College Visit: Hurricane Katrina forces Dillard University to lay off 59 percent of its faculty and

As is the case with the rest of Louisiana, poor individuals and minorities were most severely affected by Katrina. Although Louisiana State University (LSU) was forced to lay off up to 5,000 employees at its New Orleans campus, Dillard and comparable institutions, like Southern University of New Orleans, were more harshly affected because they cannot afford to pay for repairs.

According to The Chronicle, Dillard’s president, Marvalene Hughes, wrote that the university had investigated all possible solutions to minimize its cuts. One alternative was to use its business-interruption insurance. “Since this catastrophic natural disaster wreaked unparalleled damage to our campus, Dillard University has done everything possible to keep all faculty and staff on our payroll-and has for the past two months,” he said. “Dillard did not have any operating revenue during that time due to closing, but was able to retain payroll through other alternatives.”

Even though Dillard is low on money, supplies, faculty and students, the student-teacher ratio will remain at 14:1 since enrollment is expected to drop. Yet, there is not enough money available to pay faculty since the school is being forced to allocate what money is left to try to reconstruct its campus. According to The Chronicle, Katrina caused an estimated $400 million in damages at Dillard and flooded buildings for three weeks in eight-feet high water.

Currently, Dillard is relocating faculty and students to nearby Tulane University for the spring semester. In addition, the university is arranging accommodations for students and faculty alike to live on a cruise ship during the spring semester.

Dillard officials are now attempting to help “displaced” faculty members find other jobs, as well as lobby Congress for additional funds to rehire some of its employees. The majority of employees have no homes left amidst the wreckage and have no incentive to return to work.

In addition to Dillard, LSU and Tulane are also suffering from Katrina. Although LSU desires to move its medical program back to New Orleans, it may suffer from a lack of patients because New Orleans is now a ghost town. In addition, Tulane has completely scrapped any notion of re-establishing its medical school in New Orleans after flooding destroyed its electrical generators and circuits. It has shifted its students and faculty to Baylor College of Medicine, an institution based in Houston.