 1942, and every age in between, every decade of Newcomb graduates was represented. Every facet of Newcomb scholarship was represented as well. We were lawyers and accountants and artists and businesswomen and lobbyists and mothers and scientists and educators.
Going into the meeting, I was wary that such a motley crew would ever reach consensus on what Newcomb was and what it should be – since clearly we must have had very disparate experiences at Newcomb from 1942 to 1998. I happy to tell you that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When each woman spoke about her Newcomb experience, whether she had a soft, trembling voice or a brassy, gregarious one, each woman said the exact same thing:
Newcomb was the place where she learned how to be a leader among women and a leader among men and women.
Newcomb was where she gained confidence and determination and fortitude and savvy. It’s where she learned how to be powerful and compassionate. A sister and a mother and a CEO. It’s where she learned how to both bend an ear and twist an arm.
The lady that I spoke of from the Class of 1942 told a story of her graduation day, when an evidently very cute and young English professor took a few of the Newcomb girls out for a drink after the ceremony. One of them had her Newcomb diploma with her, and asked the professor: “So what are we supposed to do with this now?” And he said to them, “You’re going to live with it.”
So that’s my charge to you – live Newcomb every day. Live it while you’re here and then keep living it after you leave.
We will do everything that we can to maintain the tangible stuff that is half of Newcomb – the programs, buildings, etc. But our efforts will be null and void if you and I don’t keep living the other half of Newcomb: the tradition, the legacy, the experience, the chutzpah.
So keep it with you, call on it when you need it, keep in touch with your Newcomb sisters, sing the alma mater, wear your class pin. Whatever you need to do to keep the Newcomb spirit alive, because it has only ever lived inside each of us – it has no building to house it, no dean to guide it, and no budget to fund it.
So you and I are going to make a pact tonight to persevere at keeping that “Newcombness” alive and to pass it on to the next generations, because here’s what I want to see happen:
I am going to show up at a Board meeting of the Newcomb Alumnae Association in the year 2050. And I might be old and wrinkled by that time, but I’m going to be there to share some good stories and to make my voice heard. And y’all are going to be there too. But we won’t be the only ones there, because some younger, unwrinkled girls will be there too, and they will be alumnae from the class of 2042 and 2048.
They, of course, are going to think that we’re really old.
But even though we’ll be old and wrinkled, we’re going to be there, and the younger alumnae are going to be there, and Newcomb is still going to be there. And we old ladies are going to have some seriously good stories to share and a little moxie to pass on to the newbies.
So, I’ll see you in 2050, but until then, keep living Newcomb every day. Her future depends on it and yours does too.
Received Jan. 24:
Tulane is denying the historical importance of Newcomb College as the first degree-granting women’s college founded within a men’s university. The loss or complete absorption of Newcomb is a tragedy inasmuch as it was a pioneering institution for women’s higher education being of equal quality to men’s. I, for one, appreciated the fact that I went to a WOMEN’S college (which was as good as or better than the men’s university with which it was associated). When I was at Newcomb the college was small enough (about 1200 students, I think) for the folks in the Dean’s office to actually know my name. I fear that intimacy will be lost if it hasn’t been already. The merging that has taken place over the last two decades has denied Newcomb students the opportunity to apply for Thomas J. Watson Fellowships, for example, which is just a damn shame.
It is my understanding that Newcomb’s very substantial endowment has been used repeatedly over the years to save Tulane from financial ruin. I fear that is just happening one more time, and this one is forever Tulane just steals it this time in broad daylight.
In the past I have contributed to Newcomb when I could afford it. I don’t think I will contribute to Tulane in the future.
P.s. Is it possible for Newcomb alumnae to engineer (no pun intended) the separation of Newcomb (AND ALL ITS MONEY) from Tulane University, and reconstitute itself as a stand-alone women’s college????!!! When asked where I went to college I say NEWCOMB and only say Tulane if I have to explain.
I am sorry I cannot make it to "The Future of Newcomb College". I understand the need to step back, evaluate the enrollment process at Tulane and Newcomb, and search for new ideas to invigorate the student enrollment at the University at this critical time. I feel strongly that Newcomb College should maintain its identity as an institution providing an education for women within Tulane University.
I do not feel it is passe to promote the achievement of women in education and in business. There are still very few women in high managerial roles at companies nationwide. The lives of women are quite complicated as we have progressed from full time mothers in the 60's, career seekers in the 70's and 80's and now balancing career and family in the 90's and the new decade we are currently in. The future is perplexing on where this will all lead. Newcomb has the opportunity to take a leadership position in helping women navigate and choose their own futures for success in careers and family in the coming decades.
If Newcomb is to be absorbed into the Tulane world, then I would like to see course offerings in the curriculum listed as "Newcomb offerings". These courses would have a special emphasis on meeting the needs of women to compete in today's world or have a special "female" interest to the course curriculum.
I would be disappointed to see Newcomb go the way of other famous institutions specializing in the education of women and become absorbed into another school name. I have always stated that I am a graduate of "Newcomb College" part of Tulane University because at the time I attended, Newcomb was considered a "tougher" school with higher standards than Tulane.
Please work to keep the Newcomb name alive and thriving and find a way to "recreate" Newcomb College as part of Tulane while meeting the needs of the University as a whole during this crisis time.
I see this as an opportunity to think out of the box and hope both institutions are better and stronger in the long run. Please feel free to pass this along to other appropriate members of this task force.
Thank you for your commitment to Tulane and Newcomb and rebuilding the school for the past and future students. It is a fantastic school and I relish my memories and education I gained there.
Received Jan. 23:
How many alums do you think can attend at a
time when most are working?
I read with dismay the letter of December 13,
2005, where it states you are eliminating Newcomb.
Some thoughts for the task force:
When visiting the site today to see if my earlier submission had made it online (it has, and thank you), I was interested to see the question of "Why are Newcomb and Tulane Colleges being reorganized into a single Undergraduate College?" addressed on the renewal.tulane.edu website.
"The strategic goal of the reorganization of all the undergraduate colleges is to provide a consistent, high quality student-centric experience."
And I comment::
Thus implying that what is currently and in the past has been provided by the coordinate college system is somehow lacking? Look at the GPAs, number of students going on to graduate and post-graduate studies, and number of fellowships and awards earned by past and current students, if proof of the effectiveness of current quality, consistency, and student-centricity is needed.
I note also that this goal does not speak in any way to the unique gender-related educational and community needs of male and female students, nor does it address reasons for abandoning the mission of Newcomb College to which many alums over many years have donated legally restricted funds.
The web site further states:
"In order to do this, the university's Renewal Plan calls for centralizing, coordinating, and consolidating the many programs and functions (such as advising, programs, alumni relations) that currently are separately housed in the two liberal arts colleges (Newcomb and Tulane Colleges) and the undergraduate programs of architecture, business, engineering, public health and tropical medicine, and University College."
And I reply:
Again, I agree that it is admirable to aim for improved undergraduate education, but you do nothing to describe how centralization of these services will improve the quality, consistency, or student-centric nature of education at Tulane. In fact, although centralization is generally a more productive/efficient method of administration for any system or process, it also generally results in generic, quite literally homogenized products. It requires that processes and subsystems remain relatively unspecialized, and that change and innovation within the system are minimized. So, in the general case, centralization is more likely to have an effect quite the opposite of improved quality, as demonstrated both within higher education and the business world.
Centralization might add to the consistency of education, but there is a false implication that consistency is desirable in and of itself. Consistency has value only insofar as the object and quality of that consistency is valuable. Consistency of academic achievement, for example, is of clear value. But consistency of policy, process, and program when applied to radically different objects may have entirely undesirable effects on academic achievement, specifically when the objects to which this consistency is applied are not of the same category, for example, male and female students under the age of 21or perhaps engineering and philosophy students. Reading this goal, one can easily imagine a world Tulane University in which very little is better other than a budgetary bottom line, and in which consistency does not lead to improved circumstances, but instead to a situation in which no one's needs are adequately met.
Centralization also adds a layer of bureaucracy
between students and the schools and faculties
which deliver their education, conferring the
opposite of the intended effect on student-centricity
Finally, you state:
And I reply:
I will concede that using a generic term of reference and modeling campus and the university after the large state schools available for many thousands of tuition dollars less per year will be more "understandable" to potential students, but I cannot see how that is a good thing for a private university with selective admissions policies.
It might well be easier to market than the nation's oldest and the South's most prestigious coordinate college system, but my understanding is that neither Newcomb nor Tulane is having any difficulty achieving significant applicant pools under the coordinate college structure, with as many as 10-15 applicants for each available undergraduate space per class.
On that basis, a less challenging product to market does not appear to be a real requirement, and frankly, does not justify dumbing down the campus experience, abandoning legal restrictions on the use of funds, or killing off 120 years of dedication to the specific educational needs of women undergraduates.
I am more disgusted having read the answer to this question in the FAQ than I was when I first heard that Newcomb and Tulane Colleges were to be eliminated. Congratulations -- I didn't think that was possible.
As a former Newcomb Class President, I was tasked
with doing a significant amount of Newcomb history
research my freshman year. One of the anecdotes
I came across was that Newcomb's endowment was
used to create the School of Social Work. However,
the stipulations of Josephine Louise's gift were
violated by this. In order to rectify the situation,
the University then had to maintain a significant
amount of the college's autonomy, as well as
fund several initiatives for women through the
Student Programs. My question is whether the
abolition of Newcomb College is legal. I realize
this is not substantiated, but may be rumor.
However, has anyone checked this out?
As repulsed as I am that the executive powers are actually going to capitalize on Katrina to finally abscond the Newcomb endowment, the sad fact is it's been an overtly oppressive agenda since I was a freshman in 1987. My first semester coincided with Newcomb's centennial and alumnae of all are ages were already enraged and at battle then. I had the distinct feeling in those first weeks of my College career of having been drafted, even before I clearly understood what was being invaded and exploited. What a blessing it was to be greeted by all those wonderful, blue haired, elderly women, teaching me the value of the women who would walk through the next four years with me, then the next 10, and 15, and no doubt 50.
I grieve for all talented young women who will not have the great privilege to have such blessings passed on to them. I grieve for the the Newcomb Alumnae who will not know the honor of passing such values on. Wow, and as a resident of New Orleans, just when I thought there was nothing left to grieve.
This e-mail was forwarded to me by a mutual friend. It is from a fellow Newcomb alum who has lived in New Orleans since graduating over thirty years ago and who lost her house in the flooding. She was responding to our request for a place to stay if we came in from out of town for the Task Force meeting on January 27. Note her comments regarding Dr. Cowen:
"We're in new place - but each of us is also in our own "little hell" right now. For me, 15 staff members didn't come back to work after Katrina and the remaining folks are doing their work (hiring freeze). Bruce is teaching extra classes and Ben's having to take several compressed classes to catch-up after his semester in a regular public school - in addition to his normal schedule. And all this in a dysfunctional city. We're all stressed. Plus, we don't have the infrastructure for guests right now, so I can't offer you all a place to stay. I'm so sorry.
I haven't had time to focus on the Newcomb issue - although I don't like it either. The engineers are making a bigger fuss about their proposed loss - or, at least, it seems so in the Times-Picayune. This is same approach Cowen used with athletics/football: announced the elimination and then restored it only after he got a number of large financial commitments from alums."
Is that what this is all about? Blackmailing
the alums? Don't you think we would have done
everything in our power to help our Alma Mater
in this hour of need without having to antagonize
us? You could have at least asked.
Received Jan. 22:
With regard to preservation of tradition at Newcomb-Tulane, I was disturbed to hear from one of my New Orleans classmates of President Scott Cowen's decision to delete the long standing and very well respected schools of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering schools and of the elimination of many other tenured faculty positions.
