University Business - March 2008 - (Page 14)

BEHIND the NEWS Union U Sets Its Sights on Recovery ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEIR CAMPUS SUS tained heavy damage from a February 5 tornado, officials at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., began a strategy for assessment, recovery, and rebuilding. Classes at the Christian liberal arts university were scheduled to resume on February 20, says news director Tim Ellsworth, “and given the extent of the damage to campus, we’re thrilled with that timetable.” He adds, “We’re just trying to make decisions on where we are going forward. There’s a lot of damage on campus, and we are just trying to make decisions and do the best we can for the students and everyone involved.” • COMMUNICATION EFFORTS. In the hours leading up to the tornado, Union’s Resident Life Team monitored weather reports and sent updates to students through an intercom system. Later they led students down to the lower levels of the buildings. After the tornado struck, some students were trapped in rubble; as of press time in mid-February, five were still in the hospital with serious injuries. No deaths were reported. Officials first sent news reports of the tornado’s damage through traditional media sources and then launched an emergency blog, according to Ellsworth. As the emergency phase of the disaster concluded, daily information was posted on two websites:, and Union’s main site, A Union Facebook site also carried information, along with supportive messages and offers of assistance from the public. • ASSESSMENT. Seventeen campus buildings were damaged in some form or another. Approximately 40 percent of residence halls were destroyed, while another 40 percent were severely damaged. Academic and administrative buildings have been affected as well. Union got hit with damaging storms in 2001 and 2002 but, notes Ellsworth, it was nothing like this. While an initial assessment team from TLM Associates, also in Jackson, found damage to each of the several buildings designed by the firm, they were “structurally fine,” reports architect Ginger U Residence halls on campus were most damaged by the tornado, which hit the surrounding parking lots head on as well. French. Newer campus buildings were designed to withstand “high earthquake”; those measures don’t account for possible tornadoes but mean the buildings can withstand strong winds, she explains. Ground had recently been broken on a new residence hall, but a structure had not yet been started on the site. TLM was not involved in designing the residence halls, which were older buildings. • BACK TO BUSINESS. Students have been allowed back on campus to pick up personal items. For buildings that were considered unsafe for entry, recovery teams bagged undamaged belongings. A local inn owned by a Baptist church will house 300 students through this December. Another 350 students will live in undamaged residential life buildings on campus. About 250 students have secured off-campus housing. Union expects to place about 200 students in the homes of Union faculty, staff, and friends. Two other IHEs located within five miles of Union did not suffer any damage, attesting to the unpredictable nature of tornadoes. Fred Zuker, president of Lambuth University, a private institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church, says student housing was offered but was not needed, and the administration is standing by to offer other assistance as needed. A prayer service was held on February 7 on behalf of all the victims. Administrators at Jackson State Community College have offered classSOUND BITE room space, as well as the use of other offices and technology, says spokese’d like to create an alternative, so that when woman Heather Kennedy. In addition, students graduate they don’t have to move into faculty and staff are coordinating with the Red Cross on collections for the their parents’ garages or into their old rooms. greater Jackson community. —Univer—Dowling College (N.Y.) president Robert Gaffney on building housing for alumni. ‘W ‘ sity Business staff 14 | March 2008 ASSOCIATED PRESS

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - March 2008

University Business - March 2008
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
Editor's Note
Stats Watch
Sense of Place
EduComm Insert
Financial Aid
Money Matters
Human Resources
Higher One Insert
Community College
Cadets on Campus
Keeping an Eye on the Network
Sizing Up Second Life
Endowment Management
What's New
Calendar of Events
End Note

University Business - March 2008