Under the Oaks is a ceremony hosted each year by Newcomb Institute during Commencement week. At Under the Oaks, we honor graduating students, including award recipients (named awards and Oak Wreath), Newcomb Scholars, Mortar Board members, Newcomb grant recipients, Center for Public Service award recipients, Newcomb Alumnae Association award recipients, and outstanding faculty, in addition to hosting the current Newcomb College 50 year reunion.
Many cherished traditions from the Newcomb College commencement ceremonies are celebrated at Under the Oaks, including the Daisy Chain, presentation of a second diploma to each member of the Newcomb College Fifty-Year Class, wearing of the brown robes, distribution of class pins and mortarboard decals, and singing of the Newcomb College Alma Mater.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, we honored our awards recipients in a virtual celebration.
1914-2004 Award for Exceptional Character
This award honors a liberal arts or science major who has displayed exceptional character through firm ideals, a clear sense of integrity, and a strong commitment to service and justice on campus and/or in the New Orleans community.
Class of 2005 Jennie C. Nixon Award
The Jennie C. Nixon Award was originally established by the Newcomb Alumnae Association in 1912 as the Jennie C. Nixon Prize for Debate. The Class of 2005 raised additional money to continue the award. Today, it is given to a sophomore who has contributed to the Tulane community through a leadership role, has demonstrated academic excellence, and has demonstrated a spirit of service to the university.
Class of 1909 Prize to the Outstanding Senior
This award is given to up to two graduating seniors who, throughout their time at Tulane, have combined scholarship with effective and unselfish service in student activities.
Cynthia B. Taffaro Memorial Award
This award is given to the student organization that has demonstrated involvement and leadership in the community, created meaningful and impactful programming, and has furthered the mission of Newcomb Institute.
Doris K. Joffrion Award
Doris K. Joffrion graduated from Newcomb College in 1917. The award established in her memory honors the best female athlete of the year who has majored in one of the liberal arts or sciences.
Gifford Darling Riess Award
Gifford Darling Riess pursued a career in criminal justice, with a specific interest in issues impacting women. The award given in her honor recognizes a graduating senior who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to community service during their time at Tulane.
Newcomb Institute Resident Advisor Award
This award recognizes a Resident Advisor who supports Newcomb programming and developing a community that fosters women’s growth.
Shelley Coverman Memorial Award
The Shelley Coverman Memorial Award honors an undergraduate or graduate student who distinguishes themselves in empirical social science research in women’s studies. This award requires a nomination from a faculty member.
Dorothy Young Memorial Award
This award honors a junior student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, scholarship, and service during their time at Tulane.
Shirley Gauff Award
The Shirley Gauff Award is bestowed upon a first-year student from an under-represented group at Tulane University. The student will have distinguished themselves through an outstanding academic record during their high school career and will exemplify the ideals of the Newcomb Institute through service to Tulane University and the Greater New Orleans community.
Examples of under-represented groups include but are not limited to members of ethnic minority groups, LGBTQ students, differently-abled students, and members of religious minority groups.
Sylvia Dreyfus Memorial Award
Sylvia Dreyfus was a former student body president of Newcomb College. This award is given to a member of the senior class who has supported women’s concerns on campus through outstanding leadership, active committee membership, and creative innovation of programs or elective office.
Under the Oaks Award
This award honors a graduating senior who embodies the values of Newcomb Institute and has spent a significant portion of their collegiate career working for the advancement of women.
The Oak Wreath is bestowed upon graduating seniors who have distinguished themselves through an engaged pursuit of learning, leadership in student activities, commitment to the mission of Newcomb Institute, and contribution to the Newcomb/Tulane community. Oak Wreath recipients and a faculty member of their choosing will be honored at a dinner on May 12 and at Under the Oaks on May 15.
When is “Under the Oaks”?
Due to the pandemic, Under the Oaks was held virtually this year - view the 2020 awards ceremony.
Who can attend Under the Oaks?
All students graduating from Newcomb-Tulane College (Schools of Architecture, Business, Liberal Arts, Public Health, Science and Engineering) in May 2020, December 2019, or August 2019 and their families/guests are invited. Faculty who are Newcomb Fellows and members of the Newcomb Alumnae Association are invited, as are families of the NAA award recipients. Tickets are not required, so anyone can attend.
Should I or my parents/guardian RSVP?
No need to RSVP! For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will I receive my diploma at Under the Oaks?
No. With the exception of Doctor of Medicine students, all graduates will receive their diplomas via FedEx delivery three to four weeks after commencement on May 20. Please click here for information on the unified ceremony and the various diploma ceremonies.
Should I wear my regalia (graduation robe and cap) to Under the Oaks?
Members of the Class of 2020 who are Newcomb Scholars, Newcomb award recipients, Newcomb grant recipients, or members of Oak Wreath are asked to wear regalia. All others may wear regalia if they wish.
Who will walk across the stage at Under the Oaks?
Newcomb Scholars, Newcomb award recipients, Newcomb grant recipients, and members of Oak Wreath will walk across the stage individually. Mortar Board members will not wear regalia and will be recognized as a group from where they are seated. Other members of the Class of 2020 can be seated with their guests and will not walk across the stage.
