Special Message from the Interim President: Hurricane Harvey

August 30, 2017

Members of the Community,


The ongoing crisis brought on by the aftermath of the flooding in the greater Houston area has led us to close the university for the remainder of the week.   The university will reopen for normal operations on September 5, following the Labor Day holiday.

Students may return to campus this weekend and be prepared for classes to begin on September 5. The registration period has been extended through September 12th. Late registration fees will be waived. The academic calendar has been adjusted to accommodate this emergency situation. For more information, visit, http://www.pvamu.edu/registrar/academic-calendars/. Although the campus re-opens and classes begin on Tuesday, students who are not able to return to the campus because of safety and recovery concerns, should access their course syllabi and materials through eCourses.  Students are also encouraged to contact the department for any registration or schedule concerns.

We do not take this extraordinary step lightly. Many faculty, staff and students, along with their families, have suffered property damage and displacement, making it difficult to have the critical number of faculty and staff necessary to conduct routine business functions and classes on the Prairie View campus. We can well appreciate that most will have significant challenges in returning their lives to normal as they address the damage caused by the storm. Our concern for our colleagues and students, as well as the extended Houston area and Waller County communities cannot be overstated.

The heroism and generosity of so many who came to the aid of their neighbors during this period has inspired us all. Throughout this period, we have also received many statements of concern and offers of assistance for Prairie View from around the country. This support is welcome and enormously heartening. As we assess the damage to campus and receive more detailed reports from faculty, staff and students about the challenges they will face in the wake of the storm, we will offer specific suggestions as to how others can be of assistance in the challenging period to follow.

In the meantime, we are aware that the damage that so many in our Prairie View family have suffered is more than physical; it has reached into our sense of safety and comfort in a way that cannot easily be assuaged. To assist in rebuilding that sense of safety and well-being, the university is offering the following support:

Emergency Funds. Small grants of up to $500 are available to assist faculty, staff and students with emergency needs resulting from the storm.   Requests for such funds should be submitted to http://www.pvamu.edu/hurricane-harvey-assistance/. Please note that we will do all that we can to ensure timely processing of applications.

­Clothing Donations. Shelters and communities throughout the area are in need of clothing and supplies.   We are working with the Student Government Association to collect clothing and shoes for distribution to area shelters. Donations can be dropped off at the Student Government Association’s offices on the second floor of the Willie A. Tempton, Sr. Memorial Student Center (MSC) as well as at the City of Prairie View Fire Department at 44500 Business Highway 290, Prairie View.

Counseling. Those in need of counseling are encouraged to call the 24 hour Counseling Center Crisis Line at 936-553-0990.  Any student, faculty or staff will receive free counseling during this time of devastation.

In addition to the Crisis Hotline, the Psychology Department Clinic is open Wednesday and Thursday.  Appointments can be made by calling 936-261-5243 or emailing psychologyclinic@pvamu.edu. Interim Director, Dr. Lesajean Jennings, or a Student Therapist, will return the call to schedule an appointment.

We are exploring other ways to assist employees who are in critical need. We understand that the aftermath of this catastrophic event will continue to reverberate through our region for the foreseeable future. We will assess ongoing needs and, if warranted, identify additional emergency-based programs in the coming weeks.


As we begin preparations to start the fall semester, we know that a return to a sense of normalcy will be an important dimension of the healing that must take place.  I want to thank members of our community for the myriad ways in which you have reached out to help during this period. Our first responders in the fire department, health services, and the physical plant have done an extraordinary job. With a very limited staff working long hours, employees in auxiliary services, public safety, food services, student affairs and campus life have attended to the needs of students who remained on campus. By delaying our opening, we will continue to have limited staff on campus to provide needed services.  However, students on campus will continue to be accommodated.

Shortly before the storm, we welcomed an extraordinary new class to Prairie View. As I welcomed them, I thought of the magnitude of our task in modeling for them the values and aspirations that keep our community strong. I believe that they have now seen first-hand how much we care for them and how high our hopes are for their future. They have responded to this crisis as we would have hoped; with a sense of purpose and a laudable commitment to others. We know they will remain strong through the coming days.                  

Many faculty have been affected by the hurricane and the flooding left in its wake. We ask faculty who are not able to arrive safely on campus to work with department heads to ensure that syllabi and assignments are posted in eCourses.  The department head and Dean will ensure that classes are covered, syllabi posted, and assignments given until faculty are able to resume their duties. Researchers, especially those working in laboratories, should make adequate arrangements for specimens that can be lost due to a power outage.  Please contact the Academic Affairs office for any additional questions or assistance.

The greater Panther family and our dedicated alumni have inquired in record numbers about how they can assist in the university’s recovery efforts. We are grateful for their continued commitment and support. As we formulate the breadth of the university’s response, we will provide updates on our plans via our website at www.pvamu.edu and on social media. The unshakeable affection of alumni and supporters for this institution is particularly heartwarming in these difficult times.

Again, thank you for your help and dedication. I look forward to seeing everyone back on campus next week.


Ruth J. Simmons