Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian research university located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. Founded as a public medical college in 1834, the school grew into a comprehensive university in 1847 and was eventually privatized under the endowments of Paul Tulane and Josephine Louise Newcomb in 1884. Tulane is a member of the Association of American Universities.
Founding and early history 19th century Paul Tulane, eponymous philanthropist of the school The university was founded as the Medical College of Louisiana in 1834 partly as a response to the fears of smallpox, yellow fever and cholera in the United States. The university became only the second medical school in the South, and the 15th in the United States at the time. In 1847, the state legislature established the school as the University of Louisiana, a public university, and the law department was added to the university. Subsequently, in 1851, the university established its first academic department. The first president chosen for the new university was Francis Lister Hawks, an Episcopalian priest and prominent citizen of New Orleans at the time. The university was closed from 1861 to 1865 during the American Civil War.
After reopening, it went through a period of financial challenges because of an extended agricultural depression in the South which affected the nation's economy. Paul Tulane, owner of a prospering dry goods and clothing business, donated extensive real estate within New Orleans for the support of education. This donation led to the establishment of a Tulane Educational Fund (TEF), whose board of administrators sought to support the University of Louisiana instead of establishing a new university. In response, through the influence of former Civil War general Randall Lee Gibson, the Louisiana state legislature transferred control of the University of Louisiana to the administrators of the TEF in 1884. This act created the Tulane University of Louisiana. The university became privatized, and is one of only a few American universities to be converted from a state public institution to a private one. In 1885, the university established its graduate division, later becoming the Graduate School. One year later, gifts from Josephine Louise Newcomb totaling over $3.6 million, led to the establishment of the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College within Tulane University. Newcomb was the first coordinate college for women in the United States and became a model for such institutions as Pembroke College and Barnard College. In 1894 the College of Technology formed, which would later become the School of Engineering. In the same year, the university moved to its present-day uptown campus on historic St. Charles Avenue, five miles by streetcar from downtown New Orleans. 20th century A view of Gibson Hall in 1904, located on the uptown campus of Tulane University. With the improvements to Tulane University in the late 19th century, Tulane had a firm foundation to build upon as the premier university of the South and continued this legacy with growth in the 20th century.
In 1901, the first cornerstone was laid for the F.W. Tilton Library, endowed by New Orleans businessman and philanthropist Frederick William Tilton (1821-1890). During 1907, the school established a four-year professional curriculum in architecture through the College of Technology, growing eventually into the Tulane School of Architecture. One year later, Schools of Dentistry and Pharmacy were established, albeit temporarily. The School of Dentistry ended in 1928, and Pharmacy six years later. In 1914, Tulane established a College of Commerce, the first business school in the South. In 1925, Tulane established the independent Graduate School. Two years later, the university set up a School of Social Work, also the first in the southern United States. Tulane was instrumental in promoting the arts in New Orleans and the South in establishing the Newcomb School of Art with William Woodward as director, thus establishing the renowned Newcomb pottery. The Middle American Research Institute was established in 1925 at Tulane "for the purpose of advanced research into the history (both Indian and colonial), archaeology, tropical botany (both economic and medical), the natural resources and products, of the countries facing New Orleans across the waters to the south; to gather, index and disseminate data thereupon; and to aid in the upbuilding of the best commercial and friendly relations between these Trans-Caribbean peoples and the United States." University College was established in 1942 as Tulane's division of continuing education. By 1950, the School of Architecture had grown out of Engineering into an independent school. In 1958, the university was elected to the Association of American Universities, an organization consisting of sixty-two of the leading research universities in North America.
Tulane's purpose is to create, communicate and conserve knowledge in order to enrich the capacity of individuals, organizations and communities to think, to learn and to act and lead with integrity and wisdom. Tulane pursues this mission by cultivating an environment that focuses on learning and the generation of new knowledge; by expecting and rewarding teaching and research of extraordinarily high quality and impact; and by fostering community-building initiatives as well as scientific, cultural and social understanding that integrate with and strengthen learning and research. This mission is pursued in the context of the unique qualities of our location in New Orleans and our continual aspiration to be a truly distinctive international university.
Tulane is home to many alumni who have contributed to both the arts and sciences and to the political and business realms. For example, from literature: Shirley Ann Grau, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner, and Andrew Breitbart, conservative journalist; from business: David Filo, co-founder of Yahoo!, and Neil Bush, economist and brother of President George W. Bush; from entertainment: Lauren Hutton, film actor and supermodel, and Paul Michael Glaser, TV actor of "Starsky and Hutch"; from music: conductor and composer Odaline de la Martinez, who was the first woman to conduct at a BBC Proms concert in London; from government: Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House who famously coordinated the first Congressional Republican majority in 40 years, and Luther Terry, former U.S. Surgeon General who issued the first official health hazard warning for tobacco; from medicine: Michael DeBakey, inventor of the roller pump, and Dr. Regina Benjamin, President Obama's Surgeon General; from science A. Baldwin Wood, inventor of the wood screw pump and Lisa P. Jackson, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator under President Obama; from sports.