SUNO's rebirth is a cause to celebrate

Southern University of New Orleans was reborn. The school that was forced to make due with trailers and damaged buildings for years after the storm now has bragging rights and bricks and mortar to show off.

"Today is a celebration because we have overcome many of the difficulties to get our students what they deserve to have a strong academic institution," said Chancellor Victor Ukpolo.

A restoration ceremony began a new chapter at the university, wiping away the last scars of a campus crippled by Hurricane Katrina