Tulane Allowed to Ax Women’s College

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New Orleans’ Tulane University acted within its legal rights when it eliminated its women-only undergraduate institution, Newcomb College, in 2006. According to an article by John Pope in The Times-Picayune:

By a 3-2 vote, a state appeals court today sided with Tulane University in a suit seeking to force the university to reopen Newcomb College. The plaintiff [Susan Henderson Montgomery], a great-great-great-niece of the college’s founder, has not decided whether to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

In her lifetime and in her will, Josephine Louise Newcomb gave about $3.5 million for the school, an amount worth about $50 million today. The plaintiff has contended that Tulane violated the terms of her relative’s gift — to keep the college open perpetually — when it closed the school. The court sided with Civil District Judge Rosemary Ledet, who has ruled that no such condition existed.

Newcomb founded the college, the coordinate women’s college of Tulane, in 1886 in memory of her daughter.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Tulane, which has been coeducational since 1970, closed Newcomb College to save money. Newcomb alumni and several relatives of the founder objected and formed an organization (see image above) to try and revive the school.

Tulane changed the college into the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College Institute, which “supports undergraduate women at Tulane by providing academic and leadership programming, hosting speakers, symposia and international summits, funding student research projects …and fostering mentor and networking relationships with Newcomb alumnae and other community leaders.”

The new name leaves it unclear whether the institute is a memorial to Miss Newcomb or to the college itself. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer