Message From The President - Baruch College

November 5, 2012

To the Baruch College Community,

The events of last week, beginning with the immediate effects of the Hurricane Sandy super storm and continuing with the extensive power outage experienced by a large section of Manhattan and many parts of the Outer Boroughs, were historic.  I want, first, to acknowledge that many members of the Baruch College community—faculty, staff and students—have had their and their family’s lives profoundly disrupted by the extensive flooding and wind involved with the storm.  In some cases, people have had their houses and apartments seriously damaged or even destroyed.  To all of you who are in this situation, or who have friends or family who are suffering, please know that all of us at Baruch are there to support you and to help in any way that we can.  Moreover, last Friday, Chancellor Goldstein announced the establishment of the Hurricane Sandy Relief Council, and Baruch will be an active participant in this fundraising effort.

I also wanted to say how extraordinarily proud and grateful I am to the amazing staff of the College, people from Public Safety, the professional trades, and custodial services, who worked tirelessly and often creatively through the storm and its aftermath.  As you know, the College was in the part of Manhattan that lost power on Monday evening; yet we nevertheless served for four days as an official shelter site for the City of New York.  Throughout this period, up to 600 people were living in the gyms and first floor of the Newman Vertical Campus, despite the fact that all we had was back-up power from emergency generators for partial lighting.  In addition, one of these generators failed several times, and it was only through the valiant efforts of our staff, which included hauling fuel by hand from the basement of the Library building to the roof, that it was re-started.

The staff worked and slept on-site, working 12 hour shifts.  Few could go home to their families, because there was no public transportation and the bridges and tunnels were closed.  Through their efforts, we were able to house, feed and care for the medical needs of those in the shelter, until they were finally moved on Thursday to other sites where the power was on.  I spent a good deal of time at the College throughout the week, and I couldn’t be more proud of what our people accomplished.  Once again, the “can do” attitude of Baruch staff—and of all New Yorkers—was on display, as it has been in other recent crises and tragedies that the City has endured.

Baruch College is open for business today, and Interim Provost John Brenkman will soon announce a modified academic calendar for the remainder of the Fall semester that will enable us to make up the class time that was lost during the shut-down.  I urge that if you know a member of the faculty or staff, or a student, who is dealing with the effects of this “storm of the century,” please offer them your support and assistance.  And if you interact with a member of the Baruch College staff who performed in such an exemplary fashion during the emergency, please offer them your thanks.

Mitchel Wallerstein
President, Baruch College

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