Sept. 2, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Peggy Cooper
Evacuated Dillard University students watch the news coverage of Hurricane Katrina at Centenary College in Shreveport, La.
A UMNS Report
By Vicki Brown*
Galloway carried only clothes as he and some 250 other Dillard
University students fled the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. He watched in
horror as one of their buses caught fire, destroying the few belongings
those students were taking from New Orleans to Centenary College in
Galloway and other Dillard students and faculty
staying at Centenary College said people at the college and in the
community had been wonderful. Both institutions are related to the
United Methodist Church.
Churches, individuals and businesses in
Shreveport donated food, clothes, and toiletries, and provided buses,
cab fare, and plane fare to get students home. “This is seeing people
who walk their faith and live it,” said Freddie Hill, vice president for
campus life at Dillard, who traveled with the students to Centenary and
has been arranging transportation home.
“We’ve seen day-to-day
miracles. We needed a bus to take students home; a church gave us a
bus,” Hill said. One man paid $900 for three cabs to drive students home
All of the students who lived on campus were safely
evacuated to Centenary, said Marvalene Hughes, who became president of
Dillard in July. But, she said, she has no way of knowing if any of the
students who lived off campus or faculty are still in New Orleans.
Enrollment is about 2,000.
|A UMNS photo by Peggy Cooper
evacuated from the flooded campus of Dillard University in New Orleans
sleep on a gymnasium floor at Centenary College in Shreveport.
Meanwhile, the campus at Dillard, one of the denomination’s
historically black colleges, is flooded with five to eight feet of
water. Hughes is struggling to set up a command center and a Web page at
www.dillard.edu to stay in touch
with students and faculty. While she tries to figure out how to make
payroll, she confers with insurers about coverage.
“We don’t know
how to assess the damage at this point,” Hughes said. Two engineers
trying to assess damage were waiting Thursday to be airlifted out of the
“Dillard will be back and better as soon as possible,’’
Hughes vowed, adding that she is investigating alternate sites and any
other possibilities that will allow classes to resume.
unbelievable offers,” she said, with some colleges offering free
semesters or in-state tuition, and others, including Centenary,
extending fall enrollment for students affected by the hurricane.
however, worries that students who enroll elsewhere will not return
when Dillard reopens. She urged students to wait. “We will re-open and
provide two semesters of college this year. We were a great, top-flight
university, but we intend to become even better.”
Some students were determined to stick with Dillard.
going to wait, even if we lose a semester,” said Veronica Sumner, a
sophomore from Little Rock, Ark., who was staying with a friend in
Galloway, a sophomore from Dallas, agreed. Evacuated
last year because of Hurricane Ivan, he has faith that college officials
will get the school operating.
“I stay optimistic,” Galloway says. “It’ll work out for the best.”
Depending on the damage, Hughes said the college might be able to erect temporary buildings at the campus.
United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry will collect
donations on behalf of Dillard to help with the university’s hurricane
recovery. Staff members are working with college officials to find space
to set up a command center in Atlanta or Washington.
pledged to advance Dillard its $250,000 apportionment from the Black
College Fund immediately as well as an additional $50,000 from the
University College Fund to help with hurricane relief, said the Rev.
Jerome King Del Pino, top staff executive.
Wanda Bigham, staff
executive for schools, colleges, and universities, said the agency would
pay for transportation home for the students still left at Centenary.
Current-Felder, executive director of the Office of Loans and
Scholarships, said her office has already received calls from students
at Tulane and other colleges closed because of the hurricane. New
procedures will accommodate loan and scholarship recipients affected by
the hurricane. If necessary, special repayment arrangements will be
Dillard was the only United Methodist-related
institution that suffered severe damage in the wake of Hurricane
Katrina. The college had both flooding from the levee break and wind
damage from the actual storm. Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.,
suffered some minor roof damage and has numerous trees down, but
expected to resume classes Sept. 5. Rust College in Holly Springs,
Miss., and Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn., also reported minor
Del Pino said Centenary’s quick response
to aid Dillard shows the “genius of connectionalism” of the United
Methodist Church. “In this very traumatic experience, it is possible for
us as a denomination to give thanks for the provisions to care for
institutions, especially Dillard,” he said.
The Rev. Betsy Eaves,
chaplain at Centenary, said despite the strain of the bus fire and
leaving their belongings at the dorms in New Orleans, the Dillard
students were “in good spirits.”
“They’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of the churches and individuals,” Eaves said.
An online link to donate directly to Dillard will be posted soon at www.gbhem.org/hurricaneresponse.html.
Contributions can also be mailed to the Dillard Hurricane Relief Fund,
c/o the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, P.O. Box 340007,
Nashville, Tenn. 37230-0007.
*Brown is an associate editor and
writer in the Office of Interpretation, United Methodist General Board
of Higher Education and Ministry.
News media contact: Kathy Noble, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.