By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE University of The Bahamas North has reopened and resumed classes at its downtown centre in Freeport, a month after Hurricane Dorian destroyed the northern campus in East Grand Bahama.
Dr Ian Strachan, vice president of UB North, said university officials have seen about 70 to 80 percent student returns, and revealed plans to secure a building for a new campus in Freeport to adequately accommodate students and faculty in the near future.
At the moment, classes are being held at UB’s centre on West Atlantic Drive in the Teachers’ Salaried and Allied Workers Union Building, as well as at the Bishop Michael Eldon High School (BMEHS) in the evenings and on weekends.
Being able to start classes after a month-long interruption because of the storm, he said, is good news for their students.
Classes started on Monday, September 30. In addition to three classrooms at its Freeport centre, UB has through partnership with the Anglican Diocese access to nine of their classrooms at BMEHS from 4pm to 10pm weekdays, and from 8am to 10pm on the weekends, as well as three of their laboratories.
According to UB vice president, school officials were very surprised at the high percentage of students returning. He noted 50 of their students have already went to Hampton University to study abroad, and just 50 are now matriculating in Nassau taking classes there.
“I was prepared for more like 50 to 60 percent return, but it has been higher than expected. So, it really confirms we did the right thing. I feel very happy we are able to do this, and that our seniors would be able to finish on time because they would have been really thrown off and unable to graduate,” he added. “It is a victory for the campus given everything we went through to have to change our timetable around, to have to deal with our own personal issues, and still be here for our students.”
As a result of the devastation and trauma experienced during Dorian, Dr Strachan said UB is planning to hold counselling sessions for students. He noted that sessions were already held for faculty and staff last week by UB’s clinical psychologist who came to Grand Bahama.
UB’s library at the campus in East Grand Bahama was destroyed. Although students still have access to the school’s digital resources, Mr Strachan said the university is a part of international system of libraries and so they are continuing to reach out to evolve and to regrow its collection.
Prior to the storm, there were plans to name the library after former COB/UB Vice President Dr Coralee Kelly, he said.
“It is my hope is that in short order we will have a new and bigger space for the library,” he added.