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11 colleges in state share reflections on coping with crisis

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

By Eleanor Chute, Post-Gazette Education Writer

Independent colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania felt the impact of last week's terrorist attacks.

The schools have international students and students being called up in the reserves or helping with recovery efforts. And they have students far from home who are trying to cope with a nation's grief.

Yesterday, 11 college presidents who are board members of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania shared their reflections at a regularly scheduled meeting at Chatham College.

One concern the presidents share is the future of international students.

Bette Landman, president of Arcadia University, formerly Beaver College, in the Philadelphia suburb of Glenside, said the federal government already was making it tougher for international students and she fears the difficulties will increase.

Thomas Kepple Jr., president of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Huntingdon County, said he thinks that to be a world citizen "we've got to know individuals from other parts of the world."

Richard Kneedler, president of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said his school has about 180 international students, including 55 Muslims. He said leaders from around the world have children at colleges in the United States and he believes creating a good environment for their offspring will help with those leaders' willingness to cooperate.

Some college presidents said they'd received thanks from international students or their parents for making the students feel at home.

Eight of the 11 colleges canceled classes last week and three stayed in session.

Allegheny College President Richard Cook said the Crawford County school continued classes as a way for students and faculty to be together, but he didn't expect them to be learning much chemistry.

Brother Michael McGinniss, president of La Salle University in Philadelphia, said his school canceled classes out of respect for the victims and a need for students and staff who are parents to pick up their children.

Sister Mary Reap, president of Marywood University in Scranton, said that while older generations have lived through other national tragedies, this was the first one in the lives of young students.

Kneedler said colleges can promote behaviors -- concern, compassion, resilience, perseverance, patience -- and make a lifelong impression.

"I hope we're planting some seeds in the younger generation or generations in our classrooms," he said.

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