When should my guests and I arrive at Dixon Hall?
Doors will open at 1:15 and the ceremony will begin at 2:00. Seats will be reserved for award recipients, grant recipients, and Oak Wreath members. Tell any usher which group you are with, and she will direct you. Please note: We will close the doors at 1:55 to allow our processional to assemble and enter at 2:00. Once the processional has entered, we will re-open the doors for late-comers IF seats are still available.
How will I know if I am an award recipient? What do I need to do?
You will be notified by email (to your Tulane email account) and you must RSVP as directed so that you will be called to the stage to receive your award.
Newcomb Scholars, Newcomb Award recipients, Oak Wreath members, Newcomb grant recipients, and Mortar Board members all will be recognized at Under the Oaks, right?
That’s right! But in different ways:
Newcomb Scholars will wear regalia and be seated as a group. Scholars will be escorted to the stage steps as a group and will walk onto the stage individually (alphabetically) as each name is called while a slide listing your accomplishments is displayed. Each will receive a Newcomb Scholars stole and then step aside but remain on the stage until the entire group has received stoles. Scholars will then be congratulated as a group then exit the stage and return to their seats.
Newcomb Award recipients will wear regalia and will be seated as a group. Any usher can direct you to your seating section. Award recipients will be escorted to the stage steps as a group by a Newcomb staff member. Check the program for which award you are receiving and be ready to walk onto the stage when your name is called. You will shake hands with Newcomb Institute Executive Director Sally Kenney, you will receive a certificate, exit the other side of the stage and return to your seat.
Oak Wreath members will wear regalia and will be seated as a group. Any usher can direct you to your seating section. You will be escorted to the stage as a group by a Newcomb staff member. You will walk across the stage as your name is called alphabetically and while a slide listing your name and your accomplishments is displayed. You will shake hands with Newcomb Institute Executive Director Sally Kenney, exit the other side of the stage and return to your seat. You will have already received your certificate at the Oak Wreath dinner.
Grant recipients will wear regalia and will be seated as a group. Any usher can direct you to your seating section. You will be escorted to the stage as a group by a Newcomb staff member. You will walk across the stage individually as your name is called alphabetically and while a slide describing your funded project is displayed. You will shake hands with Newcomb Institute Executive Director Sally Kenney, exit the other side of the stage and return to your seat. Grant recipients do not receive certificates.
Mortar Board members who are not also members of any of the above groups do not have to wear regalia and can be seated with their families/guests. Mortar Board members will be listed in the program and will be asked to stand and be recognized as a group following the presentation of the teaching awards by the Mortar Board president.
Center for Public Service award recipients who are not also members of any of the above groups do not have to wear regalia and can be seated with their families/guests. CPS award recipients will be listed in the program.
I am a member of more than one of the groups that will be recognized individually. With which group will I be recognized and seated?
If you are a member of two or more of these groups, please be seated with the group that is highest on this list: (This is not the order in which these groups will be recognized)
Each Newcomb Award Recipient will walk across the stage to receive their certificate.
Each Newcomb Scholar will walk across the stage to receive their stole.
(So, if you are a Scholar who is receiving an award, you walk across twice)
Each Oak Wreath member who is not a Scholar or not receiving an award will walk across the stage as an Oak Wreath member.
Each grant recipient who is not a Scholar, not receiving an award and not a member of Oak Wreath will walk across the stage as a grant recipient.
To minimize the number of times each grad walks across the stage, we will announce your other affiliations/achievements as you walk across. So, if you are a Scholar who received a grant, you will be seated with the Scholars and the “announcer” will say something like “Susie also received a research grant.”
When your name is called and you walk onto the stage, you don’t need to hurry! The steps are steep. A photographer will be at the “down” steps, and sometimes there’s a logjam! This is your moment, take your time!
Is there wheelchair access to Dixon Hall?
Yes, there is a wheelchair ramp at the front entrance to Dixon Hall, but wheelchairs are not available for rental. Ushers can direct guests in wheelchairs to a reserved seating area.
Where can I get a class pin and decal for my mortarboard? Can I wear those at the Tulane unified commencement ceremonies?
Class pins and Newcomb mortar board decals (the blue N) will be available following Under the Oaks at the reception at the Lavin-Bernick Center. You should wear both at the Tulane commencement ceremony.
Will I be able to attend the Newcomb-Tulane award ceremony in McAlister?
Yes. Our reception will end by their 4:30 p.m. start time.
What is the Daisy Chain?
The Daisy Chain has been a tradition in Newcomb College commencement ceremonies since the early days of Newcomb College. It consists of over 1,000 daisies assembled by members of the junior class. Earlier chains were made from clover, oleander, magnolia or daisies and were collected from campus gardens and neighbors’ yards. Although daisy chains were once a frequent sight on women’s college campuses, Newcomb has one of the few remaining chains in the country. Newcomb Institute is proud to continue this important tradition of Newcomb College at our Under the Oaks Ceremony.
For more information, contact: