New Challenge Filed to Reopen H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College

A new challenge was filed Wednesday to reopen H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College by the founder’s great-great-great-niece, Susan Henderson Montgomery. While working to recover from Hurricane Katrina, Tulane University merged H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, one of the oldest degree-granting colleges for women in the US, with its six other undergraduate colleges.

Montgomery, of Franklin, Massachusetts, argues she has the legal right to file a challenge under an opinion handed down in July by the Louisiana Supreme Court, where the court ruled that only “would-be” heirs are legally able to sue to “enforce conditions of a will,” according to the Associated Press. Two similar suits have been filed that argue Tulane’s actions have violated the terms of founder Josephine Newcomb’s bequest. The first suit was thrown out and the second petition resulted in the July state Supreme Court ruling. The new suit holds weight because Montgomery can legally be considered an heir due to blood relationship and her position in the direct line of inheritance.

The petition seeks to reestablish the college by proving that Newcomb wished that her bequest only be used for the women’s college and that using the endowment to fund the new H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College Institute, which is currently incorporated as part of Tulane, does not fulfill the conditions of Newcomb’s will.


Ms. Magazine, Fall 2006; Associated Press 8/20/08; Times-Picayune 8/20/08

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