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WMU welcomes students from Katrina-ravaged areas

Sept. 2, 2005

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University is working with college students from campuses in hurricane-stricken areas to offer them alternative enrollment and a chance to keep their college careers moving forward.

University officials are already working with a handful of students from affected campuses who have expressed an interest in coming to WMU. Initial contacts have come through family members in this area, and the University is expecting to field additional requests for either guest student status or permanent enrollment.

WMU President Judith I. Bailey says enrollment offers to students who are unable to proceed with their previous college plans are a way the University community can help address the enormous problems caused by Hurricane Katrina.

"We may be many miles away, but in spirit we are close to our colleagues in those three states and the students with whom they work," said Bailey in announcing the University's decision to lend assistance. "This is one way we can put our strengths as an institution to work to help in the nation's recovery from this extraordinary event."

According to John Beacon, WMU's vice provost for enrollment management, the University has already been in touch with the families of several students and expects at least one--a student from Tulane University--to arrive on campus in the next few days.

"We're basically removing all of the procedural barriers--such as late fees--and speeding the admission and enrollment process for qualified students so they can enroll for fall semester," Beacon said. "Whatever students need to make this happen, we're going to take care of it. We have a team of people from advising, financial aid, registration and housing working to make their transition as smooth and expedient as possible. Ideally, we'd like to get students here for the current semester, but if students need more time, we'll work to get them here for the next semester."

Dozens of colleges are located in the three states where emergencies have been declared. Most were in their opening days of the fall semester, and in many cases, students were evacuated as Katrina approached land. Numerous students lost all of their belongings and are facing long delays before their campuses return to normal.

"Many of our sister institutions in the affected areas are in emergency situations that truly can be called the worst nightmare for those charged with educating young people," Bailey said. "We're exploring ways to direct any gift aid that comes from the campus community toward helping our sister institutions rebuild their campuses."

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Campus community focuses on Katrina-relief efforts

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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