May 6, 1997 - MnSCU addresses flood-related problems facing students and staff in NW Minnesota
Contact: Melinda Voss, (651) 296-9443, email@example.com
As flood waters recede in the northwestern part of the state, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) has taken a number of steps to address myriad flood-related problems in the campus communities of East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Granite Falls, Bemidji and Thief River Falls.
Students, employees and educational programs at Minnesota West Community and Technical College-Granite Falls, Moorhead State University and Northwest Technical College-East Grand Forks and Moorhead were impacted directly by flooding. The campuses of Bemidji State University, Northwest Technical College-Bemidji and Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls have provided evacuation services for the more devastated areas along the Red River.
A few campuses were closed during the peak of the flooding although none has reported any serious damage to campus facilities. Students and staff at all these institutions have been engaged in volunteer efforts, sandbagging, working in shelters and feeding programs for victims of the flood.
Chief among the MnSCU flood relief efforts are programs to help students resume their educations. "We are doing everything possible to help students whose lives have been disrupted by the flood get back on their feet and back to campus," said MnSCU Chancellor Judith Eaton. "The system is working closely with government agencies and the Minnesota Legislature in these efforts."
The MnSCU flood relief strategy for students seeks legislative appropriations for the following:
Direct student support funding. MnSCU is providing up to $500 each for students in need at the affected institutions to help them to return to school in the summer or the fall of 1997. The support does not reduce financial aid awards.
Academic flexibility summer and fall 1997. MnSCU channeled additional instuctional expenses and payroll funds into these institutions for expanded courses in the summer and fall sessions, so students can re-enroll in courses missed or not completed during the spring term.
Future academic offerings. MnSCU also earmarked funds for new training initiatives needed in the five affected communities for rebuilding, workforce development and economic development. MnSCU will work in conjunction with Minnesota Computer Education Planning System (MnCEPS), an Internet program providing information on education and training programs, workforce preparation, expected employment growth by occupation and job opportunities.
Flood-relief appropriation requests have been folded into the higher education bills now in conference committee in the Minnesota Legislature. Any unused funds will be returned to the state.
Chancellor Eaton said that each flood-impacted MnSCU college and university will have a Presidential Emergency Flood Contingency Fund for use on campus or in their communities. The $50,000 discretionary fund may be used for any flood purpose, other than for cash assistance to individuals, including expenses incurred by institutions during the flood for rescheduled work assignments, communication costs, equipment, supplies, or off-site instructional activities.
In coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Assistance (FEMA) and with state agencies, MnSCU is working to ensure that employees, as well as students, receive eligible federal and state funding for building repairs and other flood-related needs. MnSCU has offered emergency leave pay and financial support for use during leave for employees to deal with personal circumstances.
Thousands of MnSCU students, faculty and staff have assisted with flood relief efforts. Among the extraordinary campus efforts identified by Chancellor Eaton were these:
- Northland Community and Technical College, Thief River Falls, has become the temporary home for an East Grand Forks nursing home that was forced to evacuate. The college has accommodated 125 nursing home patients and nearly 80 nursing home employees since the evening of April 18. Northland nursing students have assisted.
- Hundreds of students, faculty and staff from Moorhead State University and Northwest Technical College-Moorhead played a significant role in flood control efforts in the Fargo-Moorhead area, filling literally hundreds of thousands of sandbags to protect the dikes in the Fargo-Moorhead area. These schools have continued volunteer efforts by helping flood evacuees at feeding stations and emergency centers.
- Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College-Bemidji have assisted the more than 3,800 people from Grand Forks and East Grand Forks who were evacuated to the Bemidji area. Bemidji State has provided temporary housing to evacuees since April 21, and a feeding site on campus, staffed by student volunteers, has served thousands of meals to evacuees. Bemidji State and Northwest Tech students, faculty and volunteers built and maintained a computer clearinghouse linking all the Emergency Operations Centers throughout the flood-stricken region so they could communicate with one another.
- Northwest Technical College-Moorhead is a focal point for donations of money, clothing, foodstuffs and supplies for flood relief. Contributions may be mailed to NTC Flood Relief, c/o Carla Braaten, Northwest Technical College, 1900 28th Avenue South, Moorhead, MN 56560.
MnSCU serves approximately 145,000 students at its state universities, community colleges, technical colleges and comprehensive community and technical colleges. The system includes 53 campuses around the state, plus the Akita campus in Japan.