Tulane Home Tulane Home

Webbs extend family legacy with excellence fund

May 26, 2017 12:26 PM
ing up, siblings Ann and George Webb knew Tulane University from the inside out. Their father, also named George, taught electrical engineering for 37 years. Their mother, Dorothy Webb (L ’80), started Tulane Law when Ann was in high school and George III in middle school, one of several women in her class embarking on second careers.

George Webb remembers accompanying his mother to an energy law class one summer, playing racquetball with a woman in her study group and thinking it cool that his mother was taking a course with Professor Bob Force, father of his classmate Joshua Force.

Ann Webb recalls how stressed her mother seemed. “She took a huge leap outside her comfort zone. But she also just blossomed in law school,” Ann Webb said. “She just loved it.”

Both Webbs, who live and work in Houston, followed their mother through Tulane Law. In honor of their parents, they recently established the George and Dorothy Webb Endowment for Legal Excellence to support the kind of education they received.

“Tulane was a big part of our lives growing up,” said Ann Webb (L ’87), who currently is working on a doctorate in social work and is focused on bringing law and social work together to help disenfranchised populations. 

George Webb (L ’94), who also has engineering degrees from Rice University, joined Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering earlier this year in an in-house counsel role centered on technology transfer, corporate-sponsored research and related areas.

“The Tulane campus was always my front yard,” he said.

The family regularly attended football games at the old Tulane Stadium, had crawfish boils in their backyard and forged close and lasting bonds with the university. George Webb called the gift to the law school a fitting way to honor their parents.

“We were hoping that we could reflect the importance of the law school to our family as well as the importance of my dad to the students he taught for so many decades,” Ann Webb said.

The elder George Webb was a World War II veteran of the U.S. Army who later served as a reservist in the Corps of Engineers. He started teaching at Tulane in 1956, and the Tulane Alumni Association named him an honorary member in 1981.

The Webbs’ Tulane legacy goes even farther back. After Dorothy Webb (then Maness) graduated from Tulane’s Newcomb College in 1951, she and her both mother received degrees in 1953, Dorothy a master’s in Spanish and Mary Ida Little Maness a bachelor of arts. Dorothy Webb taught Spanish along with English as a Second Language for many years, and after law school she worked as a public defender in Jefferson Parish and handled cases through a small private practice.

Ann Webb said she hadn’t intended to follow her mother to law school but decided to apply after working as a paralegal. “I was just amazed at how much I loved it,” she said. “It definitely was transformative in so many ways for me.”

Ann Webb served on the Moot Court board and the Tulane Law Review and later spent over two decades practicing admiralty law and commercial litigation in Houston before returning to school to obtain a master’s degree in social work. Her doctoral dissertation work interweaves her legal and social work backgrounds, bringing together multidisciplinary teams of students to assist women and children in detention facilities with asylum applications. The teams already have helped several women win release from detention while they pursue their asylum claims, she said.

“When you bring social workers and lawyers together, you can combine their skill sets and end up with much better results,” she said.

George Webb, who was Tulane Moot Court chief justice while in school, has worked as a litigator and intellectual property attorney before joining Rice. In January, he helped teach in the civil litigation track of Tulane Law’s Intersession skills-training boot camp.

He said that he, his mother and sister were able to attend law school tuition-free while his father was a professor because of Tulane faculty benefits at the time.

“It made sense for us to help someone else get that great education,” he said.

“I’m grateful to Ann and George for celebrating their family’s rich Tulane legacy with this generous gift,” Dean David Meyer said. “The George and Dorothy Webb Endowment for Legal Excellence will help ensure that future students and families find the same opportunities they’ve found through a Tulane Law education.”