If you were in charge of (or responsible for) a large number of people in New Orleans today, would you have the guts to call for an evacuation? As a leader, the call to evacuate has to be one of the most excruciating decisions possible. Dr. Walter Kimbrough, the President of Dillard University (on the job for less than one month) made the call this afternoon. He posted the following to his twitter account – “To ensure student comfort during this storm, we will close campus and move students to Centenary College in Shreveport.” – @HipHopPrez. (His twitter feed is worth following for anyone in higher education.)
This is a gutsy move, and it feels like the right decision. With the brunt of the storm coming on about 24 hours, and several experts indicating a potential (albeit small) for a truly significant event (click here for the Weather Nerd and here for The Weather Channel’s Bryan Norcross’ blog), the Mayor of New Orleans has not been willing to call for an evacuation. I hope that Mayor Landrieu’s reading of the storm is correct, but he talks about addressing “the worst-case scenario,” but his actions reflect addressing the “most-likely scenario.”
No matter what happens, Dr. Kimbrough’s decision to re-locate should be praised. He will not take a chance on the safety of “his” students. He also did a great job of using language that focuses on the care of the students, without using the word “evacuation,” in deference to the Mayor.