Tornado-damaged Shaw University Closes Doors for the School Year

RALEIGH, N.C. Officials at Shaw University decided this week to end the semester early after a storm damaged buildings and displaced students on April 16.

No injuries were reported, school officials say.

Students will be graded on work completed through April 17, university president Irma McClaurin said in a message to the university community. Just over two weeks remained, including final exams, for the spring semester.

The school’s commencement is still to be held May 7 at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

The storm was responsible for billions of dollars worth of damage across several states, as well as the deaths of nearly four dozen people.

Several Shaw dormitories suffered damage, leaving them unlivable. Heath Walker, an intern in the school’s sports information and public affairs office, says tree limbs were strewn about the 30-acre campus when he reported for work on Monday. The likened the empty campus to a ghost town.

Officials describe the Willie E. Gary Student Center, which houses the school’s cafeteria, as “devastated.” Windows were blown out from high winds, and part of the roof was gone.

Trees also were uprooted at the school, which first opened its doors in 1865, making it the oldest historically Black university in the South. As of the 2010-2011 school year, just over 2,300 students were enrolled at the school.

An estimate on the total cost of damage is not yet available.

Some students were temporarily housed at a local high school in a shelter set up by the American Red Cross’ Triangle chapter. Others stayed with friends, family or in hotels. School officials helped make arrangements to get students home.

McClaurin says information will be forthcoming on the school’s Web site about paying financial obligations for graduation and to be able to enroll students for classes in the fall.

“I am confident that this institution will return stronger and better than before,” she says.

A local bank also has set up a disaster relief fund for those wanting to donate to the school. Donations should be sent to:

Shaw University Disaster Relief Fund

Mechanics and Farmers Bank

13 Hargett St.

Raleigh, N.C. 27601