Dr.Hill shares her hopes for Dillard University

 Dr. Freddie Hill, vice president of campus life, is one who has had to readjust to her professional and personal life after Hurricane Katrina, and described the last six months as nothing short of difficult and challenging.


This disaster which transpired almost a year ago still bears relevance to her professional life as it impacts DillardUniversity, the institution which she currently strives along with other staff members to keep afloat. The aftermath of the hurricane also promises to impact the university’s future; thus, Dr. Hill said she believes the decisions which are made now by faculty members and students are crucial in determining if the university sinks or swims.


Her thoughts of school life were interjected by the ringing of her cell phone which she rose quickly to answer. “It’s my son,” she said after hearing the voice on the other line. Her friendly smile widened as she spoke to him gently, and after a few minutes of talk she hung up.


Dr. Hill talked about her son and Dillard family “He was just calling to find out what’s for dinner,” she stated, and estimated that she would not be home for another forty minutes before she could assuage his hunger. It was already after 5:30 p.m..

She also shared some of the hurdles which her son has had to overcome especially as most of his friends have not returned to school. “He’s been bored and lonely,” she stated.


In recognition off this and her own stress she arranged for them to speak to a professional, and the counseling has helped them to some extent to come to terms with the events of the recent past.


“It has been difficult for all of us,” she acknowledged, as she reclaimed her seat.

Dr. Hill recalled the moment that the evacuation plan was put into effect at DillardUniversity and the busses arrived to take students and faculty to CentenaryCollege. She said that initially she believed everyone would be away for a maximum of three days.


She chucked softly, sighed deeply and leaned into her chair, “I was here for Hurricane Dennis when a lot of people evacuated but I stayed; within a few days people were able to return to their homes.” It was during a weather report when she saw a map of the Gulf of Mexico being covered by the hurricane that she noticed its magnitude and realized that this hurricane was going to be different.



Fast forward ten months later and the difference which the hurricane has made on the university is obvious even to the casual observer; the campus is now located at the Hilton Riverside Hotel. Dr. Hill is one of the main people responsible for this move as the campus at Gentilly Boulevard is being renovated in preparation for the return of the students in the fall 2006 semester.


However, she said that she hopes that the rebuilding process is not limited to the physical campus. “Rebuilding is more than just gutting out a building. It is about thinking of ways in which you can improve education, employment, and your city,” she said calmly yet passionately.

 She stated that one of her main goals for next semester is to broaden the students’ view on the value of education and to explain to them the meaning of holistic education.


“You become an educated person as a means of making positive change, not just for personal success,” she said. Her plan is to work with faculty to achieve this end.

Her other plans include establishing more opportunities for connected learning and interaction among students. She said that she fears students may lose that connection since the majority of them will be living in apartments and may decide to only come on campus for their classes. “We are going to have to work harder to build the sense of community,” she said. “Everyone is going to be held accountable for maintaining Dillard’s level of excellence.”