U. to accept roughly 100 students displaced by Katrina for fall semester

By
Tuesday, September 6, 2005

The University will assist students displaced from colleges and universities shuttered by Hurricane Katrina by offering tuition-free admission for a semester, President Ruth Simmons announced in a campus-wide e-mail Friday.

University officials declined to comment Friday on how many students could be accommodated, but Dean of Admission James Miller ’73 told The Herald Monday that the “working total” is approximately 100 undergraduates.

Response to the University’s offer has been steady over the weekend, Miller said, estimating that more than 50 displaced undergraduates have contacted the Admission Office.

Students in good academic standing at schools where the hurricane suspended classes for the fall semester are eligible to attend Brown this semester if they reside in Rhode Island, are the sibling of a Brown student or attend Xavier University of Louisiana, Dillard University or Tulane University.

Dillard is Simmons’ undergraduate alma mater.

Brown will accept students displaced by the hurricane on a space-available basis. Temporary students will select from courses with space open after permanent Brown students have registered, said Mark Nickel, director of the Brown News Service.

The fall semester has been canceled at Tulane and Loyola universities, and about 30 schools are severely damaged, leaving nearly 100,000 students scrambling to find space elsewhere, according to the Association of American Universities.

“The idea is to provide as much as we can for as many students as we can,” Nickel said.

The Rhode Island Independent Higher Education Association is coordinating assistance for Rhode Island residents. Eligible students should contact RIIHEA, Nickel said, and the organization will match them to the most appropriate participating school based on their academic needs.

RIIHEA members include Brown, the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence College, the New England Institute of Technology and Johnson and Wales, Bryant, Roger Williams and Salve Regina universities.

Independently of RIIHEA, the University is offering temporary admission to siblings of Brown students and students attending Xavier, Dillard or Tulane. The Admission Office will handle requests from these students.

Xavier and Dillard, both historically black universities, are in the Leadership Alliance, a 31-member consortium of academic institutions dedicated to increasing minority participation in higher education. Brown is a founding member of the organization.

Tulane is not in the consortium, but the assistance program was extended to its students because of its membership in the Association of American Universities, said Valerie Petit Wilson, associate dean of the Graduate School at Brown and director of the Leadership Alliance. The AAU comprises 62 top research universities in the United States and Canada.

Housing is not guaranteed as part of the temporary admission program, but Nickel said the University and RIIHEA will work with community members to find space for displaced students. A form on the Brown Web site allows area residents to offer spare bedrooms to temporary students.

The Graduate School will also assist students whose studies have been interrupted for the semester, Simmons said in her campus-wide e-mail.

A statement on the Graduate School’s Web site reads, “We encourage departments to think of this as a chance to ‘adopt’ students for the semester and integrate them as fully as possible into their programs, not merely provide them with classes or laboratory space.”

The Medical School is unable to make a general offer of assistance to displaced medical students because of capacity limitations, but the University is attempting to assist medical students from the hurricane-affected region on a case-by-case basis, said Associate Dean of Medical Education Philip Gruppuso.

Gruppuso said two recent Brown graduates who planned to start medical school this fall at Tulane contacted the University for assistance. Space was not available to accept them into the incoming Medical School class, but Kathleen Baer, director of admission and financial aid for the Medical School, tried to find space for the students at Dartmouth’s medical school, he added.

“We were confronted with a difficult logistical situation,” Gruppuso said.

The Medical School always strives to operate at capacity – leaving little extra space for last-minute additions – but Brown may have space in clinical rotations for third and fourth year medical students, he said.

Grupposo said Tulane anticipates finding space for all medical students at other institutions, relying heavily on temporarily relocating students to the University of Texas and Baylor University.

Faculty whose research has been interrupted because of the hurricane might also find a temporary home at Brown.

Vice President for Research Andries van Dam, who has been charged by Simmons to assist displaced professors by bringing them to Brown as visiting faculty, told the faculty in an e-mail that the visiting professors will likely receive their salaries from their home institution, but Brown would provide them with limited travel funds, office and research facilities on campus and library privileges.

Wilson called Brown’s response to Katrina “a wonderful gesture – more than a gesture,” adding that “a natural disaster should not be a career disaster.”

“It’s pretty extraordinary that the University is offering this kind of outreach for students in the area,” Miller said.