Recent plans to make the high school from which I graduated, Fortier, a part of the charter school system, even changing its name, will mean that my high School (Fortier), along with my friend's my college (Tulane Mechanical Engineering) will have all been eliminated. So it becomes difficult to have a sense of tradition or go back to one's roots.
At this critical time, I urge the academic leadership at Newcomb-Tulane to fight to preserve the integrity of the traditions of academic excellence at Newcomb-Tulane and also to play an active role to revitalize the cultural/educational institutions of Greater New Orleans.
Received Jan. 21:
When discussing the proposal to dismantle Newcomb College with male friends, the question presented to me more often than not is “What is the distinction between Tulane and Newcomb?” Here is my answer. Newcomb is for women, their development, their leadership, and their contributions. Newcomb College, through its faculty, programs, students, and alumnae, prepares and promotes young women to be successful leaders and mentors for their communities and each other.
From a time when the idea of a woman going to college was novel to today when there is a higher percentage of women enrolling in college than men, Newcomb College has been providing women with educational opportunities which continue their social and financial advancement.
As Newcomb College students or recent alumnae will attest, women and men do not have to attend separate classes for Newcomb College to be distinguishable from Paul Tulane College. Newcomb College is distinct because of the unique leadership and educational programs developed and organized by women for women. Newcomb College is distinct because of the level of attention its advisors, deans, and staff give to its students. Newcomb College is distinct because of its rich history and tradition as being one of the first women’s colleges in the nation. Newcomb College is distinct because of the sisterhood it has created among women nationwide.
Newcomb College cannot remain in name only. Making Newcomb students, past and present, abandon the idea that one day our daughters and granddaughters may join our ranks as proud Newcomb alumnae without an unequivocal promise that all of its programs and all of its traditions will be preserved, and all of its substantial endowment will be used for nothing less than the continued preparation and promotion of young women as successful leaders and mentors is untenable.
Thank you for keeping me posted on Tulane activities.
Traditions are important for Tulane and Newcomb, but I think the biggest and most important challenges facing Tulane/Newcomb are probably (1) providing the same quality educational experience after Katrina and (2) providing the world with an accurate, reassuring, and optimistic message about what is now available at Tulane/Newcomb.
This is good that you are doing this, but I hope it is not just window dressing for a terrible idea that is going to be implemented anyway. I am APPALLED that the University is even considering doing away with Newcomb. Since when do we pry out our jewels in the crown and hock them for nothing??? Tulane can be absolutely sure that I will not be contributing a dime to anything called the Undergraduate College or some such absurd, impersonal name. In fact, I held back on contributing anything to Tulane at the end of 2005 since I learned of the precarious future of Newcomb. Newcomb is a self-sustaining unit of Tulane, due in part to the Josephine Louise Newcomb gift, and this past fall, before Katrina, Newcomb had a freshman class that was overly large, and there were real questions of where the school was going to put everybody. Sounds like a successful school, serivng a real purpose, does it not? I am unimpressed with any of the stated "reasons" why Newcomb needs to be eliminated or so homogenized into Tulane that it will cease to exist. I have been a generous contributor in the past, a Newcomb sommencement speaker twice, and I have also pledged to give $500 a year for five years to the Jean Danielson scholarship, but all bets are off if Newcomb is going to be killed off. This is a financial reality to be considered if this harmful idea is put into place, and I suspect that many other Newcomb grads who are contributors to Tulane or have included it in their estates feel the same way.
Received Jan. 20:
I learned of the renewal plan very quickly in December because of involvement with family and friends in New Orleans, and my immediate reaction was a towering fury. Sadness followed closely on the heels of that fury, and I certainly recognized the signs of grieving (having done far too much of that in the foregoing months of 2005 due to the aftermath of Katrina). I have held off response to you as I gather information, trying to find a good reason for the split of sciences from liberal arts and the merger of Tulane College and Newcomb College.
But I am grieving for something that is not yet dead. Perhaps I am still in denial, but I implore the task force: do not let Newcomb go to the same watery grave Katrina has given to so much and so many in our city.
It seems mathematically impossible that Newcomb's elimination could account for much financial savings: a dean, a student programming office, and operating costs relative to those offices are all that appear to be missing from the new structure of the university. An amateur tally of those cost cuts is somewhere in the neighborhood of a million dollars, or less than $1000 per student of Newcomb College. This is a drop in the bucket of the recent estimates of $55 million in savings being achieved by the renewal plan, and easily recouped through a normal tuition increase or an alumnae fundraising campaign.
In the absence of figures proving otherwise, I will continue to believe that the merger of Newcomb with Tulane College has more to do with a long-standing desire on the part of the administration to eliminate special institutions for women than with financial savings made necessary by Katrina.
As you know, there is significant funding dedicated to Newcomb: an endowment that 120 years ago was more than $3 million, and that stood at nearly $2 million after the construction of Newcomb's uptown campus. This must certainly be a very large sum of money in 2006, even without taking into account the monies funded to the Newcomb Foundation in 1987 and those returned to Newcomb College in 1996 under the leadership of Jeanne Watson and members of this very task force.
Will men now gain benefit of monies long dedicated to women's education? Will woman-centric community, leadership and education at Tulane University now be relegated to Women's Studies rather than span the depth and breadth of liberal arts and sciences? Is this how the administration finally gets its hands on those funds: by dissolving the institution to which they are dedicated? And if it's not, and the Task Force has access to direct those funds, I strongly, strongly urge that the Task Force find a way to save Newcomb College intact with those millions.
In addition to these financial issues, I have great concerns with separating the Liberal Arts from the Sciences. One of the greatest benefits of being at Newcomb outside of a stellar advising program and community of women was the integration of science and math majors with philosophy and classics majors. I'm sure such a separation exists somewhere else in higher education, but I am at this time unaware of any top-tier undergraduate program which does not address both liberal arts and sciences together in undergraduate education.
As requested in the letter my husband received (A&S '91) but I did not, I respectfully submit my suggestion to the task force: Do something innovative in the face of all of the tragedy and damage that are the unavoidable fallout of Katrina's devastation of New Orleans: Keep Newcomb and Tulane Colleges as they stand.
If necessary, merge the Engineering and Science majors into those curriculums and faculties to achieve the desired symmetry and cost savings inside the university. I also urge the task force to read some of the alternate proposals written by supporters of Douglass College, the women's college of Rutgers which is currently faced with oblivion similar to Newcomb. They are wide-ranging, and address many of the issues relevant to the renewal plan's faults.
Finally, let me be blunt: Without a women's college to donate to, Tulane has seen its last donation from the 3-generation A&S/Newcomb Jacobs family. Josephine Louise Newcomb donated her life's savings for the practical and liberal education of women in New Orleans. I support, endorse, and have given to that purpose since becoming financially able to do so, but let it be clear that Josephine Louise's mission is what I have been supporting. I trust that you, as the appointed arm of the Board of Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund, will take what action is necessary to preserve the institution which has given 120 years to performing that task with grace, consistency, and excellence.
In closing, let me note that there are many aspects of the renewal plan that I wholeheartedly endorse, particularly the community service component and expansion of interdisciplinary studies. And there are aspects which I despise, but understand the reasoning behind, particularly the wholesale cutting of clinical programs for which there is currently no need in New Orleans. But I cannot and will not be a part of shutting down Newcomb College without a good reason, and good reasons have yet to be presented to me.
I hope that the Task Force will consider the following:
1) Slow down your timeline -- take a closer look at how similar reinventions have been drawn out at other universities (Rutgers is a wonderful example), and take the time to talk with your constituencies across the nation. 3 out of 4 Newcomb graduates I have made contact with over the last several weeks have not even received notification that she's about to be dissolved. Certainly there's been little mention of Newcomb's dissolution in the most recent round of national press related to the return of students to campus.
2) Look closely at the budget savings required, and find ways to achieve those savings without destroying such an integral and valuable part of the university.
3) Consider what the elimination of Newcomb College means for those of us who have graduated from her and provided support to her in the past: I feel the value of my degree plummeting with every step towards dissolution.
4) Consider the value of having something unique to offer to prospective students, rather than a pre-digested, homogenized undergraduate experience that could be obtained for less money at other, equally prestigious, institutions.
and most important:
5) Ask alumnae what kind of support they'd be willing to provide to the university to retain Newcomb College as she stands. I am more than willing to add dollars to the task, and I suspect that my fellow alumnae are more than ready to step up to need at this time, but no one has asked.
I thank you all for taking on the onerous task of determining Newcomb's fate in the post-Katrina world, and stand ready to provide you with any research or other details you might need in considering your decisions and recommendations.
Received Jan. 19:
As an alumna of Newcomb College, I feel it is important to let your committee know that I am deeply saddened by the plan to disintegrate Newcomb and Tulane Colleges. During this time of rebuilding, this issue may not be at the forefront of the University's concerns, but I did not want to sit by and pretend that it does not strike a chord with me.
This is not the first time that the rich history of Newcomb has been threatened. In the past, alumnae and students have succeeded in sustaining Newcomb's individuality by uniting and voicing our belief that the College plays a vital role in the University. I truly hope that the Board will consider these past attempts and the reasons that alumnae have given for preserving Newcomb College.
For me, the history of Tulane University is as important as its future. I love being associated with Newcomb College, its history and its traditions. I know there are others like me, because I have already received numerous emails from fellow alumnae expressing their sadness at this decision. However, we are all torn by trying to understand and support the Tulane University Board as it works hard to make the best decisions for the University at this important and difficult time.
To consolidate enrollment under one body, sadly named Undergraduate College, may ease the tasks of the administration, but it erases the identities of our Colleges. Every University in this country has an undergraduate college. Perhaps your committee can appeal to alumnae and students to come up with a name that better captures the essence of Tulane and its historic campus.
I apologize for not giving my full support of your renewal plan. I do want Tulane to recover and succeed, but I do not believe we need to sacrifice its history to accomplish short-term or long-range goals. If given the opportunity, we can arrive at a resolution that best serves the current student body, the administration and the proud alumnae.
Thank you for the continuous communication you have provided throughout the past few months. And thank you for the opportunity to present my thoughts. I know there are several pressing issues that your committee is facing and I look forward to showing my full support as Tulane recovers and progresses.
The Newcomb student government should stay in place for the second semester 2006. These students would be the group from which new traditions could emerge.
Suggestions for maintaining the spirit of strength with gentleness that is Newcomb College:
The Order of H. Sophie Newcomb – an honorary organization of women of Tulane College.
This organization would be a hybrid formed out of the Newcomb student government. Eligibility for membership would be determined by a minimum grade point average of 3.0, record of leadership within Tulane College, and exhibition of the ideals of H. Sophie Newcomb College tradition. Members would all be women. Members would be advised by five former Newcomb faculty members and five members of the Newcomb Alumnae Assn. The alumnae advisers would come from the five preceding decades of Newcomb’s history: 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. (Decades would advance in future decades.) The present student government association would need to determine the method of selection of members.
The Order of Newcomb would pursue activities that would acquaint women students of Tulane College with Newcomb traditions of academic excellence, honor, and womanly strength with gentleness. The group would take the leadership in activities on the campus that relate specifically to women. The group should in no way demonstrate sexual bias such as would favor a heterosexual, bi-sexual or lesbian bent through its programming. The group would work closely with the Newcomb Center for Research on Women to bring a sense of history to women on campus, always with an eye for explaining to them where we have come from. The group would be represented on the board of Tulane College student government. This could give women on the Tulane campus a base of strength.
Activities of this group should take place within Newcomb buildings, especially Newcomb Hall, the Art School, Dixon Hall, Josephine Louise House, and the Performing Arts Center, as well as the Newcomb Chapel. The Newcomb Quad could be utilized. Meetings of the group should take place on the Newcomb campus.
