September 09, 2005

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LEWISBURG, Pa. - Students displaced by Hurricane Katrina and now attending Bucknell University as visiting students expressed gratitude to the university for its fast-track application process and for making room for them on campus.

Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell introduced six of the 20 visiting students at a press conference Friday afternoon held in the Elaine Langone Center.

In mobilizing Bucknell's quick response to enroll students to allow them to continue their education with as little interruption as possible, Mitchell said, "Our action should reflect clearly the words that we use to describe the kind of education here. The education that we offer here is one that is bound by compassion and civility. We had a responsibility to reach out to those who were affected by Hurricane Katrina."

And the students said they were grateful for the university's prompt response over a Labor Day weekend and the opportunity to be studying on the Patriot League school campus.

"The school has been great in accommodating us in every way possible. They've been great," said one student. "It has been stressful, but the school has done everything in its capabilities."

Paul Matthews, a native New Orleans resident and a senior at Tulane University, said, "Bucknell has truly been very generous to me. I don't have a home right now, but I feel Bucknell is my home currently."

Said another: "It's just starting to hit me. All these people reaching out. I'm just starting to really understand all these people wanting to help."

"I got here Saturday and my residence hall had a big surprise for me," said Michael Tonetti. "I walked in there and there were streamers and balloons all over and signs, `Welcome, Mike.' It's been a very welcoming atmosphere."

Throughout the country, colleges and universities have been reaching out to accommodate students in the hurricane-ravaged area. By one estimate, more than 75,000 students have had their educations interrupted by the Aug. 29 hurricane. Some no doubt will eventually return to their campuses in the southeastern states.

"The goal from Bucknell's perspective is to make sure their education is continuous," said the Bucknell president. "The only thing Bucknell is trying to do is make sure they than can continue as juniors or seniors or freshmen in such a way that allows them to not lose a year."



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