Saint Martin’s University in Washington State invites students displaced by Hurricane Katrina

September 7, 2005

Lacey, Wash. – Saint Martin’s University is opening its doors and hearts to college and university students displaced by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Several universities and colleges in the Southeast have been closed indefinitely by storm damage.

Saint Martin’s has a tradition of helping, and is inviting students in good standing at their home universities or colleges for the semester or longer, said Saint Martin’s President Douglas Astolfi.

“Residents along the Gulf Coast who are coping with this terrible natural disaster need our support, our material assistance, and our prayers,” Astolfi said. “We will provide students displaced by the storm and its horrible aftermath with immediate admission to Saint Martin’s, financial aid, academic tutoring, and housing on or near our campus for one semester or, should it prove necessary, for the full academic year. We must and will do what we can to help those affected by this terrible disaster.

Saint Martin’s is a fully accredited Roman Catholic, coeducational university founded by the Benedictine Order, which has a 1,500-year-old emphasis on hospitality, he said. The Rule of St. Benedict, which guides the Benedictine Order, states, “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.”

The university has a few rooms available at its residence halls and has received offers of rooms and other student assistance from area residents and members of the university community eager to help. Saint Martin’s also is one of several independent colleges and universities in Washington working through Independent Colleges of Washington to offer help to students affected by Hurricane Katrina. The university’s administrators say they are hoping residents of our area will help spread the word among family members in the affected region. They also are working with several national education organizations that are trying to connect displaced students with institutions.

Saint Martin’s, on Puget Sound and adjacent to Washington’s capital city, Olympia, is one of 13 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States. The university is about an hour south of Seattle on the Interstate-5 corridor. Saint Martin’s offers degrees in 22 undergraduate programs and six graduate programs on its main campus and at extension campuses at nearby Fort Lewis Army Base, McChord Air Force Base and Olympic College. Notable for its close-knit community, Saint Martin’s has about 1,200 students at its main campus. About half are Catholic, and about 30 percent are minorities.

Displaced students interested in coming to Saint Martin’s should contact Melanie Richards, dean of students, as soon as possible. She can be reached at (360) 438-4367; For more information about Saint Martin’s, please visit the university’s website,

For more information:

Deanna Partlow
Media relations coordinator
Office of Communication
360-438-4541 or

Melanie Richardson
Dean of students
360-438-4367 or