Helping is top priority at MSU when students face crises

Contact: Allison Matthews

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State students facing a sudden crisis may have a variety of challenges and needs, and the university’s Division of Student Affairs works with others on campus to help impacted students through difficult times.

“When a natural disaster like Hurricane Florence strikes, there will be a number of MSU students who have family members and homes impacted. This can lead to financial challenges and other difficulties, and some of these students will need an extra helping hand,” said Regina Hyatt, vice president for student affairs. Early research indicates that MSU has just over 300 students currently enrolled who live in either North or South Carolina.

The MSU Student Relief Fund, built with private gifts, is one way the university helps members of the student body affected by day-to-day crises or displaced by catastrophic disasters.

“The Mississippi State community continuously exhibits the great sense of responsibility and caring for enrolled students that makes the university such a special place,” Hyatt said.

Dean of Students Thomas Bourgeois explained that his office assesses individual needs and administers the fund for acute crisis situations that may impact a student’s ability to succeed academically. The funds have a direct impact on students in extenuating circumstances in order to help them achieve academic success.

Bourgeois said the MSU Student Relief Fund has been very helpful to students who have experienced natural disasters, such as tornadoes or hurricanes, accidents such as house fires, or other circumstances leading to loss of books and other academic supplies.

“Without this fund, a few of our students never would have had the opportunity to walk across that stage at graduation to receive their diplomas,” Bourgeois said. “The impact of the Student Relief Fund is real and has helped students recover in the face of tragedy.”

The MSU Foundation accepts gifts for the MSU Student Relief Fund, and contributions can be made online at or by contacting the Annual Giving office at 662-325-2466.

Meggan Franks, interim director for the Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement, said many students, faculty members and others in the university and local community want to help, particularly in the aftermath of disasters. She emphasized that in addition to large-scale disasters, more conventional scenarios, such as a house fire or other individual-scale tragedies, also impact MSU students each semester.

“Whether we’re talking about a large group of students who share a common geographic hometown area, or we’re talking about three roommates displaced by a fire, these students are surrounded by a caring community and Bulldog family who want to help,” Franks said.

The Maroon Volunteer Center also serves as a resource for those looking for avenues to offer assistance, with information included online at

MVC leaders advise volunteers not to self-deploy, but rather sign up to volunteer before showing up to ensure efforts are efficient and organized under the leadership of coordinated response teams. Franks said cash donations are encouraged as the most effective way to help. In addition to the MSU Student Relief Fund, the university is sharing information on reputable charities from the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and FEMA. Additional information about relief organizations in affected areas is available from each state’s emergency management website.

The MSU Extension Service has disaster response information, including Hurricane Florence monetary donations options, available at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at