Schools to help storm victims
September 3, 2005
The Salt Lake Tribune
By Shinika A. Sykes
Responding to Hurricane Katrina's devastating impact, the University of Utah and Westminster College say they will admit some students who are unable to attend fall semester at colleges in the stricken areas.
The U. has received numerous inquiries from Utah families whose children have been attending institutions in the devastated area and now wish to return to the state to continue their studies, spokesman Fred Esplin said. Students seeking to enroll in the state-owned U. must be Utah residents and must register for fall semester no later than Sept. 9, he said.
"Tuition and fee waivers will be considered on a case-by-case basis."
The state's residential requirement doesn't apply to the private Westminster College, which will accept all eligible students from accredited institutions in the stricken areas, said President Michael Bassis. "In the face of such terrible tragedy, we felt this was a small but important step we could take to help some of the people impacted by this event."
Bassis noted that his school's plans to accommodate the displaced students were still being developed Friday. Westminster is awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Education about how to award federal aid to Gulf Coast students who are seeking enrollment at other schools for the fall or even spring semester.
"We want students to have the option of continuing their education uninterrupted, as soon as possible," Bassis said.
Students who accept Westminster's invitation will be considered visiting, nondegree-seeking students and will be able to transfer credit for course work back to their home institutions in accordance with their home campus policies, according to Helen Langan, associate director of communications at Westminster.
Although it has made no plans Friday to enroll students from the storm-damaged area, Utah State University director of athletics Randy Spetman is working with his U. counterpart, Chris Hill, to come up with some kind of a "relief effort" for hurricane victims when the two Utah schools meet Sept. 10, according to Tim Vitale, assistant director of public relations at USU.
Hurricane Katrina has had an impact on USU. The Logan school canceled today's season opening football game against Nicholls State due to the storm's effect on that school's preparation and its players' ability to travel, Vitale said. Nicholls State is in Thibodaux, La., approximately 66 miles southwest of New Orleans.
U. and Westminster officials expect that most of the students who apply will be Utahns and the number seeking to return to the state will not be large.