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Distributed September 2, 2005
Contact Mark Nickel

President Ruth J. Simmons
After Hurricane Katrina: ‘We are fortunate to be in a position to help’

In an e-mail message to the campus community, Brown President Ruth J. Simmons outlined steps the University is taking in response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. The text of the President’s message follows here.

September 2, 2005

Members of the Brown Community,

The loss of life, devastation, and desperate conditions that Hurricane Katrina inflicted on communities in New Orleans and the Gulf region calls us to act quickly to bring appropriate relief and support to those who are displaced, injured and economically disadvantaged.

Members of the Brown community are already on the scene, including some members of Brown's emergency medical services staff, assisting with relief efforts. Our Program in Public Health and Brown Medical School are working with federal agencies to arrange consultations on critical health issues and to identify needed resources, including hospital beds, for patients requiring evacuation from the Gulf Coast area.

As relief organizations provide food, water, clothing and other essentials, Brown will take a number of steps to help some of the students at higher education institutions who have no hope of attending their colleges and universities this semester. We will accommodate as many of these students as space allows, providing free tuition for one semester.

Brown and the seven other institutions in the Rhode Island Independent Higher Education Association (RIIHEA) will offer admission for the upcoming semester to Rhode Island residents whose studies at colleges and universities in the devastated areas have been interrupted by the hurricane. Students will apply through RIIHEA, which will coordinate with member institutions. Brown will supply a staff member to assist this effort for undergraduate students, graduate students, and medical students who are Rhode Island residents. Displaced students who are Rhode Island residents may contact RIIHEA directly at (401) 272-8270.

Students who would otherwise be enrolled in colleges and universities in the affected communities and who are siblings of currently enrolled Brown students will also be offered admission to the University for one semester. They may contact the admission office directly.

Brown will accept undergraduates for one semester from Xavier University of Louisiana, Dillard University, and Tulane University whose studies have been interrupted by the disaster. Brown will encourage Leadership Alliance institutions to join us in this effort. Leadership Alliance students whose studies have been interrupted by the hurricane may contact the Leadership Alliance at Brown: (401) 863-1474.

The College Admission Office is developing a streamlined process to handle the admission of all students as special students when they present evidence of enrollment at an institution that has suspended its operations because of the hurricane. The College Admission Office may be contacted at (401) 863-2378. The application is available online (pdf).

Although we have no space available to house students, we will do everything possible to help them find housing during their time at the University. Efforts will be made to arrange accommodations for students with demonstrated need as determined by the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).

Graduate Students:

The Dean of the Graduate School has sent a letter to Chairs and Directors of Graduate Study asking that they accept qualified students from graduate institutions that have been forced to close as a result of the hurricane. Admitted for one semester as exchange scholars on special student status, they will not be charged tuition. Places will be assigned on a space-available basis, which varies from department to department. Students may call the Graduate School at (401) 863-2600 to inquire.

Post-Doctoral Fellows and Faculty:

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) will send a message to Brown faculty members requesting that they reach out to collaborators and colleagues at affected institutions and invite them to send their post-doctoral fellows to Brown, and to come to the University as visiting faculty, if space and other necessary facilities can be provided to support their research. OVPR will provide limited funding for travel or minimal research expenses. Inquiries should be directed to OVPR at (401) 863-7999.

What you can do to help:

We are fortunate to be in a position to help some of the students and faculty whose studies and research have been interrupted in such a tragic way by Hurricane Katrina. In moments such as these we must do more than offer sympathy. We must act, and act quickly. I encourage all members of the Brown community to direct contributions to relief efforts through many established organizations. Information about some of these organizations is available at and elsewhere on the Internet.

As the coming days pass and we learn more about the tragedy, we may be asked to do more. I know that you, as I, are anxious to respond.


Ruth J. Simmons


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