Princeton partners with Brown to aid Dillard, welcomes visiting students as part of relief efforts

Campus community members commit to helping Hurricane Katrina victims

Princeton and Brown universities are partnering to help Dillard University restore operations after the New Orleans institution was devastated by flooding from Hurricane Katrina.

The universities will designate personnel from their campuses to aid Dillard in vital areas such as physical planning, facilities, libraries, academic offerings, campus life, human resources, computing and development. In addition to covering the costs of their employees involved in the project, Brown and Princeton may donate equipment, academic resources, supplemental consulting and other necessary materials and services.

The project initially will focus on near-term actions that will be necessary to help the Dillard campus re-open but it also will assist Dillard officials in long-term planning, as it may take years for the university's infrastructure and operations to be fully restored. The historically black university normally enrolls nearly 2,000 students.

"President Ruth Simmons of Brown is a graduate of Dillard, and she has been in touch with Dillard's president, Marvalene Hughes, to convey our offer to help," said Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman. "As we go forward, we will work closely with President Hughes and her colleagues to identify the areas in which we can be most helpful. In carrying out this project, we will depend on the talents and dedication of employees across all departments of the University, and will look to students and alumni to assist as well. To be successful, this will have to be a broadly collaborative effort over an extended period of time. We are delighted to have this opportunity to help restore this important and historic institution."

Director of Public Affairs Karen Jezierny has been asked to coordinate Princeton's participation in this project, working closely with senior officials at Dillard and at Brown.

Other Princeton responses

The initiative to assist Dillard comes amid expanding efforts by Princeton community members to aid relief organizations working in the Gulf Coast region and to help those in the University's family and others affected by the disaster.

Princeton's 71 students from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are back on campus and University officials are working to provide assistance, such as increased financial aid and funds for travel or supplies, to those in need. To assist faculty and staff members with loved ones in those areas, the University has provided some financial assistance and has contracted with Carebridge Corp. to help locate friends and/or family and to offer counseling services to employees affected by the disaster. Princeton has suspended loan collections from alumni and parents in the affected areas.

The University also has temporarily enrolled 24 visiting undergraduates and five visiting graduate students who have been displaced from their own colleges and universities. Rooms are available because the University is preparing to increase the size of its student body during the next few years. Tuition has been waived for the visiting students.

Princeton received more than 200 inquiries following the Sept. 2 announcement that it would accept a limited number of visiting students. University officials set up a hotline to handle the requests, with many administrators, including President Tilghman, taking calls during weekend and evening hours from students who wanted to apply.

In addition to accepting visiting students, the University has received several applications from faculty members at colleges and universities that have been shuttered by the hurricane for special programs that will provide funds, offices and housing at Princeton.

Offices have been set aside in Dillon Court to house four visiting fellows, who would receive travel expenses and a supplement to pay for University housing, and six visiting research scholars, who would receive a salary, travel expenses and University housing. The visiting appointments are for the fall semester but could be renewed for the spring if the scholars' home institutions are unable to resume operation in January. Academic departments are encouraged to nominate scholars to the Office of the Dean of the Faculty for consideration.

Upon returning to campus, Princeton's students swiftly organized fund-raising initiatives. The Coordinated Undergraduate Fund for Hurricane Katrina Relief will provide donations to relief organizations such as the American Red Cross and to school districts in the affected areas. The organizers hope to raise $24,000 for the fund through charity events and collection tables that have been set up in the Frist Campus Center and the residential colleges.

Two fund-raising events are set for this week. Current and former members of the University Orchestra will perform a benefit concert at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall. Several dance, a cappella and other performing arts groups will be featured at a fund-raiser scheduled for at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at Quadrangle Club.

Other fund-raising performances and events are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. In addition, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students will coordinate fall break trips to the Gulf Coast area, working with various campus organizations.

Five Princeton employees have volunteered through the American Red Cross under the University's Humanitarian Relief Effort Policy, which allows employees to request up to two weeks of paid leave to participate in relief efforts in the affected areas.

More than 220 Princeton alumni have joined a TigerNet discussion group established to help those who are trying to relocate, find new employment, raise money, find loved ones or obtain other assistance.