U.S. Colleges, Universities to Mark 9/11 Anniversary with Memorial Services, Discussions and Exhibits

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by Helen Hu

As the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 approaches, Pace University officials are planning panels and vigils, just as administrators at other colleges and universities are doing across the country. Pace, however, was on the front lines of the tragedy as its main New York City campus is mere blocks from ground zero.

Four of its students and 43 alumni perished that day. The students were in the World Trade Center towers, either at jobs or internships, and alumni were working in offices there. Hundreds more with connections to the university were injured. Pace’s World Trade Institute and Conference Center was on the 55th floor of the North Tower.

The debris-covered campus became a safe harbor after the attacks. It provided shelter for people fleeing the towers. The admissions office served as a triage center for rescue crews. Law enforcement officers, National Guard troops and volunteers gathered in the cafeteria.

Ten years later, Pace has not only bounced back, but expanded. Enrollment is up. It is in a prime location for watching the controversial rebuilding of ground zero, which will include skyscrapers, a memorial, museum, and transportation hub. Pace will hold a series of events to mark 9/11, including what is being billed as New York City’s most comprehensive exhibit of media images of the attack and aftermath. Titled “Witness to Tragedy and Recovery,” it will be shown today through Sept. 24 (closed Sept. 11, 15 and 22).

Today, a panel of photographers and analysts will discuss the impact of the images from 9/11 with Aaron Brown, who was a CNN anchor during the 9/11 attacks. Pace also plans to hold two other symposiums, an art exhibit and candlelight student vigils.

“There are still people at Pace with painful memories,” says Christopher Cory, executive director of public information and a co-chairman of the photo exhibit. “It’s hard to look at these pictures again.”

Universities are exploring 9/11 from many angles this year — social, cultural, literary, political, religious, anthropological and journalistic, among others. Schools also are bringing in politicians, academicians, law enforcement officials and victims’ relatives to share their thoughts. They also are holding memorial services and offering students counseling.

Columbia University will focus on public health and disaster preparedness issues raised by 9/11 with a panel convening today. Artists, writers, and activists will discuss the effects of catastrophes on cities and ways they can cope on Oct. 14-15.

An exhibit of photos, publications and artwork generated by faculty and staff depicting how life has changed since the attacks opened at New York University Tuesday and will continue through Oct. 8. Muslim-American self-portraits and personal narratives will be shown Aug. 25-Sept. 25.

The City College of New York is planning a memorial service on Monday featuring photos of the attacks taken by a staff member, as well as a musical performance. Students and staff will have an opportunity to share remarks as well.

In New Jersey, panelists at Rutgers University will talk on Sept. 16 about how 9/11 changed the country. Scheduled speakers include William Keegan Jr., a decorated commander with the World Trade Center rescue and recovery teams, and Lee Ielpi, a retired New York firefighter and president of the Tribute WTC Visitor Center.

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, will speak at a memorial service on Friday at Manhattan College in the Bronx. The school lost 20 graduates in the attacks and is holding five days of events.

In Philadelphia, items recovered from ground zero are on exhibit at the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Eyeglasses, a computer keyboard, glass from the towers and other objects will be displayed through Nov. 6. At Harvard University, the school of education held a program on Wednesday on how to teach about 9/11. Sunday, the university is holding an interfaith gathering and staging music, readings and dance.

Students at George Washington University will volunteer at Washington, D.C., schools that lost students, parents and teachers who were heading to a field trip and were aboard American Airlines Flight 77. The airliner slammed into the Pentagon on 9/11, killing 184 people.

On the West Coast, the University of California at Berkeley today will have experts in public policy, political science, media and history discuss how 9/11 changed America. Among the topics: Did the U.S. response in Afghanistan and Iraq make us more safe or less? How have the attacks affected the generation that grew up after 9/11?

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