Under the Oaks Award Ceremony


 2024 Under the Oaks will be May 16, 2024

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, student leaders, interns, 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, presentation of a second diploma to each member of the Newcomb College Fifty-Year Class, distribution of class pins, and mortarboard decals.  


Uptown Campus

Dixon Auditorium (Need a map? Click the button.)


About Under the Oaks

When is “Under the Oaks”?

Under the Oaks will be held this year in person on May 16, 2024. 

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 2024, December 2023, or August 2023,and their families/guests are invited. In addition, faculty who are Newcomb Fellows and members of the Newcomb Alumnae Association are invited. Tickets are not required, so that anyone can attend.  

Should I or my parents/guardian RSVP?

No need to RSVP!  For questions, email newcomb@tulane.edu.

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 18. 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?

No, you are not required to wear regalia to Under the Oaks.

Who will walk across the stage at Under the Oaks?

Newcomb Scholars, Newcomb award recipients, and members of Oak Wreath will walk across the stage individually. Mortar Board and Newcomb Grant Recipients will be recognized as a group from where they are seated.  Other members of the Class of 2024 (or ‘23) 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, student leaders, and Oak Wreath members. Tell any usher which group you are with, and they 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, student leaders, and Mortar Board members all will be recognized at Under the Oaks, right?

That’s right! But in different ways:

Newcomb Scholars will 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. Each student will remain on the stage until the entire group has been called to the stage. Scholars will then be congratulated as a group, then exit the stage and return to their seats.  

Newcomb Award recipients 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 the 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, Dr. Anita Raj, and you will receive a certificate. You will then exit via the other side of the stage and return to your seat.

Oak Wreath members will be seated as a group. Any usher can direct you to your seating section. You will walk across the stage as your name is called alphabetically. You will shake hands with Newcomb Institute Executive Director, Dr. Anita Raj, 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 and student leaders will be seated as a group. Any usher can direct you to your seating section. Grant recipients do not receive certificates.

Mortar Board members who are not also members of any of the above groups 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. 

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 (note: this is not the order in which these groups will be recognized):

  • Newcomb Scholars
  • Newcomb Award Recipients
  • Oak Wreath
  • Newcomb Grant Recipients
  • Student Leaders

Each Newcomb Award Recipient will walk across the stage to receive their certificate.

Each Newcomb Scholar will walk across the stage and wait to be recognized as a group.

(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 stand to be recognized during the ceremony.

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 will be available outside of Dixon Auditorium, and at the reception immediately following Under the Oaks. You should wear both at the Tulane commencement ceremony.

Awards and Applications

Award nominations for the 2024 Under the Oaks ceremony will be accepted in March 2024. You can access the centralized nomination form here and read the descriptions of each award below.

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 Newcomb-sponsored student organization that has demonstrated involvement and leadership in the community, created meaningful and impactful programming, and furthered Newcomb Institute's mission. 

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 feminist leadership and engagement. 

Shelley Coverman Memorial Award
The Shelley Coverman Memorial Award honors an undergraduate or a 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 feminist leadership and gender equity.

Oak Wreath
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. 



For more information, contact:

Brennan Major 
Event Coordinator cmajor2@tulane.edu

two stand next to each other in graduation regalia