Vanderbilt offers classes to students displaced by Katrina

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In response to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, Vanderbilt University is offering a campus-wide response that includes medical aid, counseling for students from the affected areas, fund-raising and an option for local students displaced by the tragedy to continue their studies at Vanderbilt while their Gulf Coast colleges and universities work to restore their campuses.

To help displaced students pursue their educational goals, the university will offer “visiting student” status to a limited number of students who will be allowed to take up to four courses at Vanderbilt at a greatly reduced fee. In the first two hours after the “visiting student” plan was posted on the Vanderbilt website, the university received 30 inquiries and 16 applications.

“We have devised a plan to get students immersed fully in a higher education environment in this difficult time,” Chancellor Gordon Gee said Thursday. “In particular we welcome students from our local community who have returned from or were unable to begin their college experience.”

The special “visiting student” category is for students not seeking a Vanderbilt degree and who are able to live off campus. Because classes began at Vanderbilt Aug. 24, visiting students must enroll by Sept. 7 and will be limited to four courses.

Vanderbilt’s professional schools may also be able to accommodate a few students on a temporary basis, and students interested in a particular professional program are being encouraged to contact those schools’ admissions offices directly. The Vanderbilt Law School will accept up to 25 students from the law schools at Tulane and Loyola universities, both located in New Orleans. “In accordance with the wishes of the deans from those schools, we will accept only third-year students from Tulane and second- and third-year students from Loyola,” said, Don Welch, associate dean of the Vanderbilt Law School.

Interested second-year MBA students can choose from about a dozen elective courses in a variety of concentration areas at the university’s Owen Graduate School of Management. The Owen School operates on a module system with the next module beginning Oct. 17. Students interested in enrolling are encouraged to contact the Owen School by Sept. 15.

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt University Medical Center is working with the Nashville Office of Emergency Management and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to determine if it will receive any patients from the affected areas. More immediately, the Medical Center is working through the Middle Tennessee Medical Reserve Corp., which is housed at Vanderbilt as part of the National Center for Emergency Preparedness, to send medical teams into the Gulf Coast area. As of Thursday morning, more than 60 Vanderbilt medical personnel had volunteered to either help with patients who might be transported to the Medical Center or to join the teams that will travel to the affected areas.

With approximately 700 students from the affected states, Vanderbilt offered counseling through its chaplain’s office and Psychological and Counseling Center to “help students and student groups seeking to come to terms with this tragedy.”

Campus groups also were beginning to organize a campus fundraising drive to support disaster relief efforts and plans were underway for a possible trip during fall break, Oct. 22-25, to assist with disaster release and reconstruction efforts.

The university’s Division of Student Life is working with Second Harvest Food Bank to collect donations of food and personal care items on the Vanderbilt campus for hurricane survivors. Donations will be accepted in Sarratt Student Center’s West Promenade Lobby (2nd Floor) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Friday, Sept. 9.

A special website,, has been established to provide details about the visiting student program as well as information about counseling services, volunteer opportunities and other activities related to Vanderbilt’s response to the hurricane.

Contact: Elizabeth Latt, (615) 322-NEWS

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