Southern University in New Orleans Gets a Partner

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in late August of 2005 the campus of Southern University was flooded. The historically black university is still operating out of 445 trailers. Total enrollment is now about 2,300, less than 65 percent of the level that existed prior to the hurricane. Academic programs have been cut and faculty positions have been terminated. The university is not expected to move back to its permanent campus until the fall of 2008.

But some help is on the way. Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro has agreed to become an academic partner with Southern University. Under the plan, courses conducted in Tennessee will be videoconferenced to the New Orleans campus. Southern University students will be able to spend a semester or a year at Middle Tennessee State. Research and training of Southern University faculty may also take place in Tennessee.

What does Middle Tennessee State stand to gain? The university hopes to increase racial diversity at its Tennessee campus and to recruit Southern University undergraduates to attend graduate school in Tennessee. Blacks make up 12.3 percent of the 20,000-member undergraduate student body at MTSU.