Drivel that cannot fit in a single panel comic.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Texas A&M - Galveston

The TAMU - Galveston students and faculty were very friendly and polite to me while I helped them get set up in a couple of classrooms. It made my day.

Below an article from the Eagle about the transfer of the Texas A&M - Galveston students:

A&M leaders estimate cost of Sea Aggie transfers at $37M
Repairing damage at Texas A&M University's branch campus in Galveston and moving the displaced students to College Station and housing them during the interim could cost more than $37 million, university officials said Thursday.

Administrators estimated preliminary damage and relocation costs at $34 million for Texas A&M at Galveston and another $3.5 million for the College Station campus, where 285 course sections have been added to accommodate the 1,572 displaced Sea Aggies.

The money ultimately will be paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, insurance and special item funding from the state, A&M officials said, noting that estimates already had been provided to the governor's office.

Administrators have said the relocation would be "cost-neutral" for students.

The Galveston campus was evacuated and closed down Sept. 10, just days before Hurricane Ike ravaged the Texas coast. A&M officials have said it would remain closed for the semester.

On Thursday, Texas A&M University President Elsa Murano and Galveston campus Vice President and Chief Executive Bowen Loftin updated the Texas A&M System Board of Regents on the effects of the hurricane. The update came less than two weeks after Ike pounded the coastal town and just one day after Galveston students began taking classes in Aggieland.

"To say that this is an unprecedented effort in higher education I think is absolutely the case. I don't think we know of any other situation [like it]," Murano told regents Thursday, the first day of their two-day meeting. "Nothing of this magnitude -- 1,572 students in a matter of less than two weeks."

Roughly 88 percent of the Galveston campus student body -- including its entire Corps of Cadets -- opted to relocate to College Station, and Loftin said he expected more to come. Others are taking classes via distance learning.

Loftin said he would begin contacting the remaining 200 or so students who have not been reached to see if there is any way the university can serve them. Those who can't continue this semester will be allowed to withdraw without penalty, and the tuition will be rolled over to the spring semester, when the campus is set to reopen, Loftin said.

"We put the students first," Loftin said. "That's the most important thing we could do."

More than 70 faculty members -- all but four of the total -- have signed on to teach classes in College Station, Loftin and Murano said.

Murano said the university decided against dispersing the Galveston students among existing course sections. Instead, she said, 285 new sections have been added to keep the students with their classmates and professors.

Of those sections, about a dozen will meet on nights and weekends, Murano said. Some are meeting in non-traditional spaces such as A&M United Methodist Church and St. Mary's Catholic Church, The Tradition at Northgate and Calloway House and even in Sbisa Dining Hall.

Murano said officials had secured 300 beds on campus and 1,200 rental units in the community for the visitors.

"To tell you it was a big undertaking is an understatement," Murano said, explaining that the relocation affected dozens of departments such as housing, transportation, dining, parking, billing, financial aid, medical services, counseling, communications and research.

"Everything you can think of, we needed to provide in a couple weeks or less," she said.

The College Station City Council also met on Thursday and unanimously agreed to allow city officials to be "more lenient" with residents who might be violating city ordinances by housing Galveston students. The ordinance prevents more than four unrelated people from living together.

During the board meeting, Loftin showed slides of the damage to the campus. The Sea Aggie Center and one of the dorms -- two of the weakest buildings on campus -- sustained significant damage. Other buildings, however, appeared unaffected by the storm.

All emergency repairs are complete, Loftin said. However, he said, there is some concern about the availability of student housing for the spring semester.

Loftin told the regents his dream was for the regents, together with Murano and A&M System Chancellor Mike McKinney, to be in Galveston in December, watching as the 100 or so graduating seniors walk the stage.

"That's the dream we have right now. I think we can do it," Loftin said as he displayed a photo taken before the storm of waves crashing over the seawall and onto a memorial erected after the deadly hurricane in 1900. "The Aggie Spirit, the spirit of Galveston, lives on."

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