New Orleans' Black Colleges Begin the Long Road to Recovery

Four and half months after their campuses were flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Dillard University, Xavier University, and Southern University of New Orleans are back in business. Preliminary figures show that about 75 percent of the students who were enrolled at Xavier this past fall, before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, have returned to campus for the spring semester. "We’re rebuilding the university as an island in the city," says Norman Francis, president of the university. Francis calls the neighborhood surrounding the Xavier campus "dead."

At Southern University of New Orleans, FEMA trailers have been set up as classroom buildings. Students with no housing are temporarily being put up at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel.

More than half of Dillard University's 2,000 students have returned to New Orleans. About 80 percent of the returning students are being housed at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel. Because the hotel’s typical convention business has not returned and will not return in the foreseeable future, the hotel has rented out a third of its space to Dillard. Students receive free cable TV, have maid service twice a week, and have access to laundry facilities. The hotel provides three meals a day on weekdays and two on weekends. But pay-for-view movies and room service are not available to Dillard students. The hotel’s ballrooms have been converted into classroom space. Alcohol is prohibited on the Dillard campus in New Orleans but the Hilton’s bars remain open for business.


Copyright © 2006. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.