Louisiana Tech receives award for hurricane-relief efforts

Louisiana Tech received has national recognition for its relief efforts following last year's hurricanes Katrina and Rita that devastated the Gulf Coast.

Tech was among nine universities to receive the Katrina Compassion Award for Excellence in Hurricane Relief Service from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the nation's largest independent grant-maker for the support of service and volunteerism.

"I am absolutely delighted," said Tech President Dan Reneau. "I am proud of the individuals here who worked so hard in that effort. That includes much of this universtiy." Within 24 hours following Katrina's landfall, Tech mobilized scores of faculty, staff and students to accommodate an expected flood of evacuees.

"Once we saw the magnitude of what was happening, almost overnight, we made a decision to open Caruthers (residence) Hall to some 300 evacuees," Reneau said.

Caruthers was closed and scheduled to be demolished. "Our people had it up and running in 24 hours," Reneau said.

"One of the worst events in the state's and nation's history brought out the best in Tech people," Reneau said. " It was a great tragedy and I thought this university needed to play a strong role in helping."

About 100 faculty and staff and more than 500 students helped to clean and renovate the residence hall to house displaced evacuees.

Tulane University's entire football program and its women's track team and staff were provided with office and workout space. The Tech football team altered its practice schedule to accommodate the Tulane team.

Tech admitted 289 displaced students from Gulf Coast colleges and distributed $310,796 in financial aid to many of them.

"Our entire faculty made the students feel welcome," Reneau said.

When Hurricane Rita devastated McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Tech helped by providing critical space and Internet facilities for the university's administration to operate.

Other hallmarks of Tech's hurricane help were:

  • University dining services provided more than 30,000 hot meals to the evacuees.
  • Shower facilities were made available to evacuees housed at the Ruston Civic Center.
  • Students and faculty put in some 2,500 hours of tutoring sessions and other activities for children of the evacuation.
  • During spring break, 23 students committed three days to Habitat for Humanity projects in South Louisiana.
  • University counselors, nurses and graduate students volunteered more than 115 hours of counseling and medical services.
  • An account was opened to help Katrina victims.
  • Tech waived tuition payments for students who had already paid tuition elsewhere until arrangements could be worked out.
  • Tech delayed tuition payments for students who couldn't pay because of the storm.
  • A professor and five students in the computer science program created a Web site aimed at locating people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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