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January 13, 2010

To the University Community:

Yesterday Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake. It will be several days before a full assessment of the damage reaches us, but its impact on our South Florida community—where thousands of Haitian families live—is immediate. Even now, UM students, faculty, staff, and alumni are waiting to hear from or about loved ones in Haiti, and our thoughts and prayers go out to them. Counselors are available to our students through the Counseling Center at 305-284-5511. Faculty and staff who need assistance should contact the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program at 305-284-6604, and at the Miller School campus at 305-243-7676.

A number of our students and faculty were in Haiti during the winter break. Although communications on the island are almost completely disrupted, we have been able to make contact with most of our people through a network of students, families, and staff. We are making arrangements to provide any assistance we can and to bring everyone safely back to Miami.

Many of you have asked how we can best help the quake victims. Right now we can all send our message of hope and compassion by giving to the United Way/UM “Operation Helping Hands,” which supports the UM Global Institute and the work of our doctors, nurses, and students who are working directly with victims. We appreciate the United Way’s help in making this relief effort possible. If you prefer to make your donation directly to the University of Miami-Global Institute, you can donate online by clicking here, or send your check made out to the “University of Miami-Global Institute” to P.O. Box 248073, Coral Gables, Florida, 33124. To support the relief effort through the United Way’s “Help Haiti Now,” click here.

The University of Miami has an established presence in the Central Plateau of Haiti through Project Medishare and its community health project as well as through a family medicine training program for Haitian physicians in the city of Cap-Haitien. The Miller School of Medicine is mobilizing those resources in Haiti to provide immediate assistance to people affected by the quake. At the same time, a UM medical team led by Dr. Barth Green is departing for Haiti today, bringing medical supplies and equipment with them.

This is just the beginning our response. Working with our Haitian Student Organization, the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, and our schools and colleges, we will continue to provide information on the different ways everyone can contribute to our coordinated efforts.

Working together, giving what we can, we will go a long way in reaching out to the people of Haiti when they need us the most.