A particular thrust of this group should be as watch guards of the buildings that constitute the Newcomb campus. The group would act as historic preservation activists to protect the integrity of these buildings, working to have the buildings included on the National Register of Historic Places.
I am a 1958 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences at
Tulane and have spent my entire professional life in higher education, with administrative and teaching posts at Harvard, as the provost at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and for twelve years as president of the University of the South at Sewanee;
I thus have some perspective on the challenges of higher education.
In addition, I have extensive Tulane-Newcomb connections: my wife N'1961; her mother and my mother-in-law N' 1926; my mother N'1927; my father C'1929, E'1929, and a brother E'1959. In addition, a great uncle taught chemical engineering at Tulane for more than thirty years and often headed the department. Thus I also have a Tulane/Newcomb perspective. From both dimensions I want to address your letter and the on-going discussions about the future of Tulane University.
First, I was dismayed to have your letter and see a committee that will discuss the future of Tulane College and Newcomb without a single Tulane College graduate on the committee. That does not lend much credibility to the effort.
Second, the discussion of the Undergraduate College seems curiously vague. Is the name of the College up for grabs, up for sale, up for what? And where do the graduate programs of departments like history fit? And who will determine this new core curriculum: which faculty, what deans, with what resources? And how will the endowment be divided if "every tub on its own bottom" is to be the standard for the future?
Preserving the "traditions" of Tulane and Newcomb sounds like a lot of advertising to cover a lot of vagueness; I have been in higher education long enough to know bull when I see it. And this sounds like bull. What is really going to happen? Will this be the current engineering morass all over again, with superb programs abandoned because they are small or under funded? No cost-basis analysis would ever support the instruction of most foreign languages and even some esoteric science subjects, yet these are crucial to a well-rounded, credible arts and sciences program.
And then there is the problem of communications. Why no newsprint sheet to alumni with graphic details of what exactly has been the damage to the various campus areas? How do the damages vary from place to place? And what impact on grant funding and like? Why the continual reliance on the Internet, valuable as it is, to address this problem of communication? Your letter is the first piece of paper, other than a tax notice for a renewal contribution, that I have received. There has to be a better way.
I am sure that there are many others, like myself, that owe much to Tulane and that have experience in higher education that might be of help to the institution at this time. But Tulane's track record of few visiting committees and failure to seek advice does not reassure me.
New ideas, new blood, different experiences, a willingness to listen beyond New Orleans and beyond the tried and true alumni who have long shouldered a great burden but who may also be too tied to the past: all of these are factors that deserve consideration as the future of the central part of any university is planned.
I hope it all works but at the moment I would not bet the ranch on it.
Received Jan. 18:
I am sorry but getting rid of Newcomb is just wrong, no matter what reasons.Tulane has a great deal of money from the Newcomb Endowment, is this not true? To strip the name is wrong. So much has been lost because of the storm, to lose H. Sophie Newcomb by the acts of men is to much to bear. Another way has to be available!?!
Received Jan. 17:
Last evening's report on ABC was not only exciting news about the reopening of Tulane, it showcased a splendid president willing to make a courageous statement about realities relative to the future of the city. All this certainly makes me think twice about my e-mail comments yesterday!
I am the husband of a Newcomb graduate and the father of a former student at Newcomb, but with no other personal ties to Tulane, I think my communication should be considered little more than "miscellaneous."
Not knowing in any comprehensive, coherent way just what you are up against in restoring the campus and the university program itself, I can only state a heart-felt sympathy for the challenge before you and others dedicated to the continuation of a great educational institution and tradition.
You wrote a generally very good letter. I would like to say, however, as a former chief executive officer of a non-profit institution for sixteen years, that from time to time I, too, used phrases very similar to "...exciting new opportunities and a redesigned organizational structure." The old-timers in my institution recognized my occasional prose for what it was: a thinly-veiled euphumism for painful change.
Looking back, my grand schemes were tempered (and limited) by the restraints inherent in tradition and the legitimate, if sometimes irritating, stakes held by colleagues, who knew how to deal with my attempts at end runs. Checks and balances tended to even things out: change happened and oxes were gored, but in spite of---or because of---all of us, the essential character of the place remained.
My modest plea would be that you be as timely, concrete and straight-forward with your publics and constituences as you possibly can be under what we all know is the weight of as yet indescribable losses. It appears that it is a bad time, generally, for trust almost everywhere in the world, but it can be built with open-minded, open-hearted people whom you know are straight-shooters.
Received Jan. 16:
Thank you for seeking input.
I understand why many are upset about the proposed merger of Newcomb and Tulane colleges....but I believe that the revamped organizational structure can allow for a continued identity for the brand of Newcomb, and a continued role for programs specifically for young women.
As background, I am Newcomb class of ‘96, with a strong Newcomb identity as well as a strong Tulane identity: I was Chair of Newcomb Orientation and Big Sisters and was active in Newcomb Senate, before serving as an Executive with the Associated Student Body, and while serving as an Executive with several media and service student organizations.
I would like to note how valuable I found the Newcomb leadership programs to my personal development.
I think it is critically important to continue to dedicate resources to programming for female students. Speakers and networking opportunities are critical, as they provide students with role models of women serving as leaders (in business, the professions, government, etc); these Brown Bag Lunches and receptions, and efforts like Women in Science and Women in Public Policy, were extremely well received when I was a student, and went hand in hand with Newcomb Program leadership retreats and sessions focusing on student leadership and personal development. It was extremely beneficial to my development that I was made aware of and given strategies for working through the challenges that exist specifically for women as they serve as leaders, which are both external (expectations of others) and internal (ingrained gender roles).
As a University, Tulane has finally realized the importance of traditions, in enhancing the student experience and sense of connection to the school: as we seek to add new traditions and rediscover old ones, it would be quite sad (and foolish) to lose those affiliated with Newcomb, like Daisy Chain, Newcomb Assets, Morter Board, etc.
I hope that some kind of a “Big Sister” program pairing up new female students with older ones continues. The dynamic I experienced with this orientation program was VERY different from that of the general Tulane orientation, and in my view (in addition to being another great historical tradition) was quite helpful to students adapting to the school, being away from home, etc.
When I was a student 10 years ago, the majority of student leaders at campus wide organizations like the Hullabaloo, TUCP, CACTUS, Direction, etc, came from Newcomb College Senate and Newcomb Programs; I don¹t know if that has been the case recently, and how much of that can be attributed to single sex student government and programs. However, I think its fair to say that eliminating the separate male and female undergraduate student governments may have a negative impact on the number of women playing a leadership role in student government and elsewhere on campus. However, in my view, a mixed gender environment may also create a more dynamic culture and experience for those involved: certainly one more akin to the “real world”, which as we all know is generally coed. (Yes, I know, this brings up a whole host of questions about single sex education, all very complex. I don’t have any answers to those large questions, just wanted to point out what I observed while at Newcomb/Tulane, and my thoughts.)
Please note that I have great conviction that the strength of these programs depends upon the quality (and quantity) of staff and resources dedicated to these programs. I feel very strong that a major reason Newcomb student leaders developed so well during my time at Tulane, was the strong coaching of Margaret King and a full time (at that time) associate, Rhonda.
Perhaps some of these functions can be managed in conjunction with the Center for Research on Women. (Although, it seems silly now, but I remember that when I was a student, some perceived a division between that center and Newcomb Programs. Newcomb Programs was seen as more “sorority girl friendly” and more socially oriented, where the Center was seen as more “hard core feminist” and more academic; different students felt more connected to and comfortable with those different centers. Of course, some “crossed over” and loved both Beth Willinger and Margaret King!!!)
I realize the Plan for Renewal has been proposed to save costs, and I recognize the importance of doing so at this time. I therefore resign myself to the recommendation to combine the academic administrative staff and resources of Newcomb and Tulane colleges, as faculty are already combined.
However, the university seeks to improve the undergraduate experience: and I truly believe that dedicating the modest resources required to continue the programs mentioned above, would be cost effective with a strong payoff in terms of student experience. I also consider it a moral obligation focus on programming for female students, to uphold the promise made to Josephine Louise Newcomb, when she created Newcomb College as a place to educate young women in honor of her daughter H. Sophie Newcomb. Additionally, it is important for all undergraduates (and graduate students, and faculty, and staff) to be presented with the thorny issues of gender roles....which, like race, continue to have a great impact on society, whether we acknowledge them or not.
Radcliff officially merged with Harvard University in 1999, and is now an “Institute” of the University, with a special focus on women and gender issues, and dedicated resources. (As I understand the situation.) That seems like a worthy model to research and consider. However, I would like to support a suggestion made on this listserve, more akin to the model that Vassar College adopted when it opened its doors to men: I am in favor of using the name Newcomb College for the new, coed School of Liberal Arts. Why not?? I honestly can’t imagine choosing the bland, meaningless “School of Liberal Arts” over “The Sophie Newcomb College of Liberal Arts”, with the wonderful, unique legacy of the name Newcomb!
I would like to note how happy I am to see a focus on enhancing the undergraduate experience in the Plan for Renewal: residential colleges, service learning, TIDES, etc. I think the current administration has done an admirable job beginning to focus on these types of initiatives, and I’m glad to see an indication that these initiatives will receive the resources they need to succeed, even at this difficult time.
Hopefully the focus on the undergraduate experience will also involve further support for student media, such as TV and radio production, which at Tulane are treated only as student organizations, separate and distinct from academic departments such as Communications and university departments such as Athletics, although campus media is critical to a strong campus community, and the opportunity to learn by participating in a properly resourced and managed student media program is critical for many students’ career plans.
Hopefully this focus on the undergraduate experience will also include a major emphasis on career advising and services. In my view this critical area should involve counseling/workshops on interviewing skills, resume writing, career exploration, etc, but it ALSO should include staff who aggressively cultivate relationships with alumni, parents, corporate recruiting departments, etc, to help students get a foot in the door of their desired careers, via access to interviews, etc.
All the best of luck, and please let me know if I can be of any help.
First, I commend the administration's initiative. In my experience as an undergraduate at Tulane in the late 90s, so many of the school's strengths were overshadowed by a serious identity crisis. Despite the school's history and traditions, I suspect that few students, and even fewer people outside of Tulane, had a clear idea of what it stood for and what it meant to be a Tulane student or alumnus. I encourage the administration to decide what kind of undergraduate school it wants and model its program on schools that fit a similar description. I recommend Rice, Northwestern, and Dartmouth as comparable schools that Tulane would do well to follow. A rigorous and unified core program for undergraduates is a necessary step toward a richer undergraduate experience and, as a result, a stronger Tulane identity.
In its efforts to renew Tulane, I hope that the administration does not lose sight of an important, corollary goal: preserving tradition. In this vein, I suggest that Tulane College and Newcomb College continue to confer degrees on liberal arts graduates. One of the most effective ways to preserve the best of Tulane as we have all known it is to focus on those elements that already inspire loyalty to the school. Newcomb College is the first thing that comes to mind. Newcomb graduates feel a strong sense of identity with Newcomb and, accordingly, with Tulane. Newcomb is a prominent example of the things that make Tulane a special place. In its efforts to centralize, the school must not homogenize to the point that it loses the components of its identity that are already strong. Judging from the comments of students and alumni, it appears less important that students enter Tulane or Newcomb than that they graduate from Tulane or Newcomb. Accordingly, if the colleges cannot remain the points of entry for undergraduates, they should remain the points of exit for graduates who receive liberal arts degrees.
To improve the undergraduate experience, strengthen the curriculum, and distinguish itself as a school, I suggest that Tulane institute an interim winter term, in which students take one course for a short period, perhaps three or four weeks. Similar programs at other colleges-Washington and Lee, Dartmouth, and St. Olaf's come immediately to mind-seem to create a unique identity for the school and foster a sense of community among undergraduates. This would also give students a chance to pursue new academic interests without interfering with core or major requirements.
