Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanks to UMass Amherst and the Isenberg School and to My Students

It is the 8th day since the unseasonable October snowstorm hit the Northeast of the US and knocked out electric power to over 3 million people.

The electricity has been essentially restored to the Amherst area but there are still thousands of homes in Massachusetts and Connecticut without power including the home of one of my former students, who received 5 degrees from UMass Amherst and is now a professor at the University of Connecticut, which, miraculously, did not have to close during the power blackout. He and his wife and two little children are, since Friday, staying in Springfield, Massachusetts, which was also battered.

I am writing this post to thank UMass Amherst and the Isenberg School.

During the disaster, officially declared, that befell us last week, UMass Amherst, probably because of its electric power co-generation capabilities, and underground utilities on campus, managed to essentially maintain electric power, which meant that there was heat, water, light, and Internet service in the dorms, offices, cafeterias, and many research labs and facilities.

Last Sunday morning, 1 week ago, my husband and I woke up to a freezing house, since we had lost power at around 9:45PM the previous night. Our daughter, luckily, had spent the night at Deerfield Academy, her school, since there had been a special Halloween party that evening.

After donning clothes, and without caffeine in us, we proceeded to drive around to see what our areas had experienced and you can see photos here and read more here.

Above are photos taken last Sunday and Monday of the Isenberg School and the UMass Amherst Berkshire Dining Common, where we ate several dinners and were joined by some of my students.

Special thanks to Ken Toong, the Director of Dining Services at UMass Amherst, for feeding not only thousands of students during this time but also many faculty, staff members, and their children. My husband had a conversation with him and he told him that records were being broken as to the numbers that UMass had fed during this disaster.

Some students had joined us for the meals, which even included a special Halloween meal. Thank goodness that the refrigerators and cooking facilities at UMass never lost power and the meals provided some distractions and nourishment during this difficult week.

Also, thanks for keeping the cafeterias and restaurants open in the Campus Center where we also had delicious lunches and warmth.

Not all communications worked during this terrible week and transportation was also disrupted in a major way as well as our daily lives and rhythms but having a community such as UMass and the Isenberg School demonstrated that we are in this together.

Yesterday was Homecoming at UMass and seeing so many alums and benefactors back reinforced how important it is that we all work together and support one another. Even our new UMass System President, Dr. Caret, came. Although we lost the football game, we won the hockey game and beat the number 1 seed, Boston College.

More importantly, we shared our experiences and were even treated to some much needed entertainment by student musical groups and the Minuteman Marching band.

One of my former MBA students came running up to me during a Homecoming breakfast and melted my heart when he told me what an important role my Management Science course had played in his career success and how now his daughter is a freshman at the Isenberg School.

This disaster has clearly showed us all the importance of community and supporting one another.