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One Year After Katrina, Higher Education Continues to Lead Aid Efforts

(PRWEB) September 3, 2006 -- In the wake of the hurricanes that devastated the Gulf Coast in the fall of 2005, higher education
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 responded not only quickly but on a grand scale. Colleges and universities across the country raised millions of dollars in relief aid and opened their doors to tens of thousands of displaced college students and residents from storm-ravaged areas.

 “  Because of this commitment, they already had structures and programs in place to be able to step in with both immediate and long-term assistance when the hurricanes struc...  
One year later, these efforts are still going strong. Campus Compact, a national higher education
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 association that is dedicated to helping campuses build service into student and academic life, has found that colleges around the country continue to pour resources and expertise into the Gulf Coast region to help rebuild.

"Campus Compact's 1,000 member colleges and universities have played a major role in helping those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita rebuild their communities and their lives," notes Campus Compact Executive Director Elizabeth Hollander. "Our members are committed to serving their communities and helping students develop into socially responsible leaders. Because of this commitment, they already had structures and programs in place to be able to step in with both immediate and long-term assistance when the hurricanes struck."

Financial aid was quick to flow. Within days of the first storm, dozens of campuses had already responded, including the University of Florida, which donated $125,000; North Carolina State University, which raised $56,000; and Rockford College (IL), which set up a special relief fund with proceeds from football ticket sales. Hundreds of ongoing efforts provide continuing relief. Twenty North Carolina Campus Compact member schools have raised $355,000 collectively, and Brown University has created a $5 million hurricane relief fund through the generosity of a committed alumnus.

In the immediate aftermath of the hurricanes, campuses sent thousands of volunteers to the Gulf region to lend medical, engineering, and administrative aid. In addition to working on levees, rebuilding infrastructure, and providing emergency supplies and medical care, they managed often-overlooked needs: for example, University of Miami ophthalmologists gave thousands of patients free eye medication, glasses, and contact lenses, and a team from Cornell University's veterinary school
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 cared for stranded pets and farm animals.

Fears that commitment to relief efforts could not be sustained evaporated when tens of thousands of students from campuses nationwide spent their spring breaks volunteering in the Gulf region. In one such effort, the University of Louisiana System and Louisiana Campus Compact teamed with Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross to train and deploy hundreds of student volunteers. Campus Compact offices in Florida, Maine, and other states helped coordinate similar efforts.

College and university leaders are also helping to guide long-term reconstruction efforts. For example, as part of the Mayors' Institute on City Design resource team, faculty from Columbia University (NY), Mississippi State University, Tulane University (LA), and the University of Virginia are helping local mayors set priorities and strategies for rebuilding their communities. Tulane president Scott Cowen has been appointed chair of the committee charged with rebuilding the New Orleans public school system.

Research and planning for disaster response is another priority. This issue was the subject of a national symposium in June 2006 sponsored by Tougaloo College (MS), Campus Compact, the Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, the United Negro College Fund, and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Faculty Development Network. These and similar efforts are aimed at improving disaster preparedness across the country.

Campus Compact is proud of its member campuses and their commitment to community engagement. The response of our members to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is an ideal example of Campus Compact's mission at work. More information on higher education's response to the hurricanes, broken out by state, is available at http://www.compact.org/katrina

Campus Compact is a national coalition of 1,000 college and university presidents -- representing some 5 million students -- who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. As the only national association dedicated to this mission, Campus Compact is a leader in building civic engagement into campus and academic life. For more information, visit http://www.compact.org

Campus Compact is an independent, nonprofit association under the umbrella of Brown University.


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