It’s hard to believe it’s been nine years. Nine years since Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath crippled New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Nine years since everyone was affected. At Delgado, a milestone fall semester was just getting underway only about a week before the dream turned into a nightmare when the strong storm and its flooding aftermath roared into the area.
It’s been a long nine years for the college and everyone associated with it. As we reach another August 29 anniversary, its more evident than ever that those dark days are now behind us and a renaissance is underway, not just at Delgado Community College, but throughout the region as a whole. The days of devastation and regrouping have given way to a full recovery and renaissance at Delgado Community College campuses across metropolitan New Orleans.
Here are just a few examples:
Enrollment: Delgado was poised to set a new enrollment record just prior to the storm, when 17,398 students were set to begin classes. That number obviously plummeted following the aftermath, but has been on a steady rise each semester since, with Delgado now recognized as the state’s second largest institution of higher education.
In the Community: Delgado continues to make its mark in the community it serves, not just as an educational institution, but also in regards to Workforce Development, community service initiatives, small business development, and other economic improvements. Delgado’s record graduating classes are improving and strengthening the post-Katrina New Orleans, and people are proud to be “In that Number”!
Sidney Collier Site: As New Orleans marks the ninth anniversary of Katrina, Delgado and LCTCS officials will formally open the newest Delgado campus on the site of the former Sidney Collier Technical School, which was acquired by Delgado when the college merged with LCTCS region I in 2007. The new state-of-the-art campus welcomed students for the first time earlier this month and will house a myriad of programs and offerings.
Learning Resource Center: Following a tedious process of removing damaged and molded materials, the remediation and rebuilding of the Moss Memorial Library was halted when it was discovered that the building’s damage was more extensive that originally determined. The result was a complete demolition. Last December, ground was broken on a new Learning Resource Center that will house the library, student labs, offices, classrooms, and much more! Construction is underway as we speak.
Learning Resource Center Annex: Located adjacent to iconic Isaac Delgado Hall on City Park Avenue the Learning Resource Center Annex will house classroom and faculty space, as well as a Digital Media Center and Small Business Center. Constructed to complement Delgado Hall, the annex is planned to open later this year.
Northshore Annex: Following the merger of Delgado’s Northshore and Slidell campuses earlier this year, a new Annex building was added to the Slidell site to accommodate the large number of students taking Delgado classes on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain. The new building houses classroom and faculty offices, as well as a student lounge and other amenities.
Building One Auditorium Renovation: A long-awaited renovation to the Auditorium in Isaac Delgado Hall (Building 1) on the City Park Campus is also underway. The project was shelved as a result of Hurricane Katrina and more pressing renovation projects but is now on-track to be completed soon to host plays, concerts, and other Delgado events.
Student Services Center: Better known as “Building 2” on the City Park Campus, the home of Delgado’s admissions, registrar, financial aid, bursar, and other campus necessities was inundated by the floodwaters. After these offices were spread throughout campus for years after the storm (including the Student Life Center conference rooms), the building once again hosts students to its offices and classrooms…with an expansion underway.
O’Keefe Administration Building: The College Administration Building took on significant roof and water damage during the storm and was shuttered for several years following. It’s reopened and once again houses the Chancellor’s Office, Vice Chancellors, and business operations.
School of Nursing: The Charity School of Nursing campus, located downtown, was hit hard with flooding and other damage. The campus was fully operational within weeks to meet the growing need for nurses in the community.
Building 8: Located on the City Park Campus, building 8 renovations have been completed and the building once again offers Workforce Development classes.
Joey Georgusis Center for Children: One of the hardest hit areas of campus during the Hurricane was the Children’s Center, located in what was once the President’s House. The new Georgusis Center for Children is located a stone’s throw away from the old location and houses a state-of-the-art children’s environment for the college’s youngest Dolphins.
“Rags” Scheuermann Field at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium: the home of Delgado’s nationally-recognized baseball program was one of the hardest hit areas of campus. Thanks to the dedication of the players, coaches, and staff, the team rebuilt enough to stage their 2006 season, and the program’s rebuilding and renaissance has been steady ever since. Over the past nine seasons, the Dolphins have captured eight conference titles and two berths into the Junior College World Series. The facility improvements affected the entire local sports community, making the stadium “a beacon of hope during a period of despair” according to then-Chancellor Alex Johnson.
West Bank Campus Student Life Center: Earlier this summer, Delgado’s West Bank Campus acquired the former Navy Chapel, located on the Federal City property in Algiers. The college plans to convert the building into a new Student Life Center for the West Bank campus.
Culinary Center for Workforce Excellence: Delgado’s renowned Culinary Arts program has found a new home in the former ArtWorks Building in the CBD. The new center will be possible through partnerships with the local culinary and hospitality industry, as well as other college programs from around the state.
Obviously, the list above is only a few of the ways Delgado has rebuilt and thrived in its post-Katrina recovery. Like New Orleans and the region, it’s a recovery that didn’t happen overnight, but one that continues through today. On this ninth anniversary, we remember the storm that changed New Orleans forever…and one that has made things better than ever before!