THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION ARTICLES


Tulane U. and Loyola New Orleans Close for the Semester; Other Gulf-Area Colleges Reopen This Week
9/7/05

Colleges Make a Range of Offers for Displaced Students Seeking Fall Enrollment
9/7/05

Southern Colleges and Sloan Foundation Join to Offer Free Online Courses to Displaced Students
9/7/05

Education Department Eases Rules for Colleges Accepting Students From Hurricane Region
9/7/05

 

 

 

 

 

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Tulane U. and Loyola New Orleans Close for the Semester; Other Gulf-Area Colleges Reopen This Week
By ANDREA L. FOSTER

As federal and state officials continued to recover bodies and clean up the wreckage from Hurricane Katrina, Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans announced that they would close for the fall and reopen for the spring semester. Several other colleges on or near the Gulf Coast announced they would reopen within the week.

Scott S. Cowen, president of Tulane, said in a statement released on Saturday that the university had suffered water and roof damage, broken windows, and downed trees. He said the campus could be repaired in a matter of weeks, but that his decision to close the school for the semester was based on the crisis in New Orleans.

" Tulane University relies on the infrastructure of the city to exist," said Mr. Cowen's statement, which was posted on the university's Web site. "And as we all know, that infrastructure has suffered major damage."

Mr. Cowen said that university officials were scrambling to rebuild Tulane's technology and communications systems and that the university was working to set up a call center to answer students' enrollment questions. He also said that students who receive a passing grade from fall-semester courses at a regionally accredited college could transfer those credits to Tulane.

Loyola New Orleans established temporary administrative offices in Alexandria , La. , and on Monday received permission from the University of Houston to set up another office there. Loyola is preparing to post a toll-free telephone number on its Web site where students, parents, faculty and staff members can obtain more information.

Loyola's 27 sister Jesuit institutions have agreed to accept Loyola students for the fall semester, according to the Web site.

Dillard University , in New Orleans , announced that classes would resume once people were allowed to return to New Orleans . Administrators are considering setting up new classrooms, Dillard's president, Marvalene Hughes, said in a message posted on the university's Web site on Friday. She said people were struggling to clean up the campus, where some buildings were flooded and roofs were damaged.

Alcorn State University , in Mississippi , and Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge are planning to open for classes today. The University of South Alabama , in Mobile , is asking students to report to the institution today.

Jackson State University , in Mississippi 's capital, and the University of Southern Mississippi , in Hattiesburg , plan to open for classes on Monday.

"If there is a silver lining, it is that we were only two days into the semester when the storm hit," said Joseph S. Paul, vice president for student affairs at Southern Mississippi , in a message on the university's Web site. "So the interruption in classes and the extension of late registration means our students will be on a unified academic path, versus being weeks behind."

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College , which has campuses in the area hardest hit by the storm, is also scheduled to open for classes on Monday.

"Obviously there will be changes in class schedules and locations and perhaps even in instructional assignments," read a message from Willis H. Lott, the system's president, on the college's Web site. "We make these plans with the full realization that as conditions change in our coastal area we may be forced to make adjustments in our plans."

It is unclear when the University of New Orleans , which was closed over the weekend, will reopen. The chancellor, Timothy P. Ryan, announced on the university's Web site that online classes would begin next month.

"Aerial views indicate that approximately two-thirds of our lakefront campus remained above water, and we hope to have a more accurate estimate of our damages within the next couple of weeks," he said.

Grantham University , in Slidell , La. , just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans , was also closed, according to message on its Web site. The site did not say when the campus would reopen.

Classes will resume Wednesday at Faulkner State Community College , in Bay Minette, Ala. , according to the university's Web site .

William Carey College has canceled classes at its three campuses -- in Gulfport and Hattiesburg , Miss. , and New Orleans -- and it is unclear when they will resume.


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Colleges Make a Range of Offers for Displaced Students Seeking Fall Enrollment
By LAWRENCE BIEMILLER

 

Colleges and universities across the United States are offering admission for the fall semester to undergraduates and graduate students whose hurricane-battered campuses will remain closed for months. And a handful of institutions -- including Cornell University , Vermont 's Green Mountain College , and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History -- say they will offer temporary positions to faculty members from the affected colleges.

At the very least, the offers for undergraduates include waivers of late fees, help with financial-aid arrangements, and extra instructional support. Several states -- including Texas , to which many Louisiana residents fled -- say they will allow out-of-state students displaced by the hurricane to enroll at in-state rates. Law schools and other graduate programs are extending offers as well.

Some undergraduate colleges -- among them Franklin Pierce College, in New Hampshire, and John Brown University, in Arkansas -- are offering displaced students full tuition, room, and board. Great Basin College , a community college in Elko , Nev. , says it can fly in 30 to 50 students on a chartered flight, enroll them in classes, put them up in the community, and set up a meal plan for them. Harvard University says it will admit 25 displaced students as visiting undergraduates free of charge, and will offer housing on a space-available basis. "Priority will be given to students rendered homeless by the storm," the university's announcement says.