In addition, or as an alternative, I suggest a preliminary term for entering freshmen, either the week before the fall semester begins or during a week in the summer dedicated to freshman orientation. (I believe that Dartmouth has a program like this.) Ideally, this would involve some time in the classroom. This might entail an introductory class on the elements of academic life, such as composition and research (similar to some law schools, including Columbia); special seminars on limited subjects, such as a single book or author or a single topic of global, national, or local political interest (e.g., the Iranian nuclear controversy, the limits of presidential power, environmental policy in Louisiana); and/or cultural activities in New Orleans.
Finally, I encourage the administration to end Tulane's participation in Division I football. This is not an issue of moral hazard-I don't think that Division I football encourages binge drinking any more than Mardi Gras, the Boot, or, for that matter, Division III football. The issue is, rather, one of identity. Tulane must decide, and has apparently decided to decide, what kind of school it wants to be. Futile or not, the pursuit of a Division I football title is out of scale with Tulane; it is out of step with the improvement of the curriculum and a stronger sense of community (which "home" games at the Superdome only seem to diminish); and, perhaps most importantly to the prospects for renewal, grand-scale football demands too many resources for whatever benefits it provides or might provide. Don't get me wrong. I think college football can be a wonderful thing. In Tulane's case, however, a small, financially reasonable, and successful program would be much more wonderful than an enormous, expensive, and disconnected Division I enterprise. Tulane can benefit from Division I athletics in many areas-baseball being the obvious example-but football simply isn't one of them.
Thank you for your efforts to preserve and improve Tulane. Though I am sad for its recent losses, I am proud of the school's determination to rebuild. I wish you the best of luck.
I am a graduate of Tulane University/Newcomb College. I graduated in December 1992. I also worked in the Necomb Dean's Office as a student worker (glorified gopher). I have a profound interest in the future of Newcomb college. While I understand the need to cut costs as much as possible to ensure Tulane's future by eliminating as many unneccessary job positions, I am concerned about the scholarships associated with women's education that were distinctly a part of Newcomb College. How is the university planning to disperse those funds?
At a time when we in the Gulf South have already suffered so much loss and devastation, I am distraught with the loss of Newcomb College. I like so many others lost my home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but I can buy a new couch. I can’t find a new college. My heart is broken.
Growing up in a very small farm town in northern Oklahoma, I had no personal exposure to professional women outside the realm of elementary and secondary education. Without real-life examples, career possibilities seemed abstract and overwhelming. Arriving at Tulane, I felt lost and uncertain of my place. I made plans to transfer to another institution. And then, in the Spring of my freshman year, I attended the Newcomb Leadership Conference. My time at Newcomb changed my perceptions of my future. Everyday I interacted with intelligent, articulate, focused women in a variety of experiences.
For the first time I began to consider the concrete possibilities for my future. The amazing women in the Dean’s office and the Programs Office who cared enough to learn my name, my history, and my dreams, created a home for me within Newcomb. The leadership opportunities for women lead by women grew my confidence with each day. Never would I have succeeded at Tulane without Newcomb, nor will I feel connected and loyal to Tulane if the Task Force closes Newcomb College. Women today are still promoted and paid at lower rates than men, and women are still vastly under-represented in leadership positions in government and the private sector. Newcomb College and all she offers are still necessary! Please do not make the horrible mistake of closing her doors when there is so much to be done in the realm of women’s education and leadership.
I am a 2003 Newcomb graduate. I wanted to point out two Newcomb traditions that I benefited from that I hope will not be forgotten. Newcomb was a member of the Public Leadership Education Network, a consortium of women's colleges that provides opportunities for women to learn about public policy and career opportunities in leadership positions.
As I was considering law school and the next step in my career following college, Newcomb gave me a grant to attend a weekend seminar in Washington DC and it was a wonderful experience that helped shape my outlook on public interest careers. I think PLEN is a great program and I hope that Tulane will continue to be a member of PLEN or some similar group in order to provide opportunities such as the one I received.
As a Newcomb student, I also had the pleasure of participating in all female honor societies, Alpha Lamda Delta and Mortar Board. While Mortar Board is co-ed at the national level, at Newcomb college and other women's colleges it remained a women's honor society. I thought that provided us a special experience.
I am a member of the Newcomb class of 2000. I appreciate the opportunity to express my comments about the changes being implemented for the renewal of Tulane University.
The combination of Newcomb and Tulane makes me feel apprehensive. My main concern is that my degree from Newcomb College will lose all meaning if there is no longer a Newcomb College. Additionally, I believe Newcomb possessed a larger endowment than Tulane and I am concerned this restructuring is a convenient way for the University to raid those funds.
I think it is very important that women admitted to the University receive the same support and opportunities to bond with other women that existed when I attended Tulane. Being able to identify with Newcomb made me feel less overwhelmed by the size of the university. I hope the history of the first institution for higher education for women in the South is preserved.
Received Jan. 15:
I have included a link that details a 2003 press release stating that
Tulane will keep its Division I football team DESPITE a seven million dollar deficit. Why is sports a priority over Newcomb College or a complete Engineering Department? I have read that Tulane wants to strengthen its undergraduate program analogous to that of Washington University in St. Louis, now considered a "hot" school. Washington University is Division III. It manages to attract an upper echelon undergraduate student body as well as being on the cutting edge of many graduate programs. All of that without a big bowl football culture!
Click Here: Check out "Tulane will keep football program in Division 1-A - centralohio.com
You asked for comments in your December 13th letter. Clearly the task ahead is a major one. My suggestion may seem trivial, but I think it would strenghten the overall effort.
I obtained my first degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where there were several songs taught to all incoming students. There was the Hymn, used at major ceremonies, the Red and Blue university loyalty song and a clever and amusing fight song. Most schools have similar songs.
We sang these many times during my undergraduate years, but more importantly, at alumni events, graduates from all years and all schools knew the same songs and we happily belted them out.
When I came to Tulane, I was disappointed not to find a similar tradition. Now is the time, in the face of all the rebuilding and rekindled spirits to have a contest, open to alumni, faculty, students, employees, to write a couple of really great rally songs and to make them a part of the new Tulane tradition.
Best wishes for the recovery.
Received Jan. 14:
I am very sorry to write that I have sent my last donation to Newcomb. While I have not been able to contribute as much as the Engineering School graduate who founded Yahoo, I have faithfully sent a check each year. I graduated from a high school which had separate administration and faculty for the girls' and boys' schools, and I specifically chose Newcomb College because of its special history and relationship to Tulane. I think you are making a grave mistake by eliminating Newcomb College (and the Engineering School for that matter).
Good Luck without me.
Received Jan. 13:
Having read the letters to the Task Force since Jan. 1, 2006, I urge the Task Force to note that more than 90% of the letters are opposed to the restructuring of Tulane ... and especially to the elimination of Newcomb College. It must be difficult for business oriented members of the BOA to understand what the "Newcomb experience" means to Newcomb students and alumnae, but perhaps the detailed accounts from some of the more recent alumnae will impress upon you the importance of Newcomb College within the greater umbrella of Tulane University. As a graduate of Newcomb, I have always been proud to state that I attended Newcomb College of Tulane University. When my daughter was applying to universities in the late 1970s, I recall the head master of her private school in Florida volunteering his opinion that Tulane and Newcomb were two distinctly different academic schools...Newcomb far outshone Tulane!
Although I understand the outstanding effort of President Cowan and the Board in attempting to save Tulane, to dismiss a College with this type of reputation without giving financial facts to the alumni and supporters of the University, is beyond my comprehension. Although I am not a donor of large contributions, since my graduation I have been a consistent supporter with intentions of increasing my contributions in later years. However, without a Newcomb College, Tulane will not be an attractive repository.
I think that a Tulane without a Newcomb will be detrimental to Tulane University. At the very least, you should give considerable thought to providing ways and means to ensure continuation and expansion of women's programs, Newcomb traditions and the Newcomb Alumnae Association. The Newcomb name needs to be more that a plaque on a building.
Thank you for the opportunity to offer input on the upcoming restructuring of Tulane University.
Newcomb College as a value proposition for students:
I am a Newcomb class of 1993 alumni. My sister is a class of 2002 Newcomb alumni in no small part because I sold her on Newcomb and Tulane. Like many others who have emailed you I didn’t really give much of a thought to Newcomb when I entered Tulane University. Back then I was just happy to have gotten into a “good” school. After having the Tulane/Newcomb experience and being close to the University since my graduation over ten years ago through hiring Tulane students for internships I am convinced that the Newcomb experience is truly unique and valuable for young women.
Newcomb is a marketing opportunity for the University in the form of a value proposition. Prospective women students have a wonderful nurturing environment all their own. If they want to get involved in Newcomb they have all these wonderful opportunities. In my opinion it is only a marketing positive for the University. Newcomb does not force you to do anything. Each woman can have as much or as little involvement as she wishes. If she is not into it, no big deal emphasize all the other great things about the University. If she is into it…well we have a unique experience here at Newcomb and a wealth of experiences not to be had anywhere else.
Newcomb is so unique and does not detract from the University, it only adds to the population of people that might consider Tulane an option for their higher education. Due to this uniqueness, I would not be surprised if enrollment or applications dropped due to this proposed change. This would not help with the University’s recovery.
Newcomb as a differentiation from University College:
As I mentioned, my sister is a Newcomb graduate of the class of 2002. She tells me that she always tells people that she is a Newcomb graduate because it differentiates her from graduates of Tulane University College. According to TV ads Tulane University College has only one requirement for admission: a high school diploma. By pointing out that she is a Newcomb graduate, she emphasizes the fact that she graduated from the very competitive liberal arts college for women at Tulane.
In other words, our Tulane degrees are already lessened in value by “Tulane University College” being out there. I feel strongly that if the new “Undergraduate College” name does not sound that much different. “Tulane College” or anything with the name Tulane in it would be too close to “Tulane University College”. The Newcomb name is completely different and could not in any way be confused with “Tulane University College”.
Newcomb College should be maintained in its entirety, but in a minimum the Newcomb College name must be maintained. I believe that eliminating Newcomb significantly reduces the value of my degree and actually has the opposite effect that the board intends by creating a Generic Undergraduate experience at Tulane. I could have gotten a Generic Undergraduate experience at LSU or UNO for about $80,000 less. So without the uniqueness…why go to Tulane?
Newcomb endowment and mission:
In my opinion the trustees of the University cannot arbitrarily say there will be no more Newcomb College. Mrs. Newcomb left her money specifically to support women’s education. Because she left her funds to women’s education, arbitrarily saying that the University is in trouble and there will be no more women’s education is wrong.
Just because lots of time has passed since her gift and women have made many strides in the world does not mean that her wishes can be negated arbitrarily. If we alumni cannot give gifts to Tulane secure in the knowledge that our wishes will be carried out no matter what those wishes are or how much time passes, why give at all. Why not support another cause that is sure to adhere to the donor’s wishes. I am sure there are plenty of willing recipients out there that do good works in all of our communities.
I encourage all members of the committee to think long and hard about what Tulane and Newcomb are about. We should not cut off our nose despite our face. Beware the law of unintended consequences. The very effort to save the University may be the very thing that puts the last few nails in its coffin. Generic Undergraduate education can be had anywhere in this country, the uniqueness of this institution is part of what makes it great and Newcomb College is a large part of that uniqueness.
Please save all that is Newcomb. We women have so little in this world that is truly ours and that truly supports us and lifts us up. Newcomb is a rare institution that lifts us up and makes us better human beings, better citizens and better women. That is a truly remarkable thing. Once that legacy is destroyed, it cannot be easily repaired or duplicated again.
