American Universities Rush to the Front Lines in Haiti


Many American colleges and universities have longtime connections to aid work in Haiti and since the devastating earthquake earlier this week, are providing financial assistance and on the ground emergency relief. As the article below cites, “The largest effort to put teams of university doctors on the ground has come from the University of Miami, which began sending medical professionals to Haiti the day after the earthquake.” Because of its proximity to Haiti, Miami has dispatched several flights each day back and forth, transporting doctors and supplies to Port-au-Prince and bringing severely injured patients to Miami hospitals.

The program director for emergency and disaster management and homeland security at American Military University, Christopher M. Reynolds, said, “I knew of more than a dozen students and faculty members in Haiti, doing such work as logistics operations and search-and-rescue missions through the military. The university’s students get course extensions on the basis of their deployment papers.” Similarly, Wallace E. Boston Jr., president of the parent American Public University system, wrote the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pledge their support. He launched an e-mail to more than 1,000 students and alumni informing them that he was creating a list where people can submit their skills and availability to FEMA. Dr. Kurt K. Rhynhart, a general surgeon at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, said in an e-mail message from Haiti, “I have never seen so much poverty and am humbled by it,” “But the people are the most friendly, proud, and thankful I have ever met. I am certainly glad I came and am sure this won’t be the last time.”

Disasters like this are strong reminders that we live in a global world. As educators, we play a key role in helping students envision the difference they can make as future professionals. Students tend to be more motivated and engaged in the classroom when they understand how education connects to careers and perhaps more importantly, why we work. While everyone needs a job to support themselves and their families, it’s the ability to use our gifts and talents to help other people that give real meaning to college and career success. Let’s champion our students to do and be their best. There’s a big world out there that needs them.


The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 21, 2010
American Universities Rush to the Front Lines in Haiti
By Andrea Fuller

Brian W. Loggie, a professor of surgery at the Creighton University School of Medicine, has gotten little sleep in the past week.

Days after a devastating magnitude-7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti, Dr. Loggie and several of his colleagues arrived at a medical facility in the Dominican Republic, 30 miles from Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. Since then, they have been operating on victims and trying to manage the flow of the hundreds of people overwhelming the facility.

“What we’ve been seeing are just many, many, many patients, a lot of orthopedic injuries, a lot of open fractures that are infected,” Dr. Loggie said in a telephone interview. “We’re seeing so many amputations.”

There are dozens more doctors like Dr. Loggie spread across Port-au-Prince and nearby towns, performing surgeries in makeshift hospitals and calming frantic patients. While many American colleges are providing financial assistance to Haiti, some, like Creighton, have sent teams of nurses and surgeons.

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