Letters to the Editor
Re: March 2008 issue.
First, regarding the string of letters concerning the future of Newcomb College, I personally applaud Scott Cowen’s actions during and following Hurricane Katrina to preserve and sustain Tulane University as an institution. I believe the university was lucky that he was in charge because, frankly, there are few individuals who could have so successfully led Tulane through this critical time. Some of the changes he made, while regrettable, were necessary and possibly overdue. Speaking as an Engineering graduate, I was sad to see so much of the School of Engineering eliminated but I also understand that many curricula had been on the verge of elimination before Katrina and the storm made it a matter of survival to let them go. I can understand and accept the rationale as well as applaud the vision and courage to implement the tough choices.
I have a harder time with the change in the status of Newcomb College. While the letters previously published have focused on legal aspects and interpretation of the Newcomb Endowment, I focus more on the sense of purpose and “specialness” that has been lost. The cover story of the spring 1988 edition of Tulanian magazine (the magazine for Tulane alumni) is “Newcomb looks to its future.” This story reported on a major change to Newcomb College, the Tulane Board of Administrators’ action to create the single liberal arts and sciences faculty from Newcomb and the College of Arts and Sciences, while taking steps to “preserve and strengthen Newcomb’s identity.” Then, as now, Newcomb’s faculty and alumnae opposed the changes “in the belief that Newcomb already had lost much of its distinctiveness as a college for women and needed to be maintained and strengthened.” The Board of Administrators said that it had taken “major steps to assure the identity and continued excellence of Newcomb College.” It is disheartening to see that 20 years and a hurricane could change this.
Second, the article (“Remember Howard Johnson’s”) about the anniversary of the Howard Johnson’s shooting rampage was well done but I think that the story of the air support provided to the police should also be revealed to the public. As I remember it (I was a student at LSUNO at the time), the police helicopters were inoperative, so the NOPD was left in a very difficult tactical situation. City authorities appealed for help from the Marine helicopter unit at the Naval Air Station Belle Chasse but at the time there was no official procedure in place to request such help in light of the Posse Commitatus Act (there is now). Acting on his own authority, the Marine squadron commander provided an unarmed helicopter from which NOPD officers shot Mark Essex, ending the standoff, but was subsequently disciplined for his decision. A few years later, as a Tulane NROTC midshipman, I met the Marine officer onboard the French ship Jeanne d’Arc, where he told me his version of the story. Because of the political sensitivity of active military forces providing direct support to the NOPD in a racially charged atmosphere, I doubt that the DoD has put out much information on this event and consequently the New Orleans public is probably unaware of the courage of the Marines that helped stop the sniper. Because it’s likely that I don’t have the story entirely correct, this subject might be worth research and a follow-up story.
Finally, thank you very much for the article (“NOPD SWAT”) about the NOPD’s actions during the recent housing protests. The information about the event provided in the national media was very slanted towards the protesters. The only national information I saw that wasn’t, was links to The Times Picayune article about Sharon Jasper and her 60-inch television.
Michael C. Huete
Tulane Engineering 1976
JILL JACKSON’S SCHOOL
Re: “Jill Jackson’s Salad Days,” Chronicles of Recent History column by Carolyn Kolb. February 2008 issue.
To the editors of New Orleans Magazine,
Congratulations on your beautiful magazine. Thanks for including me and to Carolyn Kolb for the nice words. One small correction, I didn’t graduate from Newman; I attended Sophie Wright High School.
Re: Healthbeat. April 2008 issue.
Ochsner Health System incorrectly stated a report of a gift from The Larry Reynolds Fund in memory of David Stone. A memorial fund in David Stone’s name is being established by a family member. However, the contribution from The Larry Reynolds Fund is not a part of the memorial.