Received Jan. 12:
I am a Newcomb graduate 1988. When I was first admitted to Tulane University (Newcomb) - I did not really give much thought to "Newcomb".
I was going to Tulane. When I graduated, I had quite a different feeling. I feel that a Newcomb college education provides an invaluable contribution to women's self-esteem and personal growth. I am proud to say that I am a graduate of Newcomb college. Newcomb college helped me reclaim my identity as a woman. I want to share something with you that is quite personal. I was sexually abused when I was a teenager. Were it not for its women's studies program, women's research center, and the courses taught in Sociology Dept by women (i.e. sociology of the sex roles)". I don't know if I would be who I am today. These courses and services empowered me and challenged me to reclaim my life and my identity.
Newcomb has an identity as a women's college. It is in integral part of Tulane University and its history. It is a college founded and dedicated to the education of women. Destroy Newcomb college and you destroy a niche of what makes Tulane University so special. Can we say the same thing about Division I athletics? Did this make Tulane special? Maybe basketball.. I went to Newcomb college during the time of the "point shaving" scandal in basketball. That is the only time I ever remember Tulane University being recognized for its Athletics department. Take Newcomb away and you take apart part of what makes Tulane so special.
I admire and respect Scott Cowen for his efforts and determination to salvage an incredibly wonderful school. I must caution him though that taking Newcomb away will be like dismembering a part of a great institution.
Received Jan. 11:
My opinion is LEAVE NEWCOMB ALONE. I doubt if it makes any difference. They have already made a mess of it, and have taken our endowment.
The Newcomb name needs to be preserved not only at the campus and within certain departments, but as a part of the degree conferred and the University as a whole.
I suggest that now after everyone has had more time to study all things to be considered the Task Force ask the Board Of Administrators to reverse their vote and ask for more time to allow input before the fact rather than after the fact of such a monumental undertaking as the reconstruction of an entire University. Consider the BOA's first vote as a practice run, and learn from the mistakes that you have made..
First let me say that I have mixed feelings about combining the Tulane and Newcomb Colleges. They had unique histories and distinct roles for students. I believe that both schools added value to the undergraduate experience.
When I was a student in the newly created Tulane College (1993-1997) it was the birth of an identity. This new identity was created largely in part by the exhaustive efforts of Dean Anthony Cummings.
Before Tulane College the school of Arts & Sciences was ambiguous and generic organization of undergraduate (male) students NOT in Newcomb College. Relative to Newcomb, the Arts & Sciences College was a bare bones operation.
What Dean Cummings added was a strong "branded" name in Tulane College. He linked our heritage with the original mission of the university. He helped foster Tulane College student organizations and create a leadership caucus of male leaders in the undergraduate system. Dean Cummings secured donor funds to create a physical home for this new College - Cudd Hall. The College Senate was the embodiment of the College. The senate spoke for its students, designed a new college shield, and created programs for students. As an alumni member of the Deans Advisory Council it was a honor to watch this new organization grow and see new students embrace Tulane College. One of the long range goals of the college was to build strong bonds with its current students and renew bonds with distinguished alumni. This long term effort would have provided fruits in the future for the College. Tulane College and Newcomb added great value to the undergraduate experience.
However Tulane College never had the endowment, history, or large support staff of Newcomb. There was a large inequality but the new
Tulane College building and its programs provided a source of shining pride for its male undergraduates.
While I have never heard the justification for a new college, this is what I feel needs preserved:
* Retain the name and shield
of Tulane College for this new organization. The
'Tulane' name one of the most valuable assets
that the university has. *
Have a Dean for male students and a Dean for
It is my belief that the Tulane undergraduate will continue to be an outstanding experience. An excellent facility, small classes, unique social environment and world class students will continue at Tulane.
Received Jan. 10:
I am a Newcomb graduate and my daughter is a senior at Newcomb. Sadly, it sounds as if she will be the last class to graduate from Newcomb. Like most Newcomb alums, I hate to see the college disappear. Couldn't some way be found to keep the college intact, even if in name only? My son went to Rice University. At the time of his admission, like all freshmen, he was randomly assigned to one of 8 or 10 colleges that also bore the name of his dormitory. (He was assigned to Will Rice College and resided in Will Rice dormitory for all 4 years except one when he was forced to live in an apartment due to an overall housing shortage.) The university has no fraternities or sororities; your college fills that role. It was a wonderful experience for him. Could a plan such as described above work for Newcomb? It would certainly be worthwhile looking into.
My daughter has been accepted to Tulane as a Fall '06 incoming freshman. As she makes her decision, we have been following closely, the progress of the University since the Tulane emergency web site was established just days after the hurricane.
I felt compelled to e-mail you with words of praise and encouragement.
We have been incredibly impressed with the way Tulane has handled the Katrina disaster, and the ongoing reorganization. The leadership and communication demonstrated by Scott Cowen has been nothing short of remarkable. Under lesser leadership, the university could have been a sad footnote to this hurricane story.
There have been many negative e-mails posted on your web site from disgruntled students and alumnae, admonishing the difficult decisions you've had to make. It seems undeniable that under such extraordinary circumstances, change is an absolute. And shouldn't all of us want to send our children to an institution of higher learning that is facile enough and open-minded enough to adapt under dire circumstances; with the goal of becoming even better than ever? I'm just hard-pressed to feel anything but admiration for what you're doing.
Therefore, I just wanted you to know that there are those of us out here who have been watching, and marveling, at your progress under incredible duress.
Just one plea: We're in the midwest, and unfortunately, I can tell you that the prevailing mindset around here is that Tulane is "washed away", "unsafe", and "I wouldn't send my child down there." Please consider additional PR efforts around the country so that everyone can know, just as those of us who are informed know, about Tulane's strength and future.
Thank you for so much inspiration. Onward and upward!
While I cheer your efforts to resurrect Tulane in the midst of a catastrophic circumstance, would it be too much to point out that maintaining the wildly expensive fantasy of Division I athletics at the same time just makes no sense?
I am a graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences (1982) and a faculty member at the University of Iowa. I have completed graduate degrees at the universities of Florida and Wisconsin. I have taught at the university of Texas at Austin. These mega-universities can support the multi-million dollar expense of football-as-theater for the "college experience,' but only barely. Since I was a kid in New Orleans, someone at Tulane has been sure that we could be the next USC or Notre Dame. But 40 years later, we're at the bottom of Conference USA. Not that winning matters.
Besides, the culture of big sports on campus has much more to do with dominant practice of binge drinking on campus than with the classroom.
Baseball and basketball are fun at Tulane, but if you'll check the bleachers, you'll see that most students don't really pay attention. And the evidence suggests that the alums don't contribute as much as the proponents of athletics might claim.
To its credit, Tulane has the chance to give its students more than the drama of hired-gun athletes and beer in the 'Dome. In its strongest tradition, it can offer the intimate and meaningful undergraduate experience that the super state schools, including my present employer, can only rarely imagine.
This is your chance to really revolutionize the university as a learning place. Why not play to Tulane's strengths and its fiscal demands, at once?
Unless requested otherwise, please include the names and e-mail addresses of those whose messages you post on the task force website. I would like to be able to contact those who feel as I do that the Board is making a huge mistake in eliminating Newcomb. Perhaps we can accomplish something as a group that we are unable to do individually.
It also would be helpful if you would post the names and e-mail addresses of the Board members and Dr. Cowen. The Board has a moral if not legal responsibility to represent the interests of the students and alumni, just as a corporate board represents the interests of the shareholders. Since they failed to ask for our input before this plan was presented, let them hear from us now.
When I was a student at Tulane (Newcomb) in the early '70s, I felt privileged to be attending a university with such a long history and unique traditions. You could virtually feel the historical significance everywhere on campus. It is what makes Tulane special and what made us all feel special to be a part of. If you take that away, you have just another city university that could be interchanged with any other. We alumni did not pay private school tuition to have our degrees devalued in this manner and I ask the Board to reconsider their decision.
Hello, thank you for this opportunity.
Although I have heard from some of the faculty that this is already a done deal, and even that it was suggested that further purchases of
Mignon Faget Newcomb jewelry be discontinued, hard though that is to believe, I would like to say that losing Newcomb as a separate entity and a woman's school, is quite a shame.
I am shocked and saddened to hear of the so-called "renewal" process at Tulane University. It wasn't until I heard about the fundamental eradication of Newcomb College that I realized how unbelievably special and unique being a graduate of Newcomb College is. Yes, when I speak with people I say I am a graduate of Tulane University; yes, Tulane University is what is listed on my resume and on my diploma, but I feel an immense pride in seeing the words Newcomb College listed on that same diploma. As a product of the 21st century who feels completely disconnected from any sense of tradition relying on my Newcomb experience is something that allows me to connect, as a human being, not only a female, to all of the great Newcomb alumni of the past. I do hope the committee reconsiders its decision and allows Tulane to retain its unique-ness and its individual colleges.
As a graduate of Newcomb College, I feel strongly and passionately that the Newcomb name needs to be preserved not only at the campus and within certain departments, but as a part of the degree conferred and the University as a whole. For all of us who received a degree and diploma from "H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College of Tulane University," if that college ceases to exist within the university, what value is our degree? It certainly represented quite a bit of value in 1981, and even more so today in terms of tuition cost.
It is a great tragedy to me that more and more of our educational institutions, great American businesses and structures and many of our national traditions are consistently consumed into large corporate-type structures never to be heard of again. We lose a great deal of pride, integrity and ownership when that occurs in the name of progress and the almighty dollar. I have no illusions that this e-mail will have any bearing on the ultimate decision. This very issue was brought up shortly after my graduation from Newcomb College and I helped to fight the loss at that time quite vehemently. I feel quite strongly, as do many of my fellow alumni, that once the Newcomb name is quietly brushed away at Tulane, so shall our support be quietly brushed away at a time when it is greatly needed. By eliminating Newcomb College from the University, I feel you are eliminating my connection to the university and thus the need for my support. I am sure that this is not the case, as most of the recent correspondence from Tulane has been an appeal for additional funding from alumni to help finance the rebuilding and repair of the campus after Katrina's devastation. However, you should certainly be able to understand the alumni's reluctance to send disposable income to a University which considers their college "disposable," so to speak.
My husband and I have been strong supporters of the University in the financial, alumni, and recruitment areas since our graduation, even though we live well outside of New Orleans. He, too, feels that the University has made a grave error in removing the civil engineering program from its curriculum at a time when Tulane engineers could be in the forefront of the rebuilding effort in New Orleans. Instead, the University has stepped aside to let others do the job and receive the accolades, while many of its alumni, faculty and students are much more qualified and recognized professionally as leaders in these engineering disciplines. Once again this eliminates a vital connection to Tulane.
We sincerely hope that those making these decisions have "an inside view" of the future, and that the University we care so much about will thrive and grow in a city that will recover and go forward. Our best wishes in your difficult endeavors.
I graduated from Tulane A&S in 1983 and Tulane medical school in 1987. I then completed my residency in Otolaryngology (ENT) at Tulane Med in 1993. Fond memories of all.
Regarding ideas for the renewal of Tulane and New Orleans, I'd like to put forth an idea suggested by my wife, Melissa (give credit where credit is due).
Based on Berea University in Kentucky, Melissa suggested that Tulane consider offering scholarships (part versus full) to a certain number of students who would agree to work in New Orleans in industries where manpower is needed, such as the service industries (restaurants, shops, etc.). Not only would this attract students to Tulane, but it would provide much needed manpower to the city as well as create an abundant amount of goodwill between the University, New Orleans and its citizens.
I look forward to your response and the renewal of Tulane and New Orleans.
