Tulane's history dates back to 1834, when the Medical College of Louisiana was founded to serve the rapidly expanding city of New Orleans.
Tulane became a private university in 1884 when the public University of Louisiana was reorganized and named in honor of benefactor Paul Tulane, a wealthy merchant who bequeathed more than $1 million to endow a university "for the promotion and encouragement of intellectual, moral and industrial education." A native of Princeton, New Jersey, Paul Tulane had made his fortune in New Orleans and his gift expressed his appreciation to this Southern city on the Mississippi River.
In 1886, the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College for Women was established as part of Tulane. The university moved to its present campus on St. Charles Avenue in 1894, but medical school classes were held on the Uptown and Downtown campuses until the 1960s. The Tulane University Health Sciences Center in downtown New Orleans now includes the School of Medicine, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and School of Social Work, while the Tulane National Primate Research Center is in Covington, Louisiana.
Research in many disciplines has flourished at Tulane through the establishment of centers such as the Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the Middle American Research Institute, the Tulane Brain Institute, the Murphy Institute, the Tulane Cancer Center, the Tulane Center for Stem Cell Research & Regenerative Medicine, and the Newcomb Institute.
In the fall of 2005, following one of the nation's worst natural disasters, Hurricane Katrina, Tulane was confronted with unprecedented challenges and - if those challenges could be mastered - tremendous opportunities. The administration and the Board of Tulane University faced redefining and renewing the university for the future. Scott Cowen, Tulane University President from 1998 to 2014, called the resulting plan "the most significant reinvention of a university in the United States in over a century." In 2006, Tulane's Center for Public Service was founded in order to facilitate every single Tulane student's meaningful engagement within the greater New Orleans community.
The university is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, a select group of the 65 leading research universities in the United States and Canada offering "pre-eminent programs of graduate and professional education and scholarly research." Tulane is ranked by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a university with "very high research activity." Of more than 3,900 higher educational institutions rated by the foundation, Tulane remains in a prestigious category that includes only 2 percent of universities nationwide.