One day into the new semester, the University continues to make progress in locating students from the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina last week.
Dean of Students Sue Eklund said there are now only 23 students from hurricane-affected areas that have not contacted the University, down from 32 over the Labor Day weekend.
Meanwhile, University admissions offices are working to handle hundreds of inquiries from students who had planned to attend Tulane and Xavier universities, the University of New Orleans and Loyola University New Orleans, all of which are located in the disaster-stricken areas.
As of yesterday, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has handled more than 100 inquiries. Twenty students received admission, three as incoming freshman and the rest as nondegree guest students, said administrators.
“We are still looking at this on a case-by-case basis,” said Ted Spencer, director of undergraduate admissions. “We are doing everything we can to help those students continue their education.”
Spencer said the majority of the students admitted were enrolled at Tulane but had hometowns in Michigan. Additional accepted students hailed from New York and Ohio. The Law School accepted nine students, and the Rackham School of Graduate Studies also accepted one displaced student. All arrived on campus in time for the start of classes yesterday.
Other schools within the University have received inquiries but have not admitted any new students.
Many of the students who had expressed interested in attending the University after the hurricane have decided to go to other universities, said Al Cotrone, director of administration for the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.
As students arrive, the Office of Financial Aid has provided two or three students with emergency funds for food and clothing, said Pam Fowler, financial aid director. The money for this aid comes from private endowments set aside for students with drastic circumstances, such as the survivors of Katrina, said Fowler.
As far as grants for tuition and housing, Fowler said her office is awaiting direction from the admissions office on the students’ financial and residency status.
Although some of the students were able to secure housing with friends or family in the area, University of Housing spokesman Alan Levy said his office is working closely with undergraduate admissions to ensure that all the displaced students have a place to live.
And despite almost-full residence halls, Levy said he is confident the University can provide on-campus housing for the new students.
“So far we have met the demand — we have placed seven undergraduate students and one graduate student,” he said. He added that even if on-campus housing becomes full, additional guest students would have a home, as several local landlords and community members have volunteered off-campus housing.
Yet some displaced students may have a harder time finding academic placement because of the nature of their studies. At the Medical School, administrators said they had received inquiries but did not admit any displaced students at the direction of the Association of American Medical Colleges, a group that serves medical schools across the country.
“The deans of the schools involved and the AAMC have requested that nobody admit medical students simply because they want this to be a coordinated rather than chaotic process,” said Executive Associate Dean James Woolliscroft.
He added that because most biomedical graduate students work on very specific projects, they would need to be placed in a lab conducting similar research to continue their studies, further limiting the Medical School’s ability to accept displaced students.
Still, to do their part, the Department of Emergency at the University of Michigan Health System is trying to organize medical teams to travel to New Orleans.
“We are part of a statewide effort to identify medical volunteers to staff a medical center in the Gulf region,” said Peter Forster, chief administrator for the Department of Emergency.
He added that 250 members of the hospital and Medical School staff are volunteering to go south for up to two weeks at a time.
But the volunteers must await federal direction before they can begin relief work, said Forster.
“As of right now we don’t know what to do or where they would go,” he said.
Administrators said the higher education community is responding to the disaster the best it can.
“Tulane University is very pleased to have the colleges around the country opening their doors to any of the students who would like to apply. It’s one of the things that is very gratifying about what we do,” said Spencer.