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Update from president Alastair Summerlee on University response to disaster in Asia

Friday, January 7, 2005

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Written by Alastair Summerlee

There are those in the University of Guelph community who have been directly or indirectly affected by the devastating natural disaster in South and Southeast Asia and East Africa. On behalf of the entire University, I would like to extend heartfelt condolences to them and to everyone touched by this catastrophe.

Our community joins with the millions of people around the world mourning the tremendous loss of human life. Our thoughts are with the families whose loved ones are still missing, with those who have lost their homes, and with the people bringing aid and support.

I encourage you to keep your colleagues at the University informed about members of our community who may be affected by recent events or who are involved in relief initiatives. You can also email me at . In addition, please share information about special events and/or fundraising activities with Communications and Public Affairs by calling ext. 56580 or email .

The University is continuing to work to determine if any of our students, faculty, staff or alumni are in the regions. Foreign Affairs Canada has set up a toll-free hotline, 1-800-606-5499, for Canadians trying to reach relatives or friends.

As the initial shock surrounding the recent events turns to grief, each of us will deal with this tragedy in different ways. The University is doing what it can to provide assistance by facilitating financial donations, providing counselling services and, in the future, offering the expertise of our faculty, staff and students.

Many members of the U of G community have already responded decisively in support of the relief efforts, and I commend them for their generosity. It is our hope that the massive groundswell of compassion will reach those most in need as rapidly as possible.

Actions being taken by the University:

  • The University is following the lead of the federal government and is flying its flags at half-mast through Jan. 8, when a national memorial service is scheduled to be held in Ottawa. Plans are also under way for the University community to gather and reflect on the disaster when students return to campus. Details will be posted on this website when they are available.
  • Foreign Affairs Canada has compiled a list of ways Canadians can help and is matching personal contributions for a limited time. The University is making the list available from this website, and community members are encouraged to explore contributing to these programs so that their support can be matched.
  • The University will be working with faculty and other researchers to assess what assistance U of G might provide in the short and long terms in the way of research and development expertise. Contact Anthony Clarke at .
  • Students directly affected by the disaster who have questions regarding registration or academic concerns should contact either Benny Quay, Centre for International Programs, , or Registrarial Services, Ext. 56045 or (undergraduate students) and Ext. 53481 or (graduate students).
  • Alumni who have been affected, or who have knowledge of members of the University community who have been affected, should contact Alumni Affairs at 1-888-266-3108 or .
  • For students or employees who may wish to seek personal counselling, the following services are available on campus:
Student Counselling Services, Ext. 53244
Employee Assistance Program for faculty and staff, Ext. 52133.
Multi-Faith Resource Team, Ext. 52390.
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