Newcomb College, a women’s liberal arts college in New Orleans, will remain closed after a judge dismissed a suit seeking to compel Tulane University to resurrect the school, according to an article by John Pope of The Times-Picayune.
The coordinate women’s college of Tulane was closed in July 2006 as a way to cut costs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to Jeff Greer of U.S. News and World Report. The great-great-great niece of Josephine Louise Newcomb, the college’s founder, is the plaintiff in the suit. She argued that closing the school violated the terms of the founder’s gift. The judge ruled, however, that the founder’s will had no specific language barring Newcomb from being closed.
Columbia’s Stephens College, which is also a women’s liberal arts school, has had its own fair share of economic troubles. Unlike Newcomb, however, Stephens is not a coordinate college, and it therefore stands on its own as an educational institution.
As previously reported by the Missourian, Stephens chose to sell Stephens Lake Park in December 1998 in order to try and regain its economic footing.
Also around that time, many community members began to look unfavorably on Stephens; this was due, at least partially, to Stephens not keeping up many historic buildings on campus, according to the Missourian.
The downturn climaxed when President Marcia Kierscht resigned in September 2002, later receiving a vote of no confidence from the faculty. In July 2003, Wendy Libby took over the position of president and launched her “Renaissance Plan,” which successfully pulled Stephens out of financial crisis.
Tia LaFavor, 21, an equestrian business management major at Stephens, said it is a tragedy that Newcomb is closing and hopes nothing of that sort ever happens at Stephens.
“I would be very upset and angry,” LaFavor said. “Personally, it would completely ruin everything I have planned.”
C. Stephenson, 19, is a sophomore majoring in business at Stephens. She said she understood why Newcomb closed.
“I think due to the economic situation, it’s necessary,” Stephenson said. “It’s easier for the college as a whole.”
Like LaFavor, Stephenson also hopes Stephens is never forced to close.
“I would feel disappointed,” she said, “and as students, we should do all we can to keep it open.”
Stephenson said she thinks women’s colleges are important because of the unique learning environment they offer to women.
“It gives women the chance to grow together and to discover who they are,” she said.
LaFavor, who is now a senior, said she initially did not want to go to a women’s college, but chose Stephens because of its basketball and equestrian programs, both of which she is involved in.
“It’s the best place to be,” she said. “This is a very close-knit community, and I would never choose another school.”
As previously reported by the Missourian, Libby left Stephens in June 2009 to become president of Stetson University in Florida. Dianne Lynch was selected as the new president of Stephens; she is the former dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College in New York.
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