University of Pittsburgh
September 1, 2005

University Responds to Hurricane Katrina

Contact:  412-624-4147

Over the course of recent days, all of us have been shocked and saddened by the destructive impact of Hurricane Katrina on so many thousands of people in this country's Gulf Coast region. To what must be our shared distress, transmitted images of the resulting suffering have left most of us with a clear sense that the devastation is even worse than we had first feared.

Structuring effective and appropriate responses to a disaster of this magnitude and at such a distance is difficult. However, our University has been attempting to be of help on a number of different fronts.

We can, most naturally, be of help in providing temporary support to students and faculty from affected colleges and universities. To this point, for reasons we all understand, those institutions have not been able to share their own sense of what types of support might be most helpful. However, even as we have been assessing our own resources, we have been actively exchanging information and ideas with members of the Association of American Universities. And knowing that displaced students are under very real time pressures to find educational alternatives for the current semester, we have moved forward to try to meet their needs.

More specifically, to the extent that space is available, we are offering guest student status to Pennsylvania residents (and, in some limited cases, to nonresident students) who are undergraduate or graduate students at colleges and universities closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We already are beginning to receive and process these special applications and expect some of these students to enroll at the beginning of next week. If a given student is not able to commute, we will try to assist that student in finding appropriate housing nearby – though no campus housing is available. We also will offer guest scholar status to faculty from affected universities who wish to use our libraries.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, with the active participation of members of our health sciences faculty, is fully engaged in providing a wide variety of specialized assistance to the victims of this disaster. Along with the Pittsburgh Steelers, KDKA Television, and Clear Channel Radio, we have entered into a fundraising partnership with the American Red Cross. Those efforts will include a series of events, beginning with our home football game against Notre Dame this Saturday and concluding with the Steelers' opening game against the Tennessee Titans the following weekend.

The University also is a part of a consortium of organizations and governmental agencies working to craft a regional response. That group is moving forward with its efforts and expects to issue initial information regarding its plans in the very near future.

Mark A. Nordenberg


September 2, 2005