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University System of Georgia Responds to Hurricane Disaster

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Atlanta — September 1, 2005

A number of University System of Georgia (USG) institutions have quickly mobilized to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina, particularly Gulf Coast college students displaced by the disaster.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith has encouraged campus officials to be flexible and compassionate in addressing the emergency needs of the evacuees, particularly those students whose studies have been interrupted by forced campus closings throughout the hurricane zone. The response from USG campuses has been swift, addressing both the academic needs of students as well as humanitarian considerations for those forced to evacuee the flood-ravaged states.

“I want to encourage us to cut through any bureaucracy and be responsive to their pleas for help as quickly as possible,” Meredith informed the 34 USG presidents on Wednesday afternoon. “Let’s react the way we would want others to react to us if we had suffered this catastrophe.”

In addition to the statewide campus-level responses, at their regular monthly meeting slated for Sept. 6-7, the Board of Regents will move to waive any relevant policies regarding admission, tuition and fees.

Board of Regents Chair J. Timothy Shelnut said: “Our overriding position is that we will take actions driven by the need for a humanitarian response to this tragic national crisis. We will use every resource at our disposal to help address the needs of those so horrendously impacted by this hurricane.”

Academic assistance efforts from the USG colleges and universities at this point include:

  • Several USG institutions are waiving admissions requirements and deadlines, and many are establishing second and third sessions for their fall semesters in order to enroll displaced students. Many of these colleges and universities will give top priority to students who are Georgia residents. Atlanta Metropolitan College, in Atlanta, already has established a second session for this purpose, and Dalton State College, in Dalton, already has a second session and may establish a third session, if necessary. Some institutions also are deferring tuition and student fees for students affected by the hurricane;
  • Georgia State University, in Atlanta, will accept students who can show proof of enrollment at an accredited university or college in the New Orleans-area as transient students for the fall semester, and provide them with individualized special assistance with admissions, counseling and advisement; and
  • The Medical College of Georgia will admit students from institutions in the affected areas who are pursuing health-sciences related programs offered at the Augusta-based institution.

Humanitarian responses from USG campuses thus far include the following:

  • The Medical College of Georgia, the University of West Georgia and numerous other USG institutions are collecting donations of bottled water, towels, cleaning supplies, diapers, baby formula and other items for hurricane victims;
  • Six members of the Medical College of Georgia-sponsored Georgia 4 Disaster Medical Assistance Team have traveled to disaster sites to offer medical, psychological, administrative equipment, communications and safety support. They have set up a field hospital at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport for those who need more extensive care. Another 22 members of the team are awaiting orders and are ready to deploy upon word they are needed. MCG Health System also is preparing for any potential hurricane victims.
  • Early Wednesday, 275 students from the flooded campus of Tulane University, in Louisiana, arrived in Atlanta, where they were met by 50 students from Georgia Tech. Tech officials provided hot showers and meals and helped them make arrangements for emergency housing or transportation home if their homes were in areas not affected by the hurricane. Georgia Tech helped a total of 23 Tulane students find emergency housing in the Atlanta area; 25 students spent the night at Georgia Tech;
  • In response to a request by the American Red Cross, the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens stands ready to provide emergency housing for displaced families assigned by the Red Cross; and
  • The University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, and Columbus State University in Columbus also have offered to provide emergency housing for displaced students and/or faculty;

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has established a website with pertinent contact information for students attending college in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina who are interested in enrolling in a Georgia college or university this fall. The URL for the website is: http://www.usg.edu/katrina/

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