Lawrence welcomes Tulane student

Beth McHenry

No one can deny the hardships that the victims of Hurricane Katrina have faced, but this disaster has also uprooted the carefully laid plans of many who were not in the area when the tragedy occurred. Luckily, most residents escaped the difficulties of the aftermath, but many of them now face completely different circumstances and the challenges of making new choices. One example is the difficulty of selecting a temporary school, as students from Tulane University and Loyola University in New Orleans have had to do.
Many colleges and universities like Lawrence have been given the unique opportunity to assist uprooted students in continuing their education. In the words of President Beck, Lawrence, like most other schools, “wants to be welcome and supportive to at least a few students who have been displaced by this national disaster.”
Lawrence not only responded to inquiries about temporary enrollment, but also participated in statewide efforts by teaming up with the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and participated on the national level with the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
The goal of these organizations, at this point, is to match students with colleges that fit their interests. Part of this effort, said Beck, is determining “which students are seeking the kind of education we have to offer.”
Just as in admitting degree-seeking students, the admissions office attempted to help students find not only an opportunity to gain a few credits, but to find a fulfilling college experience, if only for a term. Dean of Admissions Steve Syverson said, “We tried to help them not pursue a knee-jerk reaction of enrolling anywhere they could enroll, but to think about their options carefully.”
Lawrence received six serious inquiries, but only one extra student: freshman Chris McGeorge who came partly because he had already been admitted to Lawrence for Fall Term 2005. According to Ken Anselment, director of admissions, Lawrence was limited in its ability to accept extra students because of the lack of available housing due to the larger-than-average freshman class this year.
McGeorge, who will attend Lawrence during fall term , or until Tulane is open for classes again, had barely arrived in New Orleans when Tulane President Scott Cowen announced that the university would be evacuated. “We were told to just take enough things with us for a few days because we’d be coming back,” says McGeorge. “My things are still in boxes sitting in my room at Tulane.”
After leaving Tulane, Lawrence was one of the first places McGeorge looked since it had been his second choice. He also contacted Boston University and Dartmouth College. All three universities were willing to accept McGeorge as a student, but on-campus housing was a problem at Boston and Dartmouth. “When Lawrence called and told me that they had a room for me, I figured it was meant to be.”
Although McGeorge, a native of Petoskey, Mich., is somewhat disappointed to be returning to the Midwest’s chilly autumn, he has found his stay at Lawrence “highly enjoyable” so far, complete with new friends, a positive atmosphere, and “ambrosia” from Peggy’s Caf.
McGeorge considers himself lucky not only to be welcomed at Lawrence, but also to have the unusual opportunity to “experience two premier institutions of higher learning” in his first year. However, he reminds us that his “temporary loss pales in comparison to the loss of life and destruction of homes and neighborhoods that others experienced. Everything worked out well for me and I can but consider myself fortunate to have ended up in a place so warm and welcoming as Lawrence.