Dear Members of Our University Community:
Welcome back! What a week it has been!
Our campuses fared extremely well, and at all times the University
remained safe and secure. We had some landscaping damage,
a few broken windows, and a few leaks, but nothing that couldn't
be cleaned up during the week.
Like most everyone else in South Florida, the University lost
power during the storm. We relied on back-up generators for
our residential facilities and other essential operations
for a short time. We were fortunate to have electricity back
in all of the residential facilities within 24 hours after
the storm and in most buildings University-wide by Wednesday.
We were serving thousands of hot meals on a regular basis
in the dining halls by Tuesday.
We decided to remain closed through the remainder of last
week and the weekend for a number of reasons. Many of our
students left campus prior to the storm and were having difficulty
getting flights back into town. Many of our faculty, staff,
and commuter students were without electricity and needed
to deal with damage to their own homes. Additionally, in the
interest of everyone's safety, we wanted to remain closed
until most traffic signals, streetlights, and public transportation
could be restored.
I know some of us still face the challenges of power outages
in our homes and lines at gas stations. These issues are being
remedied, and we have been in regular conversations with leaders
of the public schools and local government. It will take some
time for our communities to recover. Provost LeBlanc and I
have asked all members of the University's faculty and administration
to exercise sensitivity and flexibility with individual students
and employees who may have extenuating circumstances. Please
also note that FEMA has established resources for residential
losses; please visit http://fema.gov/
or call 1-800-621-3362 for assistance.
During the past week, the provost and I consulted with the
academic deans, the Faculty Senate leadership, the vice president
for student affairs, and the president of Student Government
to develop a revised academic calendar for the remainder of
this semester. We're essentially combining reading days and
final exam days to make up the missed days without extending
the calendar. Graduation ceremonies will still take place
as scheduled. The revised
academic calendar is posted on the University's Web site.
I am constantly impressed by the resilience, fortitude, and
resourcefulness of our University family, as well as our South
Florida community. On Saturday we helped 30,000 people cure
their cabin fever by going ahead with our football game at
the Orange Bowl. There's nothing quite like a Miami Hurricanes
victory to boost everyone's spirits. We thank Miami Mayor
Manny Diaz and City Manager Joe Arriola for their support
and assistance. As an added bonus, our industrious and thoughtful
students collected funds at the game to support Hurricane
Wilma relief efforts.
I thank all of you for your dedication, hard work, and patience.
We all need to thank the University's key staff who prepared
for the storm, maintained vital operations, and quickly got
the University reopened. I'm so proud to be a part of this
I want to invite you to continue to make suggestions about
how we can improve our response to these terrible events.
I will be particularly interested in your comments about our
communications to you.