Tulane Lawyers Argue Case for Newcomb Institute

May 9, 2007

Michael Strecker
Phone: (504) 865-5210

Attorneys for Tulane University argued before a three-judge panel at the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal that the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College Institute is consistent with the donative intent and will of Josephine Louise Newcomb.

"Tulane has always been, and continues to be, committed to fulfilling the desires of Josephine Newcomb to further women's education at Tulane and to honor the memory of her daughter, H. Sophie Newcomb," says Yvette Jones, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Tulane University.

Tulane is confident of its legal position and expects to prevail, as it has already in two separate cases -- one filed in federal court and the other in state court. The appeal of the state court case is now before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. In both previous cases the courts concluded that Tulane acted appropriately in implementing Tulane University's Post-Katrina Renewal Plan with respect to merging the undergraduate programs of seven colleges, including Newcomb.

The purpose of the merger was to improve undergraduate education while preserving the long history of educational programs for women at Tulane and avoid the overlapping and inconsistent undergraduate offerings of the past.

"In her will, Josephine Louise Newcomb placed no conditions on the use of her donations, but entrusted them to the discretion of the Administrators of Tulane University. The Administrators have always exercised that discretion in a manner that is in the best interests of Tulane University and all of its constituents," says Victoria Johnson, general counsel of Tulane.

In her initial gift, Mrs. Newcomb made clear that she did not impose restrictions which would allow any person, such as the plaintiffs, to interfere with Tulane's use of her donation, and that the donation was "committed fully and solely" to the discretion of Tulane, Johnson said.

The plaintiffs have failed to show that they have legal standing to sue Tulane and they have failed to show that any funds donated by Mrs. Newcomb are being used for any purpose other than what she intended. Additionally, the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that they will suffer any irreparable injury from the Renewal Plan, says Johnson.

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