As we come to the end of the first week of school since Hurricane Katrina, I want to pause to thank the University family for again rising to the occasion during a time of crisis. Our faculty, staff, and students have responded admirably to one of the greatest natural disasters in the history of our country.
Before, during and after the storm, the USA family proved repeatedly that unity is an all-important element of coping and recovering during times like these. In particular, I want to thank the many people who helped the University continue to perform its varied missions. Our gratitude goes to our:
- Faculty, who provided support, guidance and assistance to our students, and to each other.
- Police, housing, maintenance, safety, utilities, facilities and plant operations, and grounds personnel who helped maintain a safe and comfortable campus environment.
- Student affairs and dining service personnel who helped coordinate shelters and meet the needs of our students and employees during the storm.
- Deans' offices, enrollment services, financial aid, the registrar's office, financial affairs, and University computer services/telecommunications who provided vital assistance for our students and more than 100 others who have enrolled in USA after being displaced from universities damaged by the storm.
- Doctors, nurses, and health care personnel, many of whom served during the height of the storm and continue to assist.
- USA weather service and public relations teams, who kept the University community informed with accurate and timely information.
- Students, who conducted themselves in superior fashion throughout the crisis and have come to the aid of the less fortunate in countless ways since the storm.
Again, we thank all who are helping us weather this crisis. However, let us not underestimate the degree to which life has been disrupted or altered for many among our University family. Numerous students have had to suspend their studies for now, and we are assisting them in whatever way we can. We have faculty, staff and students who have lost loved ones and homes. It is our sincere goal to assist in every way possible all who have suffered loss and to be patient and supportive as they deal with their individual challenges.
For the most part, the University was spared major physical or economic harm. Since the economic impact of the storm on the University was initially unclear, media accounts of a discussion in last week's public Board of Trustees meeting stated, accurately, that the University might be required to delay the salary increase proposed for October 1. I am pleased to report that it now appears this measure will not be necessary. Salary increases will be effective October 1 as planned.
As the University family continues to heal, it remains incumbent upon us all to assist our community and our neighbors to the west in moving further toward healing. I again commend and thank you for your strength, your commitment, and your untiring efforts on behalf of the University and the people we serve.