Carnegie Corporation Commits $14 Million To Revitalize New Orleans’ Intellectual Infrastructure In Wake Of Hurricane Katrina

Grantees in this story



George Soule, Carnegie Corporation, 212-207-6344
Karen Celestan, Dillard University, 504-816-4800
Mike Strecker, Tulane University, 504-865-5210
Warren Bell, Xavier University, 504-520-75684

Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York, announced today that the foundation has committed $14 million to help New Orleans build and retain the intellectual capital necessary to participate and succeed in the global knowledge economy. The Corporation’s investment in the city’s intellectual infrastructure—its institutions of higher education and K-12 teacher pool—is intended to underscore the importance of education to the city’s economic revitalization.

Carnegie Corporation has awarded grants of $2 million to Dillard University, $5 million to Tulane University and $4 million to Xavier University of Louisiana. The grants are one of the largest commitments of private funds to support higher education in post-Katrina New Orleans. Each of the universities incurred significant hurricane-related damage and losses and will use the new funds to focus on development, retention and hiring of displaced and new faculty; recruitment and retention of new students; resumption of critical strategic planning initiatives; and ensuring the availability of adequate financial aid.

A $1 million grant to Teach for America, the national corps of recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools, will help the organization to triple the size of its New Orleans teacher corps over the next three years.

Today’s announcement of grants by Carnegie Corporation follows a $2 million grant announced in June 2007 to the Broadmoor Improvement Association for the reconstruction, restocking and refurnishing of the Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center, a building that serves as the historic Broadmoor neighborhood's learning, cultural and civic hub.

“New Orleans’ universities are a powerful engine of intellectual, cultural and scientific innovation and growth for the city and the nation,” said Vartan Gregorian. “Today, more than ever, New Orleans needs this engine to prepare students to think conceptually and perform competently in business and the professions, and to prepare a technically skilled workforce capable of contributing to the city’s long-term economic vitality.”

“Dillard, Tulane and Xavier represent tangible manifestations of the recovery of New Orleans. They also are powerful symbols of the extraordinary value that the city and the nation place on human intellect, culture, education, learning and knowledge,” said Richard W. Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education in the Clinton Administration and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Corporation.
One of the strongest signs that New Orleans’ universities are regaining their strength is the increase in the number of matriculating freshmen. Dillard enrolled 260 freshmen in August, compared with 185 last year and 150 in August 2005. Xavier’s freshman class has increased by 45 percent to 671 students this year from 447 last year. And Tulane’s freshman class of 1,332 is a 51 percent increase above last year’s incoming class of 882.

All three universities supported by Carnegie Corporation have been back in operation for many months, yet each continues to repair and replace physical infrastructure and human capital, a process that will take years.

With its funds from Carnegie Corporation, Dillard University will recruit 17 faculty members in three critical areas: Education and Psychological Studies, Social Sciences and the Humanities. Hurricane Katrina not only devastated the campus but led to the departure of more than half the student body. In spring 2006, the university established temporary classrooms, administrative offices and housing at a local hotel. Dillard’s campus in the historic Gentilly neighborhood re-opened earlier this year.

“Colleges and universities are crucial to the city’s post-Katrina restructuring effort. Higher education will equip women and men to contribute to the creation of a boundless and successful future for both the local and global community,” said Dr. Marvalene Hughes, President of Dillard University. “Dillard’s academic excellence and deep dedication to New Orleans is evident in our students’ public service and the contribution of the school’s graduates to the revitalization of the city and region in areas raging from medicine and government to law and the arts.”

Support from Carnegie Corporation will contribute to Tulane’s renewal efforts, which include a re-dedication to building a world-class educational and research institution, and an emphasis on better understanding and participating in the growth and development of the city’s urban communities. Faculty, students and staff at Tulane, as at other institutions of higher education in New Orleans, have been deeply involved in rebuilding and recovery on their respective campuses and within the broader community.

“By attracting students and researchers from across the country to live and work in New Orleans, by providing the forces for one of the largest volunteer efforts in our nation's history and through their critical scholarship and research, New Orleans universities—among the first institutions to re-open after Hurricane Katrina—are proving to be the economic and intellectual underpinning of the city's recovery,” said Scott Cowen, President of Tulane University. “New Orleans universities are playing an unprecedented role in the recovery of the city in a manner never before expected of institutions of higher education.”

Xavier’s $4 million grant will allow the nation’s only historically Black, Catholic university to recruit new and retain current faculty while also ensuring the availability of adequate student financial assistance. The school’s storm-related losses exceeded $90 million due to physical damage, lost tuition and scholarship revenue—a devastating sum for a school with an endowment of $52 million. The loss was compounded when the U.S. government froze Xavier’s financial aid accounts, thus removing its primary source of revenue.

“The tremendous support from Carnegie Corporation will allow Xavier to continue to attract and educate deserving students,” said Norman Francis, President of Xavier University. “Additionally, it will allow us to attract and retain key faculty, while embracing the many initiatives that are critical to the continued recovery of our neighboring communities. Higher education can—and must—serve as a catalyst in the city of New Orleans' path to recovery.”

By 2010, Teach for America plans to nearly triple the 130 corps members currently serving in Greater New Orleans. The planned increase of teachers dedicated to serving in the region will both broaden and deepen the impact on student achievement and the overall education system, ultimately leading to a stronger, more vibrant New Orleans.

“In New Orleans, we have an unprecedented opportunity—because of the commitment and vision of local leaders and of philanthropists and educators nationally—to build an excellent and equal public education system that serves as the foundation for a prosperous and thriving city,” said Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach For America. “We are committed to doing everything we can to support this effort because of the tremendous needs and the possibility of creating an exceptional school system that serves as a model for the rest of the country.”

Vartan Gregorian added: “To sustain this city, we need schools with quality teachers who are equipped to prepare their students—especially low-income, historically underserved groups—to graduate with the academic preparation required to gain admission to, and succeed in college. The types of jobs that will help revive this city—and offer decent livelihoods to its people—will be far more technical, requiring substantially higher levels of literacy and mathematics for problem solving. To benefit from and contribute to a growing knowledge-based economy, young people must be prepared for higher education.”

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." For more than 95 years the Corporation has carried out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy by building on his two major concerns: international peace and advancing education and knowledge. As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation will invest more than $85 million this year in nonprofits to fulfill Mr. Carnegie's mission, "to do real and permanent good in this world." The Corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $2.5 billion on September 30, 2006.