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Baptist colleges hit by Katrina helping students stay in school

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (BP)–Students at William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Miss., resumed classes Sept. 19 after Hurricane Katrina swept through the region. The storm wiped out the school’s ability to hold classes at extension centers in Gulfport and New Orleans.

Water and power have been restored to the Hattiesburg campus, and students were allowed to return to their dorms Sept. 17-18, according to a news release by the school.

“We are back in business in Hattiesburg and are looking forward to accommodating students from our Gulfport and New Orleans campuses,” Larry Kennedy, the school’s president, said.

Students who were enrolled at the Gulfport and New Orleans sites have three options for the immediate future. They may choose to transfer to the Hattiesburg campus, attend rescheduled classes at alternate locations in Gulfport, or void their fall registration and receive a full refund of tuition payments.

Kennedy assured his student body that plans are already underway for rebuilding the Gulfport facility.

“We will rebuild our Gulfport campus on the coast,” he said. “We owe it to our faculty, staff, students and patrons to return better than ever and as soon as possible.”

Carey’s school of nursing in New Orleans is located on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and endured Katrina with little damage, the school reported. Plans are in place to reopen the nursing school whenever the seminary resumes classes in the city.

Classes in Gulfport have been relocated to First Missionary Baptist Church there and to Gulfport High School, according to a Sept. 15 news release. Students may obtain further information by visiting www.wmcarey.edu or by calling (601) 318-6101.

Meanwhile, at Judson College in Marion, Ala., officials are offering full tuition and fee waivers for the 2005-06 academic year for college students in regionally accredited institutions displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The school, which is the nation’s fifth oldest women’s college and was founded by Baptists in 1838, also promises to help speed up the federal aid process to cover room and board for affected students.

“Keeping with the long tradition at Judson College of reaching out to others in the name of Christ, the office of admissions will do everything we can to expedite the enrollment of students displaced by Katrina,” Michael Scotto, the school’s director of admissions, said. “We encourage every student who is looking for a temporary college home and a place that honors Christ to call or e-mail us at her earliest convenience.”

More information is available at www.judson.edu or 1-800-447-9472.

The University of Mobile in Alabama was only slightly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, but the homes of several students and faculty were severely damaged or destroyed by the storm.

According to a mid-September news release, the campus suffered a few broken windows, a few downed trees, some shingles blown off, a damaged fence and five days without electricity, which was minor compared to what happened to Josh Banashek’s home in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

“Our house is completely done for,” Banashek, a senior social science major, said. “It was completely picked up and moved. The walls are gone. The roof is caved in. It was just demolished.”

The school had shut down on the Saturday before Katrina hit so that students could travel out of the storm’s path. In the aftermath, staff members helped students find temporary homes until power was restored to the campus, and classes resumed Sept. 6.

Mark Foley, president of the University of Mobile, told students, faculty and staff the following day that a personal touch is needed to bring order out of the chaos of Katrina.

“With something this massive, you have to break it down into pieces that are small enough for you to touch on a given day,” Foley said. “My challenge to you — and my own personal challenge — is to bring that healing touch in your own life or the life of another. Every day find one way to personally change the disorder of Katrina into the order of life.”

School administrators are in the process of contacting students from hurricane-ravaged areas to assess their needs, and officials are working with students to find ways to stay in school, including matching students’ needs with individuals, groups or businesses willing to help, according to the UM news release.

Students are organizing teams to work with area churches and organizations in cleaning up Mobile, distributing food and cooking for relief teams.

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