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University of California Santa Barbara

Memos to Campus

Tsunami Response Task Force

January 14, 2005


Dear Colleagues:

Our UCSB family is united in sorrow by the recent tsunami in South Asia, and the devastating losses inflicted by this tragedy. The international disaster is of such a magnitude that it almost defies our imagination. Our hearts go out to all the people whose lives have been forever changed by these terrible events.

While we might feel powerless in response to this awful tragedy, there are things that we all can do to help, and I am proud that members of our campus community have already begun organizing such efforts. We encourage, applaud, and support all these efforts. I know that we all will find ways to respond to this humanitarian crisis.

Our campus was immediately in touch with our Education Abroad Program students living in the affected areas, and I am glad to tell you that they are all accounted for and safe. We have also made contact with all of our international students from the region. For our students who may have friends or family members in these areas, or who perhaps just need to talk to someone about the tragedy, I want you to know that we are here for you and we have counseling services available.

Our UCSB Web site now has a link under “Campus Topics” to a special Web page that has information on campus fund-raising and other events to benefit the disaster victims. Last Sunday, our students organized a day-long action forum and a candlelight vigil in honor of the tsunami victims. At these events and in countless other ways, I have been tremendously touched to see the outpouring of compassion from our students, staff, and faculty members.

After meeting with representatives from across our campus community, we have formed a Tsunami Response Task Force, the members of which are listed below. The group’s first priority is to provide humanitarian help, and to serve as a clearinghouse for the many fund-raising relief efforts already underway on our campus. The task force will develop a formal link with Direct Relief International, the highly regarded relief agency here in town. Efforts will be made to channel funds raised by groups on campus to Direct Relief as well as to the American Red Cross, United Way, and other agencies.

Another way our campus can help is through the research expertise of our faculty. The task force will bring together campus experts on earthquakes, tsunamis, and the impact of such disasters on local people and their cultures. This will help shape possible long-term responses to the tragedy.
Finally, we will be asking the task force to look into UCSB’s own emergency preparedness. We have very good plans in place to help our campus community in the event of an earthquake, tsunami, or other emergency. In the months ahead, we will work aggressively to find effective ways to communicate these plans, as well as to make improvements.

I would like to thank our task force members for their willingness to take up this important endeavor. And I again thank all of you who have reached out in so many ways to help those in need. I am humbled and grateful to be part of such a caring community.


Henry T. Yang

Tsunami Response Task Force

Michael O’Connell, Co-Chair (Director, UCSB Education Abroad Program; Professor, English)
Larry Parsons, Co-Chair (Director, Environmental Health & Safety)
Ralph Archuleta (Professor, Geological Sciences)
Tanya Atwater (Professor, Geological Sciences)
Carolyn Buford (Associate Dean of Students, Office of Student Life)
Paul Desruisseaux (Associate Vice Chancellor, Public Affairs)
Sandra Geissler (GSA Representative)
Mary Jacob (Director, Office of International Students and Scholars)
Christine Lai (A.S. Representative)
Joel Michaelsen (Vice Chair, Academic Senate; Professor, Geography)
Mattison Mines (Professor, Anthropology)
Susan Stonich (Professor, Environmental Studies and Anthropology)
James To (Associate Director, A.S. Community Affairs Board)

more members may be added later