We have all been moved by the unspeakable tragedy that has befallen our
fellow citizens as a result of the horrific devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
As long-time residents of Louisiana, my wife Rachel and I are stunned
almost beyond belief by the destruction of New Orleans and smaller communities
throughout the wide path of the storm.
It was terrible to see the dispossessed huddled in the Superdome like
steerage passengers below decks on the Titanic. It is sobering to think
that there is a very real likelihood that human activity has created the
planetary phenomenon of global warming, intensifying the extent and force
of storms like Katrina, while more local mismanagement of precious wetlands
and river basins has laid the stage for this vast human and ecological
Joining with citizens throughout the country, members of the UVM community,
individually and collectively, took action to alleviate the immediate
suffering and contribute to the long-term well-being of the millions who
have felt the scourge of Katrina. At the University of Vermont we are
also exploring how we can help students and faculty based in New Orleans
at Dillard and Xavier universities, two of the nations leading historically
black colleges, so that they can sustain their studies and programs until
their campuses are able to re-open.
The connections between Vermont and Dillard run deep in the institutions
history and are also very recent. UVM alumni were instrumental in the
founding of Dillard, and in 2004, we honored Michael Lomax, former president
of Dillard and now president of the United Negro College Fund, with an
honorary degree. Working through an effort coordinated by New York Universitys
Faculty Resource Network, we are making arrangements to host some of the
displaced Dillard faculty for the remainder of the fall semester. In addition,
a number of Tulane undergraduates have enrolled at UVM, three as permanent
students and an additional six for the fall semester only.
Though thousands of miles separate the Gulf Coast and Burlington, Vermont,
we are all drawn closer by the test of this greatly troubled time in New
Orleans and surrounding communities. The gruesome spectacle of Katrinas
aftermath is a vivid reminder of why UVMs commitments to social
justice and environmental stewardship must be expressed above all in the
preparation of students who will be leaders committed to making a difference
in their lives and work.
To the alumni and parents of the UVM community directly affected by the
devastation of Hurricane Katrina, our thoughts and prayers are with you
Daniel Mark Fogel