Virginia’s Hampton University, a historically Black college, is offering University of the Bahamas students displaced by Hurricane Dorian a free education for the rest of the fall semester.
The University of the Bahamas is the country’s main public university. Dorian, a Category 5 storm, was the most severe hurricane to hit the nation. It destroyed about 45% of the homes on the Grand Bahama and Abaco island, according to the Red Cross. It also damaged the University’s north campus in East Grand Bahama and a center in Freeport on Grand Bahama.
These facilities will be closed indefinitely, despite classes at the university’s main campus on New Providence resuming Friday.
Hampton University will allow University of the Bahamas students free tuition, room and board for the rest of this semester. Afterwards, they will be able to stay at Hampton if they choose, paying regular tuition and fees, according to CNN.
In a news release, Hampton University president William Harvey said, ““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.”
During Dorian, the Bahamas saw winds reaching 180 mph over the two-day period the storm pummelled the islands. The official death toll stands at about 30.
University of the Bahamas president Rodney Smith made the agreement with Harvey in the days following the storm. Smith has worked with Hampton University in the past as the administrative vice president and chief planning officer.
Lawrence Rigby, a Hampton University alum from the Bahamas who served as president of the student government association praised the agreement in the news release.
“Hampton has been the educational choice for many Bahamians over its long history,” he said. “I am grateful to President Harvey and university leadership on this demonstration of kindness and humanity to my home in our time of need.”
Hampton University has a history of opening its doors to students affected by natural disasters. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it took in over 20 students from other historically Black colleges and universities.