Dear Campus Community,
I want to give my heartfelt thanks to all who have been involved in helping the victims of the devastating May 20th tornado. I am always extremely proud of our university, but over the last week, your servant hearts and leadership have especially moved me.
The list of assistance provided by our campus is extensive and growing. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who were impacted by the storms, especially our own beloved Mary Brewer whose daughter Terri Long was killed in the tornado. Terri is survived by her husband and three children, and their family home was destroyed by the tornado. The university has established a fund through BancFirst to assist the family.
Approximately 25 members of the OCU community were directly affected by the storms, and many are staying in university housing at Cokesbury Apartments.
Immediately following the tornado, our Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Liz Donnelly formed a university response committee that reached out to all OCU students and staff impacted. The committee has taken on a life of its own and members continue to organize volunteers and assist with the relief effort.
In addition to our students and employees, several other families displaced by the storms are staying in Cokesbury. Last week I had a chance to visit our operations at Cokesbury and the campus community has come through to assist these families and others who may use campus housing in the days to come. An overwhelming amount of donations (food, water, linens, towels, toys, etc.) have poured in from the campus community.
Special thanks to Assistant Director of Housing Liz Harney, Director of University Housing Ade Okediji, and their very capable team of resident assistants. In addition, several students volunteered to help clean and prepare rooms for tornado victims. An RA donating her time told me, "I have to brag on our students—on and off campus—who have volunteered to work, and also brought in whatever they thought was needed—we have toiletries, food items, toys, everything you can think of." We have also opened our housing to members of the Oklahoma City Community College family who have been affected.
We immediately created a web page to connect the campus community and the public with ways to receive and give help. Ongoing efforts will continue to be featured at www.okcu.edu/relief.
Kramer School of Nursing students organized a drive to collect items for those impacted by the storms and will continue to accept and deliver donations. Our student fraternity Kappa Sigma is also collecting items for the relief effort. Also, university counselors are providing free services to storm victims and to our OCU family.
Several of our faculty, staff, and students have volunteered for cleanup and medical assistance efforts and plan to continue to do so over the next few weeks. Many have donated their time to the United Way, Goodwill, and other organizations. This Thursday, an OCU team is being organized to go to Moore to help with debris removal and cleanup. Thanks to the work of our Human Resources team, we have adjusted our university leave policy to honor these volunteer requests. For this current tornado relief effort, all full-time staff members are approved to use up to 18 paid hours during the month of May and up to 18 paid hours during the month of June to volunteer during work hours. Many employees have donated to the United Methodist Committee on Relief and we continue to encourage cash donations to UMCOR to help with the relief effort. (www.umcor.org)
The good work of our university continued this past weekend as the OCU Symphony Orchestra performed at the memorial and prayer service at the First Baptist Church of Moore on Sunday. On Monday afternoon, our students organized a Memorial Day cookout at Cokesbury for storm victims and first responders.
As you know, this week we have welcomed the Oklahoma Methodist Conference to our campus. I appreciate that many of you have volunteered to help out during this event as well. Thank you for your willingness to give and serve.