DATE: September 27, 2001
Because of the extraordinary events of the past two weeks, I have chosen to focus this meeting’s Campus Report on some of the many ways in which the MSU-Bozeman campus community responded to its students, faculty and staff and to its responsibilities as a university and as a state institution. MSU is part of the Montana and Bozeman communities, but a part, the majority of whose members are a long way from the families and other sources of support that would normally protect and sustain them.
· MSU-Bozeman’s Emergency Response Team was convened by Vice President for Student Affairs Allen Yarnell early on the morning of Tuesday, September 11 and at several subsequent times over the next few days, to direct the institution’s response to the terrorist attacks in areas from student safety and the continuation of classes and research to public information, the planning of a memorial service and facility integrity. The Team also included, as time allowed, Bozeman City Manager Clark Johnson and representatives of Bozeman’s Department of Public Safety. The Chief of University Police, Roger Rippy, represented the campus in response planning at the city and county levels.
· Montana State University students studying abroad continue to see obvious signs of tightened security around them, but say they are feeling safe. Nick Myers, MSU‑Bozeman study abroad coordinator, and the entire International Education staff, have been keeping tabs on the needs and safety of MSU‑Bozeman's 83 students now studying overseas. Myers said he has been keeping in touch with students via e‑mail, and monitoring the recommendations of the U.S. State Department. He said international programs around the country were sharing information about how best to provide support for students abroad.
· MSU's one international exchange program in a Moslem country is with Al Alakhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, where, during a joint Christian/Moslem ceremony of remembrance, the university's president, Benmoktar Benabdellah, termed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 "dreadful and barbarous acts which violate all human principles and values." A visitor to the Bozeman campus within the last year, President Benmoktar immediately sent a letter to President Gamble expressing his grief over the tragedies and promising to ensure the safety of MSU students on the campus.
· Over 2500 members of the MSU-Bozeman community attended a Ceremony of Prayer and Remembrance on Friday, September 14. The overflow crowd filled all the Ballrooms. Once all the chairs were taken, the audience sat on the floor and stood around the perimeter, spilling over to the SUB's halls and Union Market, where sound from the ceremony was piped. President Geoff Gamble noted that in the days following the September 11 terrorist attacks, “...we are all New Yorkers, we are all Northern Virginians and Pennsylvanians.” Beginning his speech with a quote from D.H. Lawrence likening tragedy to a strong acid that dissolves all but gold of truth, Gamble told the crowd that the truth was that the Bozeman campus community had reacted with "courage, civility and compassion." It has happened, he said, in blood drives and sales of purple ribbons to benefit survivors and families of those killed and in the support and respect that members of the community have afforded one another.
· Several MSU students have been activated to serve in the National Guard and the activation of additional students is anticipated. Faculty and the Registrar's Office have been notified and they and the Dean of Students Office are fielding questions from individual students and parents about procedures and future plans.
· Montana State University‑Bozeman hosted a panel of scholars and experts in a public forum on the subject of "Searching for Meaning in Times of National and International Crisis" on Sunday, September 23, in the Strand Union Building Ballrooms on the MSU Campus. Members of the forum panel included scholars and experts in the fields of international relations, the history of the Middle East, specialists in U.S. military history as well as the history of American race relations and human psychology. The forum was broadcast live over Yellowstone Public Radio whose footprint reaches from Cut Bank to Broadus and includes most of northern Wyoming.
· A rapid and substantial response to the need for blood following the tragedies of September 11 resulted in a request from campus officials to wait for the next MSU drive. Red Cross officials and Director of Student Health, Jim Mitchell noted that the need for blood will continue for weeks and months after the terrorism tragedies. "MSU blood drives are coordinated by the ASMSU Wellness Coalition chaired by student Eileen Fisher," Mitchell said. "Fisher worked hard on this week’s blood drive and I think this is an excellent example of students stepping forward in a time of community and national need."
· On Monday, September 24, MSU’s International Students Organization (ISO) forwarded to President Gamble, a message, “...expressing our deepest sympathy for the families and friends of those affected by the tragedy of September 11.” “ ...people of all religions, nations, and creeds have come together in solidarity all around the world.” “We, the ISO, share their sentiments.”
· Finally, and unrelated to the events of September 11, I wanted to note that Tom Stump, who has served in the position of Vice President for Administration and Finance, has agreed to assume the critical position of Director of Auxiliaries on the Bozeman campus. Stump’s portfolio includes residence halls, family and graduate housing, University Food Service, The Strand Union Building, Student Activities, Conference Services and Sports Facilities. I will not immediately search for a successor for Stump, but will take the opportunity to analyze MSU’s financial operations and how that division should best be organized. The vacancy in Auxiliaries was created when Glenn Lewis moved to the position of Interim Director of Athletics, a position from which he will retire.