Update From President Alastair Summerlee on University Response to Disaster in Haiti

January 20, 2010 - Campus Bulletin

Over this past week, I have been touched by the outpouring of concern and support shown by the University of Guelph community over the tremendous loss of human life caused by the devastating earthquakes in Haiti.

In the aftermath of the disaster, people have come forward to suggest events and activities to support various relief efforts in Haiti. It’s heartwarming to know that so many of our community members want to help. Given Guelph’s reputation for being a caring university committed to changing lives and improving life, it’s certainly fitting for us to help by raising money and providing other support.

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. In speaking to faculty, staff and students, I have found there is a desire to support both the immediate relief efforts and longer-term needs. It’s for this reason that, as a university, we have chosen to support two organizations: Doctors Without Borders for immediate medical support and Me to We, a social enterprise created by Guelph honorary degree recipients Craig and Marc Kielburger, who also founded Free the Children, the largest network of children helping children in the world. Information about their work is available online. Please consider supporting their efforts.

On Friday, students, faculty and staff will hold a vigil at noon in Branion Plaza to mourn those who have lost their lives in Haiti as a result of the earthquakes. It will include reflections and readings. Everyone is welcome to attend.

In addition to individual initiatives, numerous departments on campus are holding fundraising activities and events, including:

• The Department of Athletics will be holding 50/50 draws at its volleyball games on Friday and at its Frosty Mug Hockey event at the Sleeman Centre on Saturday, with proceeds going to support Haiti.

• Student Life will be collecting donations at a number of its events next week, including the Prom Night in Mississippi movie screening on Monday, the Civic Imprints Poetry Slam Tuesday and two recruitment events in the University Centre Jan. 27 and Feb. 3.

• The Central Student Association is working with partners in the city to support a benefit concert planned Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at the River Run Centre.

• The School of Environmental Design and Rural Development is hosting an event Jan. 21 at noon in the Landscape Architecture Building with guest speakers T.J. Grant and Mike Weickert from World Vision.

• On our Kemptville campus, students have set up empty water jugs at various locations and are asking people to donate their change. The student council is matching the money collected, with all funds going to the Canadian Red Cross. As well, all proceeds from a Jan. 27 student pub will go to the Red Cross.

Please continue to share information about special events and/or fundraising activities on campus with Communications and Public Affairs by calling Ext. 53338 or sending e-mail to lhunt@uoguelph.ca.

For students and employees who 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.

I would like to extend heartfelt condolences to everyone touched by this catastrophe. 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 all members of the University community to play an active part in helping to make a difference by providing assistance or support in any way they can. It is our hope that the massive groundswell of compassion will reach those most in need as rapidly as possible.


Alastair Summerlee
President, University of Guelph

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1