By New Journal and Guide Staff
Hurricane Dorian may have killed at least 45 and left 70,000 people homeless, but it also forged a new partnership that will allow University of the Bahamas-North students to undertake the current semester of their school year at Hampton University without charge.
Hampton University recently entered into an agreement with the University of the Bahamas-North that will allow students who have been displaced by the hurricane to continue their education on HU’s campus. Specifically, these students will be able to attend free classes at Hampton for the fall 2019 semester, receive free room and board for one semester, and stay at Hampton once the semester is over at regular rates for tuition and fees.
“I think this agreement is something that can be helpful to a great number of students and families, and is part of something I’ve tried to do my entire career – helping people to achieve and meet their goals,” Dr. William R. Harvey, president, said in a recent statement.
A special connection between the two university presidents launched the agreement. Harvey said he phoned his friend, Rodney Smith, a former chief administrator at Hampton and now president of the University of the Bahamas, to check on him during the hurricane.
The next morning, Harvey said he called back and offered to provide students from the north campus with free room, board, and tuition for the current semester.
While Hampton already has more than 4,300 students enrolled, it is unclear how many Bahamas-North students will accept the offer since the University of the Bahamas has several campuses and satellite locations throughout the Bahamian archipelago, including on the hardest-hit islands Grand Bahama and Abaco, which were forced to close for more than a week because of the hurricane.
During an interview on MCNBC on Friday, Sept. 6, Dr. Harvey said he did not know the exact number of students HU would be able to assist, but the school would enroll as many as possible. Approximately 600 students were displaced as a result of Hurricane Dorian.
Lawrence Rigby, a citizen of the Bahamas who was student government president at Hampton University during the 2014-15 academic year, said, “Hampton has been the educational choice for many Bahamians over its long history. I am grateful to President Harvey and university leadership on this demonstration of kindness and humanity to my home in our time of need.”
According to news reports, Dorian hit Nova Scotia this past weekend as a post-tropical cyclone and still had hurricane-force winds. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses lost power in Canada; it may take days to restore service.