Hampton University, a historically Black institution in Virginia, is allowing University of the Bahamas students displaced by Hurricane Dorian to enroll for a semester tuition-free. The universities are hundreds of miles apart, but they share a connection: the current president of the University of the Bahamas, Rodney Smith, is Hampton’s former administrative vice president.
The University of the Bahamas students will receive free room, board, and tuition for the current semester, along with the option of staying at Hampton as a paying student after the semester ends. “I think this agreement is something that can be helpful to a great number of students and families and is part of something I’ve tried to do my entire career—helping people to achieve and meet their goals,” Hampton University President William R. Harvey said in a statement.
Hurricane Dorian’s winds and rain ravaged the Bahamas in early September, destroying much of the university’s north campus. According to CNN, Dorian is the strongest hurricane to have ever hit the island nation.
Lawrence Rigby, a 2015 graduate of Hampton and native of Nassau, New Providence, thanked Hampton for its swift response. “I am grateful to President Harvey and university leadership on this demonstration of kindness and humanity to my home in our time of need,” Rigby said in the statement. “Young Bahamians from Abaco and Grand Bahama who are looking for the tools to rebuild their lives and our home will find them at Hampton.”
The New York Times notes that Hampton has a history of stepping up in the wake of natural disasters; it provided similar support in 2005 to New Orleans students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.