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August 29, 2005

Dear Students and Colleagues,

What's the buzz? Is it that we're leap-frogging in the national rankings? Perhaps it's the big UM-FSU game next week on ABC's Monday Night Football? Or maybe it's that Hurricane Katrina blew through here Thursday night and kicked up one heck of a mess.

Well, all of that, for sure. But during the next several days, the real buzz will be the sound of chain saws as cleanup crews work nonstop to get the Coral Gables campus back to normal.

As you can see, much progress has already been made in the cleanup, but we decided to close the Coral Gables campus on Monday so we could make even more of an impact. The campus is completely safe, as it has been all along, and clearing streets, walkways, plazas, and parking lots has been a top priority. We're now removing debris, making minor repairs, mopping up water in some academic and administrative buildings, and restoring landscaping. Fortunately, we sustained only minimal damage to the medical and Rosenstiel School campuses, and they are back to business as usual.

Let's all extend our thanks to those members of the staff and faculty -- essential personnel -- who have put in countless hours the past few days to maintain vital services and get the campuses cleaned up quickly. They have done an outstanding job.

For those of you who have weathered hurricanes, you know how resilient our environment -- and our community -- can be. For those of you who experienced your first hurricane with Katrina, you'll see just how quickly everything -- and everyone -- bounces back even stronger. I trust that each of you came through the storm with minimal damage to your homes and that you and your families are beginning to get back to your normal routines.

I am well aware that we should have closed earlier on Thursday. No excuses. For the future, we will find a way to remain nimble in our decision-making as weather forecasts and conditions change. We care deeply about our University family and will always think of your safety first.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people in the southern U.S. who are now dealing with a much-stronger Hurricane Katrina.

Thanks for your patience and understanding as we finish the cleanup and continue to fine-tune our emergency preparedness plan. A few more days and our campus will be completely back to normal.

Best wishes,

Donna E. Shalala

Office of the President
P.O. Box 248006 Coral Gables, Florida 33124-4600
305-284-5155 Fax 305-284-3768