Faculty pool ideas for Katrina assistance


The MIT faculty has responded to the crises left in Hurricane Katrina's terrible wake with many ideas for the immediate relief and long-term recovery of the Gulf Coast.

To make the best use of Institute resources and to nurture the spirit of collaboration across disciplines, Chancellor Philip Clay launched an initiative this week to canvass the faculty for their individual interests, areas of expertise and projects that relate to any aspect of recovery for the devastated areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Clay's initiative is a primary task of the Katrina Response Advisory Group, which was appointed by MIT President Susan Hockfield, and is convened by Vice President Kathryn Willmore.

"MIT's mission is grounded in service to society, and in the weeks and months ahead, we will be looking to our faculty for ideas and ways to bring our talents to bear on the enormous challenge of rebuilding these communities," Hockfield wrote in a Sept. 15 letter to the community.

Clay described his goal as coordinating information about "professional interests or expertise related to the hurricane and its aftermath and making this information available within the MIT community so that we can make the most effective use of our knowledge and skills."

The chancellor is seeking information from faculty members in four main areas -- personal expertise and interests; ongoing research or service activities relating to the hurricane and its aftermath or ideas for such activities; courses, workshops, symposia or ideas for ongoing educational activities on topics related to Katrina; and contacts with organizations or academics in the Gulf Coast communities with whom MIT might collaborate.

Faculty responses will be posted on a section of the Katrina web site that will be accessible only to members of the MIT community.

"Our intent is to make it easier for people with similar interests to more easily find each other and develop joint projects. This is really an opportunity for 'mind and hand' to come together in helping our society recover and learn from this extraordinary event," Clay wrote in his letter to the faculty, distributed by e-mail on Sept. 15.

For more information on MIT's activities on behalf of the Gulf Coast's recovery, go to the Katrina response web site, web.mit.edu/katrina/, which is updated on a continuing basis.

Katrina Response Advisory Group members are Clay, Rafael Bras (professor of civil and environmental engineering), Louis Fouche '07, Alice Gast (vice president and associate provost for research), Rachel Glennerster (executive director of the Policy Action Lab), Lorna Gibson (chair of the faculty), Daniel Hastings (director, Engineering Systems Division), Monty Krieger (professor of biology), Suzana Lisanti (publisher of the MIT homepage), Sally Susnowitz (director of the Public Service Center), Lawrence Vale (department head, Urban Studies and Planning) and Albert Wei (graduate student).

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 21, 2005 (download PDF).


Topics: Faculty, Volunteering, outreach, public service

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