Saturday, October 01, 2005

Another devastatingly sad story

The federal government needs to allocate a large chunk of the rebuilding funds for the Gulf Coast for New Orleans' three black colleges. Katrina ravaged their campuses and the cost of rebuilding is staggering. From the Washington Post:

New Orleans's Black Colleges Hit Hard

Schools Worry About Losing Faculty to Host Institutions While They Rebuild

By Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 1, 2005; Page A01

Concern is growing among black educators about the future of New Orleans's three historic African American universities, which were hit much harder by Katrina -- and have fewer resources with which to recover -- than the city's other major colleges.

Dillard University, Xavier University of Louisiana and Southern University at New Orleans got smacked with at least $1 billion in flood and fire destruction -- by far the worst damage of all the city's institutions of higher education.

he schools' limited endowments, coupled with a generally less-moneyed alumni base, have posed particular challenges to saving these venerable institutions, say school officials and education advocates. Sources say there have been some preliminary discussions about whether the schools can continue to pay faculty salaries and benefits while rebuilding.

"The task is just daunting," Dillard University President Marvalene Hughes said after she viewed the damage firsthand on Friday. "Seeing it was my reality."

In the hours after the storm, Dillard -- a stately, leafy 135-year-old campus -- was floating in upwards of 10 feet of water and lost three dorms to fire. Xavier, the nation's only historically black Catholic college, is today drenched in sludge and mold and has a flooded library, among other damage. Southern, part of the only black college system in the nation, was flooded in all its 11 buildings. Chancellor Edward Jackson believes the entire campus needs to be razed and rebuilt, at a cost of $500 million.

Last week, school administrators pleaded with government officials for special and expedited financial help that would include generous incentives to lure back faculty and 8,000 students to the colleges -- long considered a vital part of the culture and fabric of the city's large black community -- who dispersed to other schools when New Orleans was evacuated.


We'll see if the response meets the desperate need.

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