Monday, May 10, 2010
Chancellor and Chair of the SUS Oil Spill Academic Task Force to Visit UWF
Dear Campus Community,
Like many of you, I am just heartbroken about the unfolding oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico and its possible impact on our region. As a regional comprehensive university we have a commitment to serve our region in educational and research endeavors. To that end, I have formed a team to coordinate the UWF response. The team is led by Janice Gilley, Dr. Richard Snyder, Dr. Richard Podemski, Mike Dieckmann and Jim Hurd. In addition, last week I contacted Pensacola Junior College President Ed Meadows and we have agreed to work together to aid our community in the response to this crisis.
Tomorrow, Chancellor Frank Brogan and Dr. Ross Ellington of Florida State University, the chair of the SUS Oil Spill Academic Task Force, will visit UWF to meet with me and UWF researchers and staff to discuss ways the task force can help Gulf Coast communities deal with the crisis. They will tour UWF facilities and visit our beach property.
I also want to commend our faculty, staff and students who are reaching out in meaningful and productive ways. For instance:
Dr. Richard Snyder, director of our Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation, is continuing his beach sampling and monitoring as part of his Healthy Beaches program. He is also the Lead Researcher for UWF with the newly formed SUS Oil Spill Academic Task Force. His colleague Dr. Will Patterson and his students are using our ROV daily in the Gulf to continue pre-impact monitoring of marine life in our regional waters.
Dr. Rick Harper is working with LSU and the Minerals Management Service on the economic impact to the Gulf Coast and already has been recognized by numerous Southeastern media outlets as their “go to” resource for the economics of this situation. Harper escorted Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Brian McGowan and provided economic information to him while he was in town to meet with Secretary of Commerce Locke and Secretary Napolitano and others on the oil spill issue.
Jerry Cartwright and the SBDC State Network are currently working on economic strategies for our Gulf Coast businesses in the areas of insurance, disaster assistance, business counseling, and bridge loans. They have been mobilized by the disaster declaration.
Dr. Elizabeth Benchley has offered assistance to the National Park Service Southeast Archaeological Center in Tallahassee and to the Florida Division of Historical Resources to assist with documentation, monitoring and clean up of archaeological sites along the Gulf Coast. UWF will have approximately 60 students and staff conducting fieldwork in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties this summer who can be available to assist in coastal areas.
Also, UWF staff is committing volunteer resources to the areas of wildlife rescue, beach cleanup and hazmat training. Chasidy Hobbs already has organized a massive beach cleanup. We are involved with the Emergency Operations Centers locally, and UWF facilities are being made available to visiting researchers and other groups as needed to support the effort (including lodging, laboratories, space for training, boats and boat storage). Some state workers already have been housed in our residence halls.
I could go on, but want you to know that we are not only engaged from a long-term perspective, but also from the perspective of the need for immediate assistance for our community and region. Please do not hesitate to let me or one of the team leaders know of any additional ideas or comments you may have as we work to serve our region during this time.