Letters to the Editor

Pondering Baton Rouge
Re: “What to Do About Baton Rouge,” Speaking Out column, March 2008 issue.
In the days that followed Katrina, I happened upon a Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce Power Point presentation while searching the Web for the latest storm information. It was a plan of action regarding how the Baton Rouge area should handle the influx of evacuating businesses and their own press relationships in response to Katrina.
This Power Point presentation indicated that the Baton Rouge Chamber was intending to keep the small businesses that were being forced into their area. And it indicated how they would court the press and how to use the opportunity with the national press to present themselves as “the” major city in Louisiana.
No mention of any sympathy, assistance to or care for the city of New Orleans was indicated in the presentation. It was a straightforward plan to use the opportunity to take center stage and move past New Orleans.
It was an eye-opener, even for one who has long done business in both cities.
Don’t be fooled. Baton Rouge has always considered itself superior to New Orleans and competitive with New Orleans, even before Katrina. Baton Rouge is, and always has been, focused on Baton Rouge.
Personally, I think New Orleans should gladly turn the mantle of power over to Baton Rouge and go back to being a wonderful little city, full of culture and history.
Let Baton Rouge have their day. Every dog has one … at least for a while.

Debra Mosby

Ed. Note: The following letters are in response to our Education column, entitled “Newcomb Musings” which appeared in our January ’08 issue. Letters in response to this topic were also published in our February and March issues.     

Thank you for publishing Dawn Ruth’s excellent article regarding the struggle to preserve Newcomb College. Ms. Ruth is the first reporter to write clearly about the course of Howard v. Tulane, the lawsuit to restore Newcomb to its status as a degree-granting college for women within Tulane University. She discerns with equal clarity that the closure of Newcomb College and the effacement of the Newcomb name is an affront to women and to the generosity of its founder as indeed it is. I wonder if the radio public will ever hear again that a performance is scheduled to be at “Newcomb’s Dixon Hall on the Newcomb Campus” and not “Tulane’s Dixon Hall.” These small things add up as Ms. Ruth appreciates.
I should like to say further that by eliminating Newcomb College in its post-Katrina Renewal Plan, the Tulane Board of Administrators dealt a bludgeoning blow to higher education. Without wisdom or foresight it ripped away from   future generations the opportunity to receive a degree from a college that for 120 years had proven its academic worth and that by its unique position as a coordinate liberal arts and science college within a major research university, attracted an ever–increasing number of exceptional female students. Meanwhile Tulane promotes Casino Resort Studies at its Biloxi Campus. There is, as Ms. Ruth might say, something “wrong with this picture.”   
Alicia Rogan Heard
New Orleans

A note of appreciation to Dawn Ruth for her excellent and well researched article “Newcomb Musings” (January 2008). Her informative and clearly written article explains clearly what Tulane University’s administration has tried to conceal from Newcomb Alumnae in their fund raising effort. On the one hand, in its fund raising mailings requesting gifts to Newcomb, it states that all is well and Newcomb College’s endowment is intact and under the supervision of the interim director of the Newcomb Institute while on the other hand, in legal arguments, the administration claims that all of Mrs. Newcomb’s monies were spent long ago and that there is no Newcomb endowment. Ungrateful to say the least.
Karen Edmunds
New Orleans

I agree wholeheartedly with Yvette Jones: What a difference 100 years make, indeed! Tulane University went from honoring the wishes of Josephine Louise Newcomb in 1908 to disregarding them in 2008.  
For instance, the minutes from a late 1908 meeting of Tulane’s Board of Administrators quotes James McConnell, a Board Member and Mrs. Newcomb’s attorney, “ … assuring [Mrs. Newcomb] as I did, that the Board of Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund would devote the property bequeathed by her to them entirely to the benefit and development of the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College.” Today, the Tulane administration dismisses Mrs. Newcomb’s specific instructions to use the bequest to “establish and maintain” the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College – and claims she would be pleased that the College she endowed to advance “the cause of female education in Louisiana” has “evolved” into a non-degree granting institute.
It is highly unlikely that Mrs. Newcomb would be “pleased” to learn that the prestigious college named in memory of her daughter has been dissolved and replaced by a paper organization with no academic standing, no dean, no degrees, no advisors, no campus, and no student body.
Tulane’s misuse of Mrs. Newcomb’s money and the flippant way they treat her daughter’s memory are inexcusable.  
The battle over the future of Newcomb College is far from over. Recently, the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously voted to grant a writ and review the appeal of Howard v. Tulane University, the donor intent lawsuit filed by Mrs. Newcomb’s descendants and funded by Newcomb College alumnae and supporters. The court clearly realizes there are important issues that need to be resolved, and that the final outcome of this case will impact the future of charitable giving in Louisiana. 
Renée F. Seblatnigg
President of The Future of Newcomb College, Inc. (www.newcomblives.com), an organization working to save Newcomb College.
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