Philanthropist Gayle Benson joins Tulane Board

Brandi Doyal

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President Scott Cowen

announced the appointment of Gayle Benson, a philanthropist, former interior designer and wife of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, to the Board of Tulane on April 8.

Benson has served on several boards including the Ochsner

Health Foundation Board. Cowen

said she will be a great addition to the Board of Tulane.

“Gayle is one of New Orleans’ most beloved figures,” Cowen

said. “Her wisdom, devotion to the community and steady leadership will be indispensable as Tulane welcomes a new president and continues its journey of enhanced impact, quality and distinction.”

Benson started her own interior design and real estate business, which she owned in New Orleans for more than 30 years. Benson has worked on many projects within the New Orleans area, such as designing New Orleans hotels and renovating and renting historic properties. Benson said she believes her experience as a business owner will allow her to bring a valuable viewpoint to the Board.

“When I was in the design business, I started my own company,” Benson said. “So I was accustomed to doing everything myself. I had a lot of people working for me, but everything came back to me… I think that any board that you get on is like a business and is run like a business.”

Benson closed her business after she married her husband and began focusing on philanthropy. Benson said one of her main projects is her foundation, The Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation. Benson is involved in the New Orleans Catholic community and works with many local Catholic charities. She received the Elizabeth Seaton

award for her service within the Catholic community.

The Benson family also donated to support the construction of Tulane’s Yulman Stadium, which will open in the fall. The stadium’s field will be named after the Bensons.

Benson continues to work on several projects outside of her philanthropic efforts. She still works as a designer and helped renovate the third and fourth floors of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome


Benson said she was surprised by the appointment, but is excited to serve on the board.

“I really didn’t expect [being appointed] and it’s an honor and humbles me at the same time,” Benson said. “I am really looking forward to it and I believe it is going to be a great experience.”

Benson said she hopes she can help influence students and bring her experiences to the Board during her time at Tulane. 

“Tulane is such an important institution in the city, and I think it is important that we keep it where it needs to be and continue to lift it up,” Benson said. “I hope that I can impact some of the people [at Tulane] just by being on the board and bringing what I can offer to the table, my experiences and some of the things that I have done.”