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Lehigh reaches out to Hurricane Katrina victims

As recovery efforts continue in the Gulf Coast states, Lehigh University is doing its part to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina—at home and beyond.

When the hurricane hit early last week, the Dean of Students Office identified and reached out to the 11 Lehigh students known to have hometowns in the most affected states of Louisiana and Mississippi to offer support and assistance. The university continues to provide support to those and others on campus whose families have been affected by this terrible tragedy.

“All of us in the Lehigh community are shocked and saddened by the death and devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and other areas,” says Gregory Farrington, Lehigh president. “Jean and I wanted to offer our own words of care and concern to all those impacted by the disaster, especially those from our own Lehigh family.”

Lehigh is working with students from Gulf Coast universities and colleges affected by the hurricane who are looking for ways to pursue their education while their institutions recover from the devastation. Although Lehigh’s unexpectedly large undergraduate entering class filled its campus beyond capacity this fall, the university wants to provide help where possible.

As a result, Eric Kaplan, dean of admissions and financial aid, has begun to invite qualified displaced students to attend Lehigh as guest students for the fall semester. Lehigh is following American Council For Education guidelines on admitting students from areas affected by Katrina.

Once these affected students are on campus, Lehigh will do all that is necessary to help them assimilate into the university community and have a successful living and learning experience.

In addition, a faculty panel will discuss the hurricane and its aftermath with students in an open forum at 4 p.m. Thursday in Neville Hall Room 2.

And in true Lehigh style, many members of the campus community have expressed interest in helping with the relief effort as well.

Lehigh students—who are true global citizens—are currently organizing fundraisers to help raise money for the various relief agencies that are working directly with victims. Groups such as University Productions, Student Senate, ASA’s, the Gryphon Society, and Leadership Lehigh are planning to work together with the Office of Community Service to coordinate efforts. The Graduate Student Senate is also working to help raise funds through various events and initiatives.

Lehigh will also work with student volunteers, who are deployed via military or firefighting/rescue affiliations, so that they can assist with search and rescue or other relief efforts in the region.

For those Lehigh family members who would like to donate directly to relief agencies, one option is to contribute through the American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley, which is accepting contributions at:

Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
American Red Cross
2200 Avenue A
Bethlehem, PA 18017


Donors are asked to make checks out to “American Red Cross,” with “Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund” on the memo line. Or you can make a secure online donation.

Among the other disaster relief organizations accepting contributions are:

Salvation Army

America’s Second Harvest

“Our hopes and prayers are with all those who have been affected by this terrible national tragedy,” Farrington says. “I encourage you all to do whatever you are able to support those impacted by this disaster.”

Posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2005

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