My husband and I are both graduates of Tulane, me from Newcomb College and Don, in civil engineering, from the College of Engineering. We too will voice our displeasure with the decisions we have heard about so far through the cessation of future donations, including the estate gift we were planning. We certainly understand the problems and hardships that Tulane faces in the wake of Katrina, but there must be other ways to ensure the future viability of the school. I think that you will find as you move forward that the special identity of Newcomb is a significant draw for women considering Tulane. Moreover, dismantling a top-notch engineering program will not solve the problems.
Please step back and consider the consequences of the decisions that you make regarding the future of our great University. Please don't diminish what took so many decades (centuries) to build.
In addition to the plans outlined below to retain the Newcomb name, I would strongly recommend that the name Newcomb College also be used for the women's residential college. That would enable women students to continue to have an association with Newcomb College throughout their undergraduate years.
It would follow suit to name the men's residential college Tulane College. Since that is a much more recent structure (or revived structure) from my point of view, I do not feel nearly as strongly about that choice of a name.
Received Jan. 9:
We appreciate so much your chairing the Task Force, and accepting ideas and suggestions from members of the key Newcomb and Tulane constituent groups in your discussions. The future of our University is so important to all of us, and I pray for guidance in your decisions ahead.
The decision to obliterate Newcomb College from the Tulane landscape has saddened and angered many of us who still have deep feelings regarding our college experience. We were Newcomb students who went to Tulane. The separateness of admission, administration and tradition had special meaning and gave us a unique place to study, live, and become women with limitless potential. It did not matter whether that potential was realized in the work place or at home, we had gone to Newcomb, and that in itself was an accomplishment worth noting. My own daughter will be starting to look at colleges next year. I am heartbroken to think that she cannot even consider going to Newcomb.
Received Jan. 8:
I received your letter soliticing comments regarding the restructure of Tulane College and Newcomb College. I am a 1995 Newcomb graduate and currently work in Home Merchandising for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. The 2 most important aspects of my Newcomb experience were 1) Celebrating the traditions and history of Newcomb and 2) The opportunity to participate in Newcomb's female student government. As we consider the merger of these two entities, I hope that we can preserve these two aspects of the women's college experience.
Newcomb's history as a leader of women's education in the south should be remembered and celebrated as we move into the future. Hopefully, as new classes matriculate, we will continue to teach the history and significance of such key legacies as the Daisy Chain, Newcomb Pottery, and the oaks surrounding the Newcomb Campus. Allowing future genations of Tulane women to feel a part of this long historical tradition will only help to strengthen their lifetime bonds to the university.
As a woman in the business world, I feel that my experience in Newcomb student government gave me confidence and experiences that help me today in my current career. Each year, more and more women are rising to higher ranks in the business world. Actually, I am in a field, retail apparel and home merchandising, that is the majority female. There are not many experiences in business schools or universities that teach how to lead and manage a female workforce. After several years working in Washington DC, I returned to complete an MBA at the University of Virginia. While at UVA, I learned much that has helped my career; however, top business schools continue to teach from a male managerial perspecitive. My undergraduate experience in the Newcomb student government gave me the opportunity to learn how to network, work with, persuade, manage, and lead groups of women. I would say that this has benefited me greatly in my career. I hope that we can allow our female liberal arts graduates the opportunity to experience this as well.
Thank you for taking on this significant task. I hope that I have been able to give you some additional insights into the Newcomb experience. Hopefully, we can renew New Orleans and Tulane to be even better than before.
I have received several letters and notices on the renewal of Tulane and the newly created Board of Administrators Task Force and one thing that I was disappointed in is the lack of someone on the task force that has recently had "the Tulane Experience". From the graduation dates it seems like no one on the Task Force has been on the learning side of the Tulane Experience in over 27 years. While I am sure that all the Task Force add considerable value and expertise I know that Tulane has changed much even since I attended and graduated in 1997 and I feel that having someone who has had a more recent experience may add some very relevant "working knowledge" to the Task Force. Additionally, having members of more recent graduating classes will serve to not only spread the word to potential students through both their peers at work with children embarking on the college selection process but also to younger siblings and friends not to mention the potential for monetary contributions to Tulane's renewal. I believe casting as wide a net as possible initially would be a benefit to the whole process.
I am a 1988 graduate of Newcomb college. I know that in places, Newcomb spirit runs deep. I feel that Tulane could provide the same quality education with the consolidation of the administrations of Newcomb and Tulane College.
However, I feel that eliminating so many of the academic programs is akin to the "academic gutting" of Tulane, one from which the university will never fully recover. This is not the same thing as losing a sports program (like the basketball program in '85). Tulane will lose valuable research dollars, standing in the academic community, and well respected professors.
Received Jan. 7:
I'm a Newcomb '69 grad. I must say that your Renewal Plan was a shock. Perhaps I would be more receptive if you were specific as to the damage incurred by the university. Perhaps then I could more enthusiastically support the drastic change recommended.
It appears to me that Newcomb is a word that will apply only to fine arts programs, buildings, and a campus. I can see Josephine Louise turning over in her grave. The true value of the Newcomb experience will be a thing of the past. Knowing that I could successfully compete academically with smart young women while absorbing the social niceties that only a women's college of Newcomb's caliber could afford has served me well. No matter what the challenge, Newcomb prepared me to meet it. I would think long and hard before eliminating what has been unique to Tulane: Newcomb.
Received Jan. 6:
While I am sure you have gone through all of this in detail, I do feel it will be a loss to the school to close Newcomb as a separate facility. Newcomb is a woman's college and has an identity as such. I do not know if that means anything to potential applicants in 2006 and beyond, but I can tell you that there is a zeitgeist surrounding a resurgence of separate girls' and women's education here in
Atlanta, with girl-specific schools being founded and splitting of classes in existing coed junior and senior highs.
From the practical point of view, will that translate into a prospective student choosing another school over Tulane b/c there is no longer a women's college? I don't know, but it is something to consider.
Perhaps more importantly, it is one thing to toss out underperforming programs and quite another to toss out a 100 yr old tradition, simply in the interest of saving a few bucks in the short run. I cast my vote for continuing Newcomb, at least for the next 5 years, and then reassessing. We are all in shock over the losses New Orleans and Tulane face, but especially on this question, patience and perseverance may truly be a virtue.
Upon receipt of your email in mid-December, I decided that I would like to participate in the preservation and retention of all that I had believed was a stable part of my early years.
It has become evident in the last week, that the Board of Directors and the President of what was Tulane University has no interest in the opinion of anyone.
I suggest the following:
1. A restraining order barring the changes made by Scott Cowen and the Board of Directors.
2. An immediate call to replace the entire Board of Directors and the firing of Scott Cowen.
3. Restoration of admission standards to the Tulane.
4. Disassocation of Newcomb and Tulane Colleges with the new "University College".
If adequate steps cannot be taken to achieve the HIGH STANDARDS formerly associated with my alma mater, the University should be closed.
While the media reports and email links associated with changes appear to justify "difficult decisions", there is no justification for destroying what set aside Newcomb and Tulane from other academic institutions. The current administration is clearly taking the Dollar General/Dollar Tree approach to academia and is turning my alma mater into a paper mill for anyone with any money.
Media reports of how Tulane wants to be central in the restoration of New Orleans would be nice if Tulane had its own store in order. Becoming the new SUNO or the new New Orleans Public School System might be the answer for New Orleans, but it is not the answer for all those who EARNED and PAID for their degrees from this FORMERLY PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERSITY. The administration and Board of Directors owe it to all alumni not to compromise the value of our college. Closing the University is far better than compromising its value.
My degree has meant something to me. Should the changes being instituted be allowed to go unchallenged, my diploma and that of everyone else who EARNED a degree from Newcomb or Tulane, will have no value.
What Katrina did to the Gulf Coast is a natural disaster. What is happening to Tulane is man-made.
I received your letter dated 12/13/05 regarding Tulane's renewal plan....renew Tulane, kill Newcomb College.
I have been a loyal supporter of Newcomb for many years. ...not a huge donor but certainly a long term one. If Tulane does not reverse it's plan to abolish Newcomb College for this insipid " Undergraduate College" remove my name from any future donor list.
My classmate sent the Task Force a thoughtful proposal regarding the restructured "undergraduate college." For all the reasons that she enumerates in her email to you of December 14, I propose taking her idea one step further:
Why not call the "new" undergraduate college simply "Newcomb College"? Paul Tulane's legacy is assured in the name, and heritage, of the entire university. However the official proposal would erase that of Mrs. Newcomb entirely. Unless the reason for using a bland, generic no-name is to preserve a commercial naming opportunity ("Popeye's Undergraduate College"?), there's no good reason to lose the Newcomb name, and every reason to preserve it.
Newcomb College of Tulane University could thus become the undergraduate admissions vehicle for both men and women. The faculties are already integrated. The legacy of both names would live on. If I remember correctly from my stint on the Alumnae Board, Newcomb Alumnae have by far the highest percentage of giving of any university division (although graduates of others, the medical school I think, may contribute more in total dollars). That's too big a resource to risk losing if the Newcomb name were to die, especially in light of the President's appeal for rebuilding funds. There's also precedent: the A. B. Freeman School of Business retains its name, also admitting both men and women for its particular course of study.
There is no doubt that restructuring is essential to Tulane's recovery. However a solution that's inclusive, rather than one that will exclude and alienate large portions of the university community and its donors, seems better destined for success.
With sincere best wishes for successful rebuilding,
The following is a response to the December 13, 2005 letter describing proposed changes to Tulane University. First, I have been a consistent supporter of Newcomb College, and I just had my $500 contribution to the rebuilding fund matched by $1,000 from my employer. My husband graduated A&S in 1970 and Law in 1973. We have lived in his native Chicago since 1973 and visit New Orleans and Tulane regularly. Professionally, I am the Vice President of Philanthropic Services for The Chicago Community Trust, the third largest community foundation in the country and the second oldest, founded in 1915. One of my responsibilities with my staff, is to continue building our $1.4 billion endowment and honoring and protecting the philanthropic intent of the hundreds of donors who have given the Trust funds over the past 90 years.
Having spent 31 professional years in the not-for-profit sector I understand the need to consolidate programs and maximize funding to maintain the mission of Tulane. However, and there is a however, I am concerned about the erosion of Newcomb's image, history and uniqueness. I suggest that the commitment to the education of women must be demonstrated in a more visible way than simply maintaining the name on a few institutions. I often credit my professional success with the education I received at Newcomb College -- the Newcomb of 1969-73.
I understand that many alumni and Tulane friends are working diligently to create a viable Tulane for the 21st century and I will continue to be a supporter. If I can be helpful from my location far up the Mississippi River, please let me know.
Received Jan. 5:
I think that now in the face of financial crisis it probably is time to streamline much of the undergraduate program but to try and save some of the things that provide so many leadership and growth opportunities to female students.
Suggestions for Tulane Renewal Plan 2006 are as follows:
Increase regional support for Tulane by signifying a geographic region of 350 miles (more or less) from New Orleans. Plan to eventually take 50% of Tulane freshman class from this region.. Coordinate recruitment with high schools in the region.
In the last 60 years the University has left the SEC, dropped the name Tulane University of Louisiana and has gradually taken fewer and fewer students from Louisiana and its neighboring states. The de-emphasis of regionalism by Tulane has hurt the region. The decrease in regional Tulane graduates may very well have significantly contributed to the economic decline in the region. There have been profound economic consequences to the region directly related to the loss of regionally educated Tulane graduates.
Now the University is proposing to combine and diminish the Engineering and Science Departments. The loss of critical mass in technological education is devastating and can best be appreciated by looking at a successful regional University with outstanding departments of Engineering and Science like Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute which was founded 10 years before Tulane. Surely one would agree that the New York region benefited from the graduates of Rensselaer. Lastly look at the rapid economic growth of countries like Korea which have benefited from a University educational systems grounded in the Sciences and Engineering.
