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Letter to the Harvard community regarding Hurricane Katrina

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

All of us have been deeply saddened by the profound human suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina. Tens of thousands of people are now living in circumstances we never imagined possible. Our hearts go out to all the families and communities that have been directly affected by one of the most devastating natural disasters in our nation’s history.

Our own community is taking a number of steps to express our compassion and to provide resources to those in need. Many have already responded generously to a variety of relief efforts. To encourage members of our community who wish to make contributions, the University will match, up to $100, donations made to specified organizations by Harvard students, faculty, and staff. (Prior contributions will be eligible for matching upon presentation of a receipt.) By late Tuesday, September 6, a dedicated Web page will be available through to facilitate such contributions. The Web page will also provide information to our students, faculty, and staff on a variety of other efforts to assist victims of Katrina.

Meanwhile, a number of our schools are actively pursuing arrangements to enable displaced students to study at Harvard this fall. Among other examples, Harvard College intends to accept and waive tuition for up to 25 visiting students from areas affected by Katrina, and Harvard Law School is making similar plans, in cooperation with the Association of American Law Schools, for up to 25 law students from Tulane and Loyola-New Orleans. Other Harvard schools are pursuing further arrangements along these lines. Relevant information will be made available on the Web pages of the individual schools.

In addition, other Harvard resources will be brought to bear on the terrible problems created by Katrina. For instance, a new humanitarian initiative based at the School of Public Health will partner with the American Red Cross to coordinate the dispatch of teams of Harvard doctors and public health workers to the affected areas in the coming weeks and months. Our libraries will make their resources available to scholars whose work has been interrupted, and members of our preservation staff expect to collaborate with other institutions to assist in the recovery and preservation of important scholarly materials. Other such efforts are taking shape and will come into clearer focus as we learn more about how we can be most helpful.

Finally, our schools continue to seek out Harvard students and alumni who have been affected directly by this disaster. We are focused especially on ensuring contact with current students in need and considering what special assistance they may require at this difficult time.

Many thanks for what I am certain will be a heartfelt and meaningful response to the victims of this disaster, who are so deserving of our deepest compassion and concern.


Lawrence H. Summers