RESPONSE TO A CHANGING WORLD
Tulane University’s School of Liberal Arts is at the heart of the university, encompassing both the traditional academic disciplines that have organized human inquiry for millennia and newer interdisciplinary fields, which have emerged in response to a changing world. The liberal arts are at the core of our attempt to understand what makes human existence meaningful and at the forefront of thought, allowing us to grapple with the fundamentals and the frontiers of knowledge. As an institution, Tulane has deep roots in the liberal arts tradition. It is part of our culture and character, and as we move forward to face the challenges of today and tomorrow, the School of Liberal Arts’ commitment to fostering innovative scholarship, creative inquiry and transformative research is more important now than ever.
With 16 departments and 20 interdisciplinary programs, the School of Liberal Arts houses the humanities, social sciences and fine and performing arts disciplines at Tulane University. With countless possible opportunities and pathways to follow, we teach students how to think and how to learn. The School of Liberal Arts fluidly reaches across academic boundaries through innovative courses, dynamic programming and path-breaking research, and recognizing that diverse fields within the liberal arts come together in unpredictable interdisciplinary combinations to advance understanding of our complex reality.
As we look ahead to a new era of academic ambition, transforming the undergraduate experience is at the heart of our mission. And the School of Liberal Arts, through which all Tulane students pass at some point in their undergraduate experience, with the wide array of fields we embrace, and with our relentless passion for learning and discovery, is at the center of Tulane. To do so, we must start from the ground up, transforming the student experience by transforming their learning environment.
Newcomb Hall is a distinguished and iconic edifice that stands as a pillar of the uptown campus. Built as the academic and administrative home of Newcomb College during WWI, it has served our community in numerous iterations for over 100 years. As uses shifted and needs changed, stopgap adaptations were put in place, only for these to be followed by new stopgaps for new emergent needs. The layers of changes lacked a totality of vision, severely undercutting the original design and resulting in an array of dim, cramped spaces. While the School of Liberal Arts continues to draw a wide range of students, students are disheartened by the condition of Newcomb Hall.
A full-scale renovation is in order, offering a rare opportunity not just to alter a building, but to change the entire learning experience. A renovation of this magnitude will raise the profile of the School of Liberal Arts on campus, demonstrating that Tulane is not only committed to honoring our history, but that we are equally committed to a promising future driven by innovations in collaboration, learning and research. Our students will take pride in their collegiate home as it brings together the storied grace of the original design with a revitalization that prepares students for tomorrow.
The updates to Newcomb Hall will mirror Dean Brian Edwards’ vision for the liberal arts at Tulane, providing an environment for increasing the liberal arts’ range, and deepening Tulane’s commitment to media and communication, a forward-thinking preparation for careers of the future, the environment, languages, and cultures of the world.
As the largest of the historic buildings on the uptown campus yet to be renovated on any scale, we must take on this renovation now in order to demonstrate our commitment to transforming the undergraduate student experience. Breaking down the maze of tiny offices and classrooms that currently occupy Newcomb Hall will not only bring back the light-filled splendor of James Gamble Rogers’ original vision, it will reflect the breaking down of barriers between fields that is the essence of the liberal arts model in the 21st century.
-Dean Brian Edwards
The vision for the renovation of Newcomb Hall takes James Gamble Rogers’ light-filled original conception, carved up over the intervening century, and reimagines it around the principles of interdisciplinary synergies. In the first stage of this large-scale renovation, we create a dynamic first-floor that reverses the usual orientation, and opens up to Newcomb Quad, featuring collaboration spaces, interdisciplinary meeting rooms, and a suite dedicated to our trademark program Strategy, Leadership, and Analytics Minor (SLAM). On the fourth floor, we create a space for the Department of Communication and our fast-growing Program in Digital Media Practices, featuring screening rooms, editing and finishing suites, a green screen shooting room, and a podcast recording studio. This is an exciting, light filled space to inspire and to educate, where the full range of the digital and communication arts can commingle.
We’re excited for the many opportunities this critical renovation will offer the School of Liberal Arts community. With a full-scale renovation, we have a rare moment when we can establish spaces that reflect our culture and curriculum. Ours is a collaborative culture, and the many shared physical spaces incorporated in this renovation will center and elevate that commitment to collaboration, sparking a rich cross-pollination of ideas across majors and between students and faculty.
In addition to these collaborative spaces, the renovated Newcomb Hall will offer an exciting event space on the first floor, allowing a space for speakers, large meetings, and marquee events. By welcoming guests and colleagues in a modern, dedicated space, Tulane will demonstrate the esteem with which the liberal arts are held.
We break ground on this exciting renovation mid-year in 2024. We’ve received approval for work on the most critical elements of Newcomb Hall, namely the first and fourth floors. Along the way, we’ll bring the infrastructure of the entire building, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, new plumbing and sprinkler systems, an upgraded elevator, and modern restrooms and mother’s rooms to this 92,000 sq. ft. building. With an open central lobby and spaces for our entire community, the first floor of Newcomb Hall will stand as the heart of our thriving community.
SLAM (Strategy, Leadership and Analytics Minor) Center
SLAM is Tulane’s most popular program, with more than 500 undergraduates complementing their liberal arts training with dedicated courses to prepare them for the careers and challenges of the future. With specialized tracks in areas from the creative industries to next generation promotion and marketing, SLAM allows undergraduates to pursue their passions and leverage the profound skills of a liberal arts education alongside jobs across the employment landscape. Reflecting its importance to our core mission, the SLAM suite allows students to come together and collaborate, meet with our dynamic faculty and find the kinds of synergies that multi-disciplinary training allow for.
In an area as diverse and wide-ranging as the liberal arts, forward-thinking leadership is essential. The Dean’s Office boasts not only offices for Liberal Arts leaders, but flexible spaces for our interdisciplinary programs to meet with students, gather faculty and hold seminars. A conference room and public event space (both already named) will be focal points for the next generation of students. Central to the Dean’s Office is a spacious North Gallery where the artistic products and publications of our world-class faculty will be proudly displayed.
Bustling and high energy, the Central Lobby is a natural gathering space at the heart of the new Newcomb Hall. This expansive space provides a marquee area for celebrations, alumni events, poster displays and community events. Located in the center of the first floor, adjacent to the Dean’s Office, and accessed through Newcomb Hall’s iconic main entrance, the Central Lobby offers access to the Event Space and two breakout rooms, making it a natural space for showcasing student work, encouraging student collaboration and holding the type of welcoming gatherings that raise the profile of the liberal arts across our community.
A renovation as substantial as this one offers an array of opportunities for committed donors, from classrooms to offices to breakout rooms. Contact your development officer to learn more about how you can take part in this meaningful revitalization of one of the most storied buildings on the uptown campus. Your gift would be a deeply impactful step toward the future of Newcomb Hall and the School of Liberal Arts.
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