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September 1, 2005

Dear Colleagues and Students,

As much as Hurricane Katrina disrupted our lives and the first few days of classes here at the University of Miami, we are all so very thankful that we were spared the devastation that has besieged the Gulf Coast states. The stories and images that are coming out of that part of the country are heartbreaking -- human tragedies of epic proportions.

While institutions of higher education can be intensely competitive at times, a disaster like this knits us together as one community. The administration, faculty, staff, and students of the University of Miami have close bonds with our colleagues at other institutions. We are reaching out to them to do whatever we can to help them get through this very difficult time. I'd like to update you briefly on some of the things we're doing to help our colleagues in neighboring states.

The University of Miami is receiving numerous calls from students from universities such as Tulane and Loyola that have been seriously affected by Hurricane Katrina. As of Thursday morning, more than 400 inquiries have been received from students displaced by the hurricane, most of them from Florida and many of them from South Florida. Clearly, we want to do everything possible to help our community and to help these young people stay on track with their plans for a college education. It's the right thing to do.

We are making every effort to accommodate undergraduate students on a case-by-case basis as non-degree seeking students. We are enrolling them, but not formally admitting them, since our assumption is that they will eventually return to their home institutions. They are being enrolled based on seat availability in classrooms and based on our ability to identify classes that they need for their degree programs. We will not be able to accommodate these students in on-campus housing. Please refer any inquiries regarding undergraduates to Deanna Voss in the Office of Admission at 305-284-5673.

The University will not profit in any way from accommodating any of these students. The students will pay tuition; however, the tuition dollars will be held in escrow for eventual disbursement to their home institutions.

Additionally, the School of Law and the Miller School of Medicine are allowing a limited number of students to sit in on classes, since enrolling these students is not feasible. Please refer inquiries regarding the School of Law to Bill Vanderwyden at 305-284-4551. The Association of American Medical Colleges is coordinating the many offers of help from medical schools around the country; inquiries regarding the Miller School of Medicine may be directed to their Dr. Robert Hernandez at 305-243-2003.

Many of you have expressed a desire to make donations to relief efforts. The best and easiest way to do this is through the University's United Way campaign. You may direct your contribution to any nonprofit organization, such as the American Red Cross, through a United Way gift. If you'd like to make a donation or discuss a possible fundraising initiative, please contact UM's United Way campaign director, Pat Grewe, at 305-284-6348.

Our University family is also organizing a number of outreach activities. The Butler Volunteer Services Center, under the leadership of Keith Fletcher, is working closely with the American Red Cross to coordinate relief efforts. I might also add that both FSU president T.K. Wetherell and I have taped public service announcements that will be aired during Monday night's football game on ABC, encouraging donations to the American Red Cross. Funds to support relief efforts will be collected at the game.

I want to thank everyone for all that you have done during the past week to help the University endure Hurricane Katrina and bounce back so quickly. You are all heroes, and we are truly fortunate to be in a position to help others. We will keep you informed.


Donna E. Shalala

Office of the President
P.O. Box 248006 Coral Gables, Florida 33124-4600
305-284-5155 Fax 305-284-3768