messages from President Hockfield in response to Hurricane Katrina



Thank you from President Hockfield

"I am gratified by the creative and generous responses of the entire MIT community to the short- and long-term needs of those affected by Hurricane Katrina. These include ongoing student and staff fundraising efforts, faculty educational and research initiatives, and alumni contributions.

Our combined endeavors are yet another example of the application of MIT ingenuity and initiative that makes us all proud to be members of this community."    - Susan Hockfield, President

September 15, 2005; updated September 16, 2005

To Members of the MIT Community:

Over the past two weeks, our faculty, students and staff have come forward with an astonishing array of activities and ideas in response to Hurricane Katrina, and I couldn't be prouder of our community.

We are hosting 10 undergraduates and 15 graduate students as special visiting students for the fall term, and are waiving tuition and fees and providing housing for these students. In addition, we are looking into the possibility of making bench space available in our labs for some faculty, post docs and graduate students from sister institutions in the Gulf Coast region.

Our students have started clothing and food drives, a variety of fundraising activities (including direct donations, concerts, and community dinners), and a wealth of service projects in collaboration with the Public Service Center.

Ideas have been pouring in from faculty and staff as well, and I have appointed a Katrina Response Advisory Group to help coordinate these efforts, including educational and research initiatives that could make an important difference in the affected regions, as we work with colleagues there on lessons learned, on rebuilding and recovery efforts, and on ways to prevent such disasters in the future.

The members of the Advisory Group, which is convened by Vice President Kathryn Willmore, are Rafael Bras (Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering), Phillip Clay (Chancellor), Louis Fouche (Undergraduate Student, Chemical Engineering), Alice Gast (Vice President and Associate Provost for Research), Rachel Glennerster (Executive Director of the Poverty Action Lab, Economics), Lorna Gibson (Chair of the Faculty), Daniel Hastings (Director, Engineering Systems Division), Monty Krieger (Professor of Biology), Suzana Lisanti (Publisher of the MIT Homepage), Sally Susnowitz (Director of the Public Service Center), Lawrence Vale (Department Head, Urban Studies and Planning), Albert Wei (Graduate Student, Urban Studies and Planning.

Much of this activity is reflected on the Katrina response website, which is updated on a continuing basis. I urge you to use this website to contribute ideas and to learn about activities that you may want to join.

Again, thank you for all you are doing to put MIT's talents to work in this important cause.

Susan Hockfield

September 2, 2005

To MIT faculty, staff, students and alumni:

We are all shocked by the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina on the people of New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, and I know you join me in extending our deep sympathy to all those affected by the hurricane and its aftermath. We cannot yet fully appreciate the scope of this disaster, but it is clear that the assistance and expertise of everyone will be needed to help our fellow citizens to recover from this disaster. The vast majority of those in need are in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, but some are in our own community - MIT students and alumni from those areas, and our faculty and staff with loved ones there.

This week, even as we welcome our newest students to campus, we have been busy developing programs and protocols to assist members of the MIT family in need, and discussing ways in which we can contribute to the relief and rebuilding efforts. Please contact MIT's Public Service Center if you are interested in developing or joining in an activity to assist in the relief efforts.

MIT's mission is grounded in service to society, and in the weeks and months ahead, we will be looking to our faculty for ideas and ways to bring our talents to bear on the enormous challenge of rebuilding these communities.

About 90 MIT students are from the region, and we are reaching out to them through their housemasters, deans and departments to offer support and advice in making it through this terribly difficult time. Any undergraduate students who have concerns related to the aftermath of the hurricane on themselves or their families should feel free to get in touch with Dean Robert Randolph ( or 617-258-5484) for help in sorting through their needs and who might best assist them. Graduate students should contact Dean Blanche Staton ( or 617-253-4869).

Similarly, we want to be as supportive as possible to members of the faculty and staff who may need to deal with family circumstances relating to the hurricane, and will be making advice and assistance available to them as well.

In the meantime, we are accepting special applications from students whose educational plans have been interrupted by this disaster. We will evaluate such applications on a case-by-case basis. We are asking all such students, undergraduate or graduate, to first contact the MIT Admissions Office at 617-253-4791 for a special application form (PDF) for visiting students. Graduate inquiries will be sent to the relevant department for decision.

These are first steps. We welcome your ideas and suggestions for how we, individually and as an institution, can help the people of the Gulf Coast region pull through the immediate disaster and reconstruct their communities and their lives.


President Susan Hockfield