The Liberal Arts school of Tulane will be almost twice the size of the Science and Engineering school. Engineering and Science majors have the greatest potential for the highest median incomes and the greatest opportunities to find jobs or enter graduate educational programs. The Liberal Arts school should play a dual role: 1) Graduate students capable of finding outstanding jobs in the humanities and social sciences. 2) Sustain in a Minor role Medicine, Law, Business, Architecture, Sociology, Engineering and Science disciplines. Space does not allow for how this could be accomplished. But serious consideration should be given to writing a business plan to augment the Engineering School and develop a 21st Century Science School. Asking Louisiana and neighboring states, private corporations, and the federal government for help could ameliorate financial constraints. Work-study programs would help the students in a manner similar to the Berea College student financial assistance programs.
Therefore I am recommending that the Tulane and Newcomb names and endowments be used to support a program combining regional emphasis on education so that the greatest number of Tulane graduates come from the Mid South. Educate with emphasis the Engineering and Science disciplines so that every Tulane graduate has the technological skills to work in the 21st Century. The median incomes of Louisiana and Mississippi are so low that they both have been last among the 50 states in recent years. Tulane can make a difference.
I received your letter today in the mail, regarding the proposed (and perhaps already instituted?) changes to Tulane's school structure. Quel horreur! I use the french beause I simply cannot express the thought any better in English - it adds some elan, doesn't it?
I understand your need to restructure at a time like this -- maybe it helps with lowering administrative costs, which if that is the case you should have mentioned it in your letter. That would be understandble, given the latitude that is necessary to bring the school back to fruition after the havoc of last year. However, as an alumnus of Newcomb and a Newcomb girl to the end, I was devestated to find out that this is your answer -- because it will help "provide excellent in all aspects of undergraduate life." I disagree.
It's at times like these that the traditions we have become most important -- they are what we revert to, what we understand, what we need.
We don't need Newcomb and Tulane colleges to change; as a matter of fact, we need them to stay the same. We need the traditions associated with being a Newcomb girl or a Tulane man to remain. As a trained folklorist, I can say that with authority; I study cultural traditions for a living. And you need these traditions to remain the same, for now at least, until Tulane can become resituated and the devastation of Katrina and Rita can be left behind. It will be years before these events are gone from the cultural memory of folks outside Tulane, or New Orleans -- let alone in it. My suggestion would be to leave it as is for now; but as I said, I do understand if you have to change it. You have to do what's necessary to ensure Tulane's survival.
To that end, I hope that the traditions your alumni like myself love and hold dear remain and stay strong, not just in word but in deed. It will mean virtually nothing to walk across the stage and gather a diploma that states "H. Sophie Newcomb College" or "Paul Tulane College" if you aren't able to continue the Newcomb wreaths, the Under the Oaks parties, the sense of sisterhood and brotherhood that pervaded us all, greek or not (which I was not). We always managed to cross the divide of boys school/girls school just fine by ourselves as students; I would ask that you reconsider your path and try to figure out a way that the Tulane traditions which held so many of us dear to your heart, and to New Orleans, remain faithful to the memories developed and to be developed.
There's nothing like the feeling I get when I run into another woman in the world and I recognize a ring or pin she is wearing, and we realize we had the same experience, even though we may never have met before in our lives.
Our years, wrinkles, and bodies may serve to separate us, but once recognized a Newcomb alum is like coming home--a little piece of Tulane, of youth, of New Orleans, comes rushing back, and we remember our experiences anew. It's a great feeling. I hope you can keep that feeling alive in our collective cultural memory as well.
My best wishes to each of you during this time.
Here is my input for Tulane:
I think community service should be required of all students to help rebuild New Orleans. The school and student reps could come up with various projects for students to sign up for around the city or on Tulane campus. Instead of classes on Mon,Wed,Fri., I would suggest classes be held Mon Wed, with Friday being community project day.
Students should receive class credit for the work provided, with maybe a paper due at the end of the semester regarding their experiences with their service project.
Would Harvard eliminate Radcliffe if Boston were flooded? Surely there is a way to ensure the future of Tulane without eliminating Newcomb. Is Katrina being used as an excuse to implement an otherwise unacceptable agenda, ala 9/11 and Iraq? It seems that the e-mails you have received are running strongly against this change. A couple of weeks ago, David Brooks of the New York Times was on Meet the Press. The subject was the rebuilding of New Orleans and he seemed rather annoyed that New Orleanians were not receptive to the suggestions of outsiders on how to "reinvent" their city. "They just want their city back," he said.
Well, we just want our university back--leaner, scaled-down to be sure, but not "reinvented". It was pretty great the way it was.
"What if the "new" undergraduate liberal arts college were called simply "Newcomb College"? Paul Tulane's legacy is assured in the name, and heritage, of the entire university. However the official proposal would erase that of Mrs. Newcomb entirely. Unless they're using a bland, generic no-name to preserve a commercial naming opportunity ("Popeye's Undergraduate College"?), there's no good reason to lose the Newcomb name, and every reason to preserve it."
I believe that they are trying to preserve a "naming opportunity". I think they would name it the "Jerry Springer School of Liberal Arts" if he put up enough money.
I received your Dec. 13th letter in Lake Charles just before Christmas. I have served on the Newcomb Alumnae Ass'n's Board in years past and continued to chair one Ad Hoc Committee up to Hurricane Katrina.
My daughter is a 4th generation graduate of Newcomb College. Our family has deep Tulane and Newcomb roots.
People are saying that Newcomb has gone away, no matter what is said otherwise.
Please let us know what has changed concerning Newcomb so that we can have points of dialogue. Please spell out the points of departure. Please spell out what is being discarded. Is the change primarily financial, i.e., do we lose the Newcomb endowment and the chance to restrict our giving to Newcomb College?
Many of us are quite aware of the changes made, and attempted, during 1987-1988. What has now changed of significance since those most significant changes? There was so little left of Newcomb, and perhaps that was a good thing in some ways.
Tulane was an innovator in welcoming Newcomb College into the university in the 1880s when endorsing college education for women was viewed askance. That women learn differently, and in different environments, from men [or girls from boys] is a rather well known fact in some educational circles. Where are we now headed?
Received Jan. 4:
I received your letter dated Dec. 13 regarding the new Undergraduate College. While I understand changes are necessary, I do think that Sophie Newcomb College should be kept as a separate point of entry. Perhaps, other universities with similar all girl colleges within a larger university can be looked at as examples.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to comment on the renewal plan of the University, and thank you for volunteering your time and effort to preserve the traditions of both Tulane and Newcomb College. I graduated from Newcomb College in 1997 and am one of the two class agents for my class. Regrettably, I have not done the best job in fulfilling that role, but I hope to at least contribute in some small way by reflecting on my Tulane/Newcomb experience.
While I was at Newcomb, I was an Oak Wreath Member; Mortar Board President; Newcomb delegate for the Women's College Coalition participation in round table discussions pertaining to action items from President Clinton's "Women and Girls' Policy Agenda"; and received the Newcomb College Class of 1941 Women and Leadership Scholarship in 1997. I reference my connection to Newcomb not for the accolades, but for the special memories and significant impact being a Newcomb graduate has meant for me and my fellow classmates. The activities I participated in and honors I received are a reflection of the belief my fellow classmates, professors, and advisors had in me, when I had little in myself. Newcomb College for me was not only a place of scholarship, but a place of fellowship and friendship. The unique nature of being an all women's college (perhaps the one of the only few in the South) with all the benefits of coeducation environment is what made Tulane an exceptional academic institution for me and for many of my fellow Newcomb alumna.
I understand the need for the Undergraduate College, and my hope is that this is only temporary as Tulane gets back on its feet. Preserving the traditions of Newcomb College that have developed over the years-- the Big/Little Sister Freshman Orientations, the Daisy Chain, Mortar Board, Oak Wreath-- are things that I hope will stay in tact despite the transition. Having Newcomb remain part of the Women's College Coalition is also important, both for its contribution to policy and program advocacy for girls' education and the advancement of women in academia. These are just a few thoughts of mine, and I am happy to continue with discussions regarding the future of Newcomb College if I can further be of assistance.
Best wishes as you move forward with plans, and thanks again for taking on this task.
Roll Wave Roll!
I speak as a freshman entering Newcomb college this year and I am incredibly disappointed with the "Revival Plan." As I see it, it is cutting many of the things that contribute the most to Tulane's vitality as a university. Many of the programs that were used as selling points, especially in my case, Newcomb College, are being cut, and frankly, I feel cheated. After my class's graduation in 2009, chances are that all memories of H. Sophie Newcomb and her generosity in founding a women's college will be lost because of these cuts, and no one will remember that Tulane University had a vibrant women's college and support system. More currently, many of the other freshmen and I appreciated this aspect of TU that was unique and set it apart from the universities we have been attending.
Even more concerning for the general health of the university is your decision to cut undergraduate engineering. We cannot expect to be a first-class university without such a major program, and you can hardly expect the engineers to wait around in the hopes that enough funds will be found to save engineering prior to May 2007. For their own sakes, they will need to transfer as soon as possible. The lack of this major school and the brain drain that will inevitably result will be an incredible tragedy for the whole university.
None of this is including the graduate schools, which as I have seen have taken even larger falls than the undergraduates, nor does it touch upon the sports teams that have been cut in favor of our masochistic football team. The whole affair appears very shady to all of the students who were not given any information prior to this plan's release to the public and after anyone would be able to transfer for the spring semester. I sincerely hope that the entire "Revival Plan" will be rescinded prior to the time when transfers for fall semester will be turned in. I fear that many of the 86% of returning students will transfer then and I may be among them.
Received Jan. 3:
Just a quick note of total support for whatever you decide. I am so proud to be associated with Tulane and feel the utmost respect for the fine work you are doing. During our times spent on campus, Tulane taught all of us to cope creatively with what life offers. Now the school will reap the benefits of its teachings.
I am proud to have graduated from Tulane University’s Newcomb College on May 13, 1995. As an alumna and donor, I appreciate this opportunity to share my thoughts about how Tulane University can preserve Josephine Louise Newcomb's vision of advancing women's education.
After submitting my acceptance letter to Tulane University, I told people that I was going to Tulane University. At the time I had no awareness of Newcomb College. Then, during my freshman year, I met Dr. Margaret King, who was directing the office of student programs at Newcomb. Margaret encouraged me to join Newcomb’s Women in Science. She continued to suggest other Newcomb-sponsored activities, and by graduation I had also participated in the Newcomb Senate, NEW Leadership Project, and Center for Research on Women, as well as several other co-curricular activities and societies.
Margaret did more than merely help me occupy my free time. When I started college, I had no awareness of my leadership abilities. Yet Margaret actually believed in me—this shy, introverted girl who, through years of socialization, had come to believe that she should remain in the background of life’s important challenges. But, because of Margaret’s guidance, I developed confidence in myself.
Newcomb gave me other important benefits. Given my plans for becoming a doctor, I enrolled in courses that would prepare me for medical school. Yet whenever I visited home during break, people—particularly women—often asked me about my plans for meeting a husband. When I changed the subject and talked about my academics and career plans they became uninterested. In the town where I grew up people defined success for a woman solely in terms of her activities as a wife and mother. Because that was what most of the women in my home town did, I felt alone.
Newcomb’s programs connected me with other women—mentors, professors, and students, who talked about where they were and where they were going. Some lived in metropolitan areas, while others lived in small towns. Many had boyfriends and many others preferred being single. They wanted to become journalists, policymakers, artists, and other kinds of professionals. These perspectives broadened my understanding of who I could be and helped me realize that I could make my own choices. I realized that I was not the only woman whose plans consisted of more than living inside the home.
