Saturday, September 10, 2005

How to help the Hurricane Katrina-devastated HBCUs

As I wrote in a post several days ago, I have been very concerned about the fate of two very important institutions located in New Orleans, Dillard University (established in 1869) and Xavier University of Louisiana (est. 1915). I've heard anecdotally that both were at least partially submerged by the post-Hurricane Katrina flood waters. From a colleague at my university, I learned that another historically Black college (HBCU) Tougaloo College (est. 1869), in Mississippi's capital city, Jackson, suffered a small amount of damage as well (please see below).

These three HBCUs have played a key role in educating African-Americans over the last century and a quarter. Dillard is the alma mater of Brown University's president, Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, the first Black person and female to lead an Ivy League institution, and for a while at the end of the 1990s, Dillard had as its president one of the dynamic figures in African-American education, Dr. Michael Lomax of Atlanta, Georgia. Xavier is the only Roman Catholic HBCU in the Western hemisphere and has one of the highest levels per capita of producing Black physicians and scientists of any college or university in the United States. Tougaloo, which was a headquarters for civil rights activism and the push for African-American political and social equality in the 1960s, graduates over 3/4ths of Mississippi's African-American doctors and lawyers.

All three institutions have considerably more limited financial resources than Hurricane Katrina-affected non-HBCUs in the region, such as Tulane University, and will need as much help as they can get, in terms of monetary donations, books and supplies, and new enrollment, to survive. The United Negro College Fund is collecting money on their behalf, so I urge you to contribute something to help all three institutions out.

According to Wikipedia's site, "Three buildings at the university were reported destroyed by a fire. [1]. A bus fire also destroyed belongings of 37 students in the process of being evacuated."
•This is Dillard's temporary, official Website.
•Dillard has set up this site for Hurricane Katrina information, though nothing has been posted yet.
•There are photos of Dillard University evacuees at this Centenary College site.
Chronicle of Higher Education article on Dillard's president's fundraising efforts to save the institution

Xavier's emergency Website
•Xavier University in Cincinnati has a Website with information on Xavier University in Louisiana

•On Tougaloo's Website, the college's president reports that the electricity has been restored and the cleanup has gone well, "you would not know the storm had ever touched our campus."

A general article on the institutions' devastation from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

New Orleans is a predominantly black city. And upwards of 80 percent of the city's black population is poor, with no automobiles, no relatives outside the city, and no money to buy transportation required to retreat from the devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Therefore, Hurricane Katrina has been disproportionately catastrophic for blacks.
As is the case with most natural disasters in urban areas, the sharp divide between blacks and whites becomes painfully clear.

So too is the terrible impact on African-American college students in New Orleans. Today and for the foreseeable future, there is no higher education in New Orleans, even on high ground, because there is no electricity in the city. Louisiana officials say that 135,000 college students in the state now have no school to attend.

According to JBHE's count, there are at least 20,000 black students enrolled in college in New Orleans who have been displaced and will not be attending classes this semester.

Colleges around the country, in many cases, have tried to find room for displaced students from New Orleans. But in most cases they are skimming off the academically talented white students from Tulane and other predominantly white institutions whose families are prepared to pay or have paid full tuition. Most African-American college students in New Orleans go to community colleges. Tens of thousands of them will have no place to go.

So far, JBHE has no data on the total number of displaced black students who have been admitted to other colleges. Hampton University, the historically black institution in Virginia, reports that about 25 black students who were enrolled at colleges in New Orleans are planning to transfer and enroll at Hampton.

Most of the students who lived on campus at historically black Dillard University were evacuated to predominantly white Centenary College in Shreveport before the hurricane struck. Both colleges are affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The Dillard campus was subsequently flooded with up to eight feet of water. Dillard president Marvalene Hughes has set up office in Atlanta. President Hughes is concerned that Dillard will permanently lose many students who enroll at other institutions this semester.

About three quarters of the 1,600 students at Xavier University, the historically black Catholic university in New Orleans, left campus before Hurricane Katrina hit the city. About 400 students remained on campus. They were housed in two high-rise dormitories. By this past Thursday they had run out of food and water. National Guard troops reached the dormitories by amphibious vehicles and transported the students to a nearby elevated highway. The students were then taken to Southern University in Baton Rouge. University officials said it would be at least late January before the university reopens.

The United Negro College Fund has set up a relief effort for Xavier and Dillard universities and also for Tougaloo College in Mississippi, which was also hit hard by the hurricane. Donations can be made online at:

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