Message from Executive Director Sally J. Kenney


By Sally J. Kenney


Dear Friends,

As I write, we are preparing for Hurricane Zeta and hoping New Orleans gets lucky again. We are holding our breath for the election results, operating during a pandemic, and seeking to join widespread activism against white supremacy and racial violence.

I join judicial scholars and the wider public in mourning the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We hope a new Secretary of Education will withdraw the guidelines Betsy Devos insisted take effect in August that impede our efforts to reduce sexual assault on campus.

When so many have lost so much, it seems wrong to express our disappointment that just as we moved into our fabulous new space designed to bring us all together, it is no longer safe to gather and we are mostly working at home. The silver lining of virtual events is that our speakers are now more accessible to alumnae. Highlights of the fall include Ijeoma Oluo talking about race, our 2020 Arons poet Layli Long Soldier, and our upcoming Zale-Kimmerling writers, Lauren Groff (rescheduled from spring) and Valeria Luiselli (2021). We should note that last year’s writer, Newcomb alumna N.K. Jemisin (NC 94), recently won a MacArthur Genius Grant.

Newcomb Institute faculty not only answered the call to teach special COVID intercession and summer courses, but Newcomb’s Dr. Jacquelyne Thoni Howard and Dr. Clare Daniel have led the way in promoting online feminist pedagogy. We have revolutionized our teaching for hybrid classes and accelerated our use of new technologies. 

We have worked diligently to fund and help students pursue virtual internships. The Newcomb Alumnae Association and the Director’s Advisory Council have embraced virtual meetings and our work continues stronger than ever.

Much as we are proud that Tulane has been able to safely bring students back for face-to-face teaching, it is sad to see the quads covered with tents for temporary classrooms and dining, see students sitting six feet apart in Diboll Gallery rather than enjoying lunch together for Fridays at Newcomb, having the campus closed to visitors, trying to smile and communicate behind masks, and having the activities of our student groups so drastically reduced. Study abroad, facetoface teaching at the women’s prison, inperson internships, and symposia and programs are all on hold, like so many things no doubt in all of your lives.

Yet we count ourselves among the lucky and are doing everything we can to provide our students with the best possible experience. We hope that you are healthy and continue to stay safe.


Sally J. Kenney
Executive Director, Newcomb Institute
Newcomb College Endowed Chair
Professor of Political Science