Message from NAA President Lisa Rice

 

By Lisa D. T. Rice
(NC ’83, Parent ’15)

To the best alumnae in the world, I am thrilled to be able to greet you in the new, 100 percent digital format of NEWCOMB.

What a year this has been for all of us! In fall 2019, when the Newcomb Alumnae Association annual meeting and luncheon were hosted in the new Commons building for the first time, none of us could have imagined how significantly things near and far would change in short order.

At the end of 2019, as SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, began making its way through every continent and to the U.S., alumnae around the world were impacted. Newcomb is well represented by outstanding alumnae experts in emergency preparedness and public health.

Former NAA board member, Dr. Sofia Curdumi Pendley (NC ’05, PHTM *09, PHTM *18), was quoted in Business Insider regarding the origins of the COVID-19 virus and others like it and why we haven’t eradicated them. Former NAA President, Dr. Meredith Beers (NC ’07, PHTM *11, PHTM *16), in Tulane University’s office of emergency preparedness, had a leadership role in guiding rapid changes enacted as the uptown campus was evacuated and the university quickly pivoted to online learning last spring. These are just two of the outstanding alumnae working at the forefront of the pandemic.

I’m not only in touch with Sofia, Meredith and the NAA board, though. I regularly speak with alumnae from the class of 2020 to the 1940s (and every decade in between). Without exception, you’ve told me you want the Newcomb Institute to be at the forefront of women’s education and empowerment and live up to its feminist education mission.

I’ve heard the concern, from a 2016 graduate, that the Institute isn’t keeping up with the intersectionality of today’s alumnae; that it still feels singularly White. You are concerned that in today’s fourth-wave feminism, centered on intersectionality, the Institute feels very second-wave. I hear you. As a 1944 graduate said to me, unprompted, “Newcomb prepared me, a White woman, for the world.” This alumna wants “that to be true for today’s students and today’s times.” Her desire is that Newcomb step up and offer what all women need to be successful in the future.

There is much to be done. The NAA is on a path of continuous improvement in service to all alumnae. If you haven’t heard it already, please listen to my welcome to 2020’s graduates. The NAA board respects, and strives to reflect, your identities; your life experiences; and your professional and personal goals. We pursue this by enhancing the board’s diversity; financing student programming which addresses structural biases (e.g., NAA’s PLEN Scholar and other experiential learning); and gathering feedback from, and supporting, an ever more representative swath of alumnae. We are doing the work. Daily.

And while we are not a fundraising board, our alumnae secured the University’s Give Green victory this year, with 209 alumnae donations, winning the Carol Lavin Bernick (NC ‘74) $5,000 Big Green Prize. Thank you to everyone who participated. I appreciate your collegiality and love of everything Newcomb.

As in every facet of our lives, the NAA has gone virtual. Not only was the 2020 annual meeting digital, Under the Oaks in the spring was online. This fall, book clubs (which will include The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom) in multiple cities and regions will be hosted via Zoom. We’ll catch up with you, wherever you may be. Thank you to those who participated in our online Newcomb alumnae survey; results are driving the NAA’s current strategic planning process.

If you have ideas you’d like to share about how the NAA can best serve you, please let us know. Share your thoughts via email: newcombalumnae@tulane.edu or call 800-504-5565. If you’d like to contact me personally, please do: lisaricenaa@gmail.com.

Be well and stay safe,

Lisa D. T. Rice (NC ’83, Parent ’15)