Fast Company

Gathering Clouds at Tulane

No one would disagree with the fact that Tulane President Scott Cowen has done a hell of a job bringing his university back from the brink following Hurricane Katrina (access code required). But not everyone has supported his attempt to remake the school in the ensuing months. Yesterday, a group of students and alumnae of Newcomb College, Tulane's longtime women's college, filed a lawsuit against the school. Their goal is to stop Cowen and Tulane's board from shutting down Newcomb, as it has announced it will do in July. The suit claimed "irreparable injury, loss and damage" if the Board is not restrained from eliminating Newcomb Memorial College or reallocating funds derived from the $41 million Newcomb endowment.

Cowen says he's merely trying to streamline the school and divert resources to those areas in which it has a chance to be world-class. Newcomb alums argue that Newcomb, which has been around for over a century, has a history and reputation that should last far beyond the current financial constraints. Whatever happens, it's clear that Cowen's ambitious moves have hit a nerve.

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8 Comments

  • Randall

    Blogs are an informal means of communication. Despite the grammatical errors, my argument is valid.

  • Meertos

    They also wanted to build a high rise medical center and hotel on Tulane's Uptown Square location, but this proposal was not received well by local residents and the New Orleans City Council scaled back the plans drastically.

  • Laura Spriggs

    John, are you really that shortsighted? Personal attacks are not constructive on these sites. If you don't have commentary on the issue then move on.

  • John

    Sara Jane, perhaps Newcomb fell a little short in the spelling department? Substancial? You also have some grammatical errors, but I am not going to correct those. You lose credibility with your argument because of these mistakes.

  • Randall

    Within the last three years, Mr. Cowen and Tulane's provost Lestor Lefton have embarked on a drastic campaign to remake the University. They built a new business school, gutted the current Student Union and began construction on a new design, tore down three residential dormitories and started construction on two replacements, and tore down our current baseball stadium in order to build a replacement. They also wanted to build a high rise medical center and hotel on Tulane's Uptown Square location, but this proposal was not received well by local residents and the New Orleans City Council scaled back the plans drastically. In addition, I have been told the new Student Union construction was extremely under budgeted due to faulty engineering analysis of the current building's support structure. I’ve also been told the new baseball stadium was under budgeted due to initial plans which didn't take into account large drainage culverts buried under the existing field. As a Tulane alumnus, I completely understand the need for drastic measures to keep the university financially viable. Unfortunately, I suspect the source of Tulane’s current financial struggles is tied with Mr. Cowen's liberal spending.

  • Sara Jane Klingaman

    Unfortunately, this article did not include all of the many and varied student and alumnae efforts leading up to the lawsuit.

    Newcomb is one of the first coordinate colleges in the nation. It is an academically excellent women's college and has a far-reaching and important history.

    As an alum I can say that Newcomb had a profound impact and positive influence on my life. Newcombs offers women the substancial benefits of a single gender education within the larger co-educational environment of Tulane University.

    The lawsuit was not a first response, but rather a necessity mandated by the deaf ears of Cowen and his refusal to work together toward a win-win solution to the rebuilding of Tulane University as a whole.

  • David

    Seems that rather than waste money on a lawsuit that gets them nowhere, they should start negotiations to extract the college from the larger university and work the brand as a focused entity.