Other institutions that are accepting displaced students -- such as the University of Miami , which has already received more than 400 inquiries -- are trying to keep in mind both the needs of the students and the well-being of the universities that found themselves in the Katrina's way. These institutions say they will collect tuition from the displaced students but hold it in escrow for the colleges the students normally attend.

Mark A. Emmert, president of the University of Washington , sent out a campuswide e-mail message saying the Seattle institution expects 50 to 100 inquiries from displaced students, primarily from Tulane University . "Our plan is to accommodate students in a program comparable to the one in which they were enrolled and to have the tuition revenues that would normally go to Tulane continue to be directed to that institution," wrote Mr. Emmert, who is a former chancellor of Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge .

"It is critically important for Tulane and other universities affected by this disaster not to lose revenue and to have students return to their universities as soon as they reopen, whenever that may be," he added. Tulane has announced that it will be closed for the fall semester.

A number of institutions are offering to assist students from particular areas, and many offers are contingent on the students' being academically qualified to do well at the colleges taking them in.

The University of Pennsylvania , for instance, will let "academically-qualified Philadelphia-area undergraduates" take classes at no cost on a space-available basis, while Bates College says Maine undergraduates will be welcome in its classes.

Green Mountain College, in Poultney, Vt., will accept up to 20 students "from the New England, New York, or Pennsylvania area," according to a message on its Web site, in addition to two or three faculty members who would help teach the displaced students.

Duke University is extending an offer of free tuition and housing to North and South Carolina students, siblings of current Duke students, and children of Duke faculty and staff members and alumni.

With fall classes already under way or soon to begin at most institutions, the offers left admissions officials at many institutions scrambling to answer difficult questions, such as what kind of documentation to seek from the students. Smith College , which is offering tuition-free instruction for students from affected institutions, says the students "will be asked to provide a high-school transcript and a college transcript if, and when, one becomes available."

Some college officials turned to e-mail discussion lists to ask colleagues for advice about such tricky topics as enrolling foreign students. And many institutions warned that their dormitories were already full for the semester ahead, although officials promised to help find housing for any displaced students who do enroll.

A partial list of offers is available on the Web site of the Society for College and University Planning. Another list is available on the Web site of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.



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Southern Colleges and Sloan Foundation Join to Offer Free Online Courses to Displaced Students
By JEFFREY R. YOUNG


A group of universities in several states is working to put together a collection of 400 online courses that will be offered free to students whose educations have been disrupted by Hurricane Katrina.

The effort is being coordinated by the Southern Regional Education Board, which has 16 member states, and the Sloan Consortium, an organization that promotes standards for online learning. The foundation is asking the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for a $1.1-million grant for the effort.

The program, called the Sloan Semester, will begin in October and will follow an accelerated, eight-week format. Leaders of the effort hope students will be able to transfer the credits back to the institutions they had planned to attend when those colleges resume operations.

"This is a bridge that will get them from here back to their home institution when their home institution is ready to take them back, so that they don't lose this semester," Burks Oakley II, director of the University of Illinois Online, said in an interview late Friday. About 50 colleges have expressed interest in helping with the effort, he said. Participants include a range of institutions, including community colleges, technical colleges, research universities, he added. The project should offer up to 10,000 course enrollments, since as many as 25 students will be able to attend each of the courses. The effort is coming together swiftly -- it was first proposed last Wednesday after the scope of the storm's disruption became clear.

"The biggest problem now is getting the word out to the students," said Mr. Oakley.

Dallas County Community College District is among the institutions considering participating. "We are trying to get approval on that," said Pamela K. Quinn, assistant chancellor for educational telecommunications for the eight-campus system.

She said the college had already announced that it would allow students affected by the hurricane to take courses from the college -- online or at one of the campuses -- for the same tuition rate offered to in-county students. The community-college district also set up a $50,000 scholarship fund that will be used to give some of the students grants to cover tuition and books, said Ms. Quinn.

 


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Education Department Eases Rules for Colleges Accepting Students From Hurricane Region
By JEFFREY SELINGO


The U.S. Department of Education announced on Friday a series of special rules for higher-education institutions enrolling students on federal financial aid from institutions affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The regulations provide a way for colleges to work around existing rules that would make it difficult for them to accept students forced to leave storm-damaged institutions along the Gulf Coast .

Under normal circumstances, those students would be enrolled as "provisional students" because they were not accepted through a university's regular admissions process, making them ineligible for federal student aid. The rules released Friday explain how institutions can provide aid to those students as if they were admitted through the regular admissions process.

Another provision in the regulations permits colleges to give students transferring from institutions affected by Katrina the federal financial aid they originally qualified for, even if the aid was already disbursed. Education Department officials said they would work over the next several weeks to simplify the aid-disbursement process for colleges enrolling students from Gulf Coast institutions.



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