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UMFK campus community pulling together to provide assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina

September 2, 2005

NR05133

As a member of the University of Maine System, and in the spirit of brotherhood with their Cajun cousins in Louisiana, the University of Maine at Fort Kent campus community, founded in 1878 to serve the needs of the Acadian and French-speaking population of northernmost Maine, is rallying to provide assistance to the victims of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.

With the start of classes at UMFK this past week, faculty, staff and students are developing several ways to help, including special fundraisers and opportunities for students and faculty at institutions directly impacted by the natural disaster.

"This tragedy is hitting especially close to home on our campus and in the St. John Valley region, given the historic and ancestral ties people of this region have with the Cajun people of Louisiana, dating back to the great deportation of 1755," said UMFK President Richard Cost. "Our university community is known for being a close-knit family, and our people are rallying to help the extended family in need."

UMFK, along with the entire University of Maine System announced that any student " from Maine or from any other state" currently enrolled in college or university that postponed or terminated classes due to hurricane-related damage or conditions are invited to enroll under "visiting student" status.

The University's admissions office has posted a notice on a web site frequented by college admissions counselors, which both expresses the University's concern and offers assistance to displaced students.

"The University of Maine at Fort Kent extends heartfelt sympathies to our Acadian brothers and sisters who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. As a fully bilingual English-French institution, we would like to invite any displaced university students who intended to attend schools in the hurricane-affected areas to contact the admissions office at UMFK for information on how to enroll in our institution in northern Maine," wrote Doug Barley, UMFK admissions director in a posting on the National Association of College Admissions Counselors website.

The Fort Kent campus community is further extending its assistance to displaced faculty at institutions that will not be holding classes this semester because of hurricane-related damage.

Specifically, UMFK will make available free room and board and a visiting professor stipend to one faculty member working at a college or university unable to proceed with classes this fall. The offer will be posted by the human resources office in the coming days.

If a displaced faculty member applies for the opportunity, they will assist current UMFK faculty and be called upon to provide guest lectures.

"As a campus community we wanted to extend our support to those in need. As an academic community, we are offering assistance to both students and faculty. As a community of caring people, many of whom share a unique cultural bond with the people of Louisiana, our hearts go out." said John Murphy, UMFK vice president for administration.

The University and local community will have the opportunity to demonstrate their show of support for the victims of Hurricane Katrina at two events coordinated by members of the UMFK faculty on Friday, September 23.

A "Brown Bag Theatre" luncheon, coordinated by Joe Zubrick, associate professor of theatre and oral communications, is planned for that day at 12:15 p.m. in the Fox Auditorium. Participation is open to anyone interested in reading poetry or performing a piece-dance, scene, or musical selection.

For more information or to participate, contact Zubrick at (207) 834-7591.

The noontime theatre performing arts happening is intended to provide additional publicity for a Coffeehouse fundraiser the same evening.

The latter event will be held on Friday, September 23 at 7:00 p.m. in the Bengal's Lair. It will feature performances by faculty, students, staff and community members.

Coordinating the project are Scott Brickman, associate professor of music and chair of the arts and humanities division, Katharine Harrington, assistant professor of French, and Dave Hobbins, professor of forestry and environmental studies.

In recognition of the Acadian connection between the St. John Valley and Louisiana, the three organizers are planning an Acadian theme for the event by encouraging participants to perform in French if possible, and by selling ployes.

Proceeds from the refreshments and from admission at the door (a suggested $5 donation) will be forwarded to the region.

More information on the coffee house will be released in the coming week. In the meantime, for more information or to participate, contact Brickman at 834-7506, Harrington at 834-7592 or Hobbins at 834-7614.