As I continued my college career, I started to see the larger picture. I participated in discussions in which women questioned the origins of various gender inequities. For example, I wanted to know why women receive a smaller paycheck and occupy fewer executive positions as opposed to men. I became devoted to telling as many women as possible that we have a right to demand nothing less than equality in the home and workplace.
As I reflect upon my college experience, I realize what was truly valuable for me and therefore what I envision for other women attending Tulane University. Newcomb College gave me the critical supports, namely mentors and co-curricular activities that I needed to prepare myself for an independent life. These benefits were not mere supplements to my textbook readings and class lectures; they were a central component of my college education.
I emphasize that it was essential that these supports were provided by women for women. My intention is not to exclude men; rather, it is to ensure broader inclusion of women in all spheres of life—home, work, school, and the social setting.
By the time I graduated, I realized that I did not actually want to become a doctor. I therefore faced questions about where to live and what to do with my life. Since then, even as my future becomes ever less predictable, I have found some answers. Despite the uncertainties, I have retained a strong confidence in my ability to succeed. Each morning I place the acorn ring on my hand to remind myself that if other women have navigated through life successfully, I can too.
Given my college experiences, I am compelled to ask that, as Tulane University undergoes the changes necessary not only to survive but also to grow stronger, it continue having women provide mentorship and co-curricular activities designed solely for female students. This entails full administrative endorsement and a budget large enough to cover the operational costs for implementing job responsibilities and program activities as planned. Understandably, this request may be difficult to fulfill, in which case I pose a question: Would it be possible for Tulane University to raise funds for the purposes of maintaining Newcomb’s mentorship and programs?
Thank you for taking the time to listen to Newcomb College alumnae and students. I look forward to hearing about the future of Tulane University.
Best of Luck.
Hello. Thanks for informing me about the upcoming changes. Although I did not support the merge of the Undergraduate College and Newcomb while a student, I understand why this is an important change in support of Tulane's recovery. I think that it is a great idea to maintain the names of the women's and children's center and the art gallery.
As a parent, I think that one of the major concerns to overcome this Fall will be convincing families that New Orleans is safe for students. Most families don't differenciate downtown from uptown and will focus on the television images showing the worst.
I think that the charm of Tulane and the city will bring back students - - I am confident of this.
Please let me know if I can be of assistance.
I was pleased to receive your December 13, 2005 letter indicating that there is now a plan to renew the university in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
I was distressed, however, to read that part of the plan apparently contemplates an undergraduate merger of some sort between Tulane and Newcomb. To the extent, if any, that this means that there will no longer be an identifiable and separate women's college, I am opposed. As a Newcomb grad myself, I found the unique experience of having a separate college for women within the larger university invaluable. Eliminating this separate and important tradition will, in my opinion, destroy what is most special about the university (at least for its women students) and render it just another second or third string private school with little to distinguish it from dozens of others.
I hope you can find ways to renew the university without destroying Newcomb.
Mr. Cowan's plan to eliminate Newcomb is quite disappointing - especially after essentially allowing for no comments or input from alumni. Additionally, "The Undergraduate College" sounds like a cheesy, local "fake" college and certainly does not invoke either the respect or the tradition one expects from Newcomb or Tulane. Why is such an awful sounding name required? If you must go forward with what seems to be a rash decision and rid the school of Newcomb, then just call it Tulane.
I do appreciate the letter updating alumni about the changes at Tulane University, and look forward to what changes you will recommend.
However, one thing disturbs me: where are Task Force committee members who are graduates from the 1980s, 1990s, even more recent ones? There are any number of distinguished alumni from those years who would be valuable in helping chart the course of the univeristy.
You have a fine group already and am sure you don't want it too large, but don't forget those who graduated in the past 25 years--we have brains, money and good ideas.
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to reply to this email. Year end is a very busy time for me professionally and (of course) personally. I am a 1998 graduate of Newcomb College.
I am very upset over the idea that incoming freshman will not have the opportunity to belong to the Newcomb community of women within Tulane University. Newcomb is something special and different. To combine it with Tulane would, I feel, be a serious mistake. Newcomb has its own traditions, history, community and legacy that Paul Tulane (at least to me) seemed to be utterly lacking in. When I was applying to law schools and to programs for my graduate law degree I listed my undergraduate institution as Newcomb College of Tulane University. Being a Newcomb Alum means something to me, and I believe, to the thousands of other woman who have graduated from it over the years.
Additionally, while I was in school, I saw the University waste money
all over the place on programs that I thought were stupid and not designed to improve the situation of undergraduate women. E.g., the tremendous amount of money and energy that went into joining Conference USA at a time when the History department was under funded. I have always thought that Newcomb was much more conscientious about how it allocated financial resources in keeping with its mission. When I have been able to give money to my alma mater, I have intentionally given it to Newcomb, not to the University. I can't imagine ever giving money to Tulane University. However, in the wake of Katrina, I had intended to set up Newcomb as a planned giving recipient through my firm's corporate match program. I don't know if I'll be able to do that now.
It is my belief that the proposed merger of Paul Tulane and Newcomb colleges into a single Undergraduate college would be a mistake for Newcomb. If you would prefer that I formally submit these comments in writing or if you have follow up questions, please let me know.
I am a Newcomb/Tulane University '03 graduate and I am very excited that Tulane will be up and running on the 17th. It is a very positive sign that the school and City that I remember so fondly will thrive once again.
Notwithstanding the encouraging steps outlined in the December 13, 2005 letter to Newcomb and Tulane College alumni, I am disappointed that there is no one on the task force who graduated more recently than 1978. In order to connect with and appeal to the incoming students, more recent graduates should be included. It is puzzling to me that graduates from the past 25 years have been excluded from such an important initiative.
If I can be of help with this initiative, please do not hesitate to contact me. Good luck with the new semester.
I want to give my enthusiastic endorsement to the Tulane Renewal Plan, which I first read about a few weeks ago in the Los Angeles Times and have now been able to examine in more detail in Darryl Berger and Linda Wilson's letter of 13 December 2005. On two fronts, I think the plan is a shrewd move. First, as a university professor myself (thirty years at Georgetown University and two and a half at the University of Southern California) I can say that the new plan acknowledges Tulane's potentialities for undergraduate education and cuts its losses in graduate education. The Tulane plan promises to reap the same success as the decision by my post-graduate alma mater, the University of Rochester, to cut back on graduate programs that lacked a national profile in favor of high-quality undergraduate education. Rochester's decision, although it severely curtailed the graduate program in English in which I earned my PhD, has resulted in a much more distinguished undergraduate program than when I studied there as a graduate student, from 1968 to 1972. Washington University in St. Louis (where I almost moved five years ago) has accomplished a similar feat and has emerged as a "hot" undergraduate school in the high second tier. On a more personal front, I can say that I wish Tulane had made this move forty one years ago. Graduating from high school in Jackson, Mississippi, I was initially attracted to Tulane because of its School of Architecture. But architecture demanded a separate application for admission from A&S and locked its students into a professional program that had little room for the liberal arts. I just couldn't make that commitment right out of high school--but I did go on to take a History of Architecture course in my senior year, much to the amazement of the architecture students, who regarded the course as a bore and a distraction. Besides me, a Newcomb student was the only non-architecture person in the course.
Received Jan. 2:
Please keep awarding the Class of 1909 Prize
to the Outstanding Senior. This has been a Newcomb
tradition for many years. As a former recipient,
I know that it holds a special place in my heart
and is something I am very proud of. Even though
there may not be the same distinction of Newcomb
and Tulane undergraduate colleges, I hope you
can think of a way to continue this tradition
and not have it fade away.
I understand the need for many economies at many
levels. I am happy for the preservation of
the Newcomb name to the extent it has been
Surely, there were ways "Newcomb College" could have been "saved" had there been more loyalty to Sophie Newcomb's educational legacy. I think with more thought and effort, this bell could be unrung. E.g., why not use nominally "double" administrative or faculty appointments as necessary to for savings?
Or better yet, why not do in Tulane's Arts and Sciences and for the time being at least invite qualified males to attend Newcomb College?
I applaud you for taking on such an awesome
task and wish you luck in
Happy to know that Newcomb will not disappear
from view. PLEASE do not
The Renewal Plan to get rid of Newcomb College
is a misguided, sad
I received the letter from Darryl and Linda
and I have a few questions
Received Jan. 1:
I appreciated the candid information in your
recent letter regarding the reorganization of
Tulane. Following are some of my thoughts, in
response to your request for comments.
People will be suspicious of changes at Tulane.
They will think the good changes were in progress
before Katrina and that other changes may be
signs that Tulane is now less attractive. I recently
received a letter from a couple of friends whose
daughter had planned to attend Tulane but who
is now considering other alternatives too. At
present, people don't know what to think about
Tulane. How bad was the damage to the campus?
How soon will things on campus be normal again?
How will the quality of education and quality
of life be different after Katrina? Students
and their parents are consumers, and they will
consider other schools when they decide whether
to enroll at Tulane.
I have focused on the message Tulane sends to the world. Tulane's future depends upon that message, but it also depends upon the accuracy of the message.
To the Board of Administrators Task Force:
Thank you for your letter dated December 13,
2005. I am a 2000 graduate of
It is unfortunate Katrina forced changes on
the school and eliminated
I don't mean to make my contributions sound
overly important, but I want the task force to
know that I also have a vested interest in the
I am just writing to briefly thank you for soliciting my input as a recent Tulane College graduate (summer 2005) and to comment on "suggestions (I) might have for (your) efforts". I don't know if this vague message is relevant to your curriculum restructuring or resource allocations, but I would like to express what I said when asked to interview for the upcoming Tulane admissions video, and that is that: for an out-of-state 18 year-old who is experiencing their first life away from home (the majority of incoming freshman), Tulane is a place that almost equally offers opportunity for excellence in one of two polar extremes, the academic and the apathetic. As evident by a frankly deplorable freshman retention rate prior to Hurricane Katrina of around 70%, students either find their path through the varied array of academic obstacles, including but not limited to exams (by a long shot), or they drop out or they find a better place to spend about $38,000 a year.
I think the key to which result occurs is connection with a positive influence loyal to and believing in the University and the goals it attempts to achieve. That is why I would liike to throw my two cents in to say that any possible encouragement that your Renewal Plan can contribute toward the members of the school that go above and beyond their explicit responsiblities as ambassadors and mentors to students should be recognized. Rewards in the form of research grant prizes, plaques, announcements, etc... could do much to support those who do so much to support the students and thereby support the school. It is not a secret who these people are to those who invest themselves in the daily life of the university. They include professors that every freshman hears from seniors that he or she needs to take because they are good lecturers, each advisor that holds clout as a student advocate among their colleagues, the administrator that organizes innovative forums for opinions to be voiced, and essentially anyone that makes a real connection with freshman students who might be lost in the sess pool of many freshman dormitories or the enticements of Bourbon Street.
Secondly, I think that it would highly benifit the overall atmosphere of the freshman student experience if they could have feedback that their first-semester or first-year efforts are worthwhile. I would love to see each college identify those students that come to the school and immediately enter student organizations, participate in sports, play in musical ensembles, volunteer in the community, excel in the classrroom, etc... The leaders of the school make their marks early. Why not recognize them? I fully support the recycling of scholarship money that those students who enter Tulane with funding and fail to perform to retain it in to the next year. Leading students without scholarships who outperform those who enter with them should be regonized in the way that impacts their lives and encourages further positive performances.
I hope that you take under consideration, along with the large workload that you likely already have, increased recognition of the students' best mentors and the early leaders among students by giving them funding and public recognition for their efforts. Provost Lefton once described Tulane as a 'sleeping giant' with all of its resources and talent and tradition but less-than-full-potential performance as of late. I think that these are two very real ways to wake up what makes Tulane good and can lift it to greatness. Thanks for your time and consideration.
In response to your letter, your dilemma is
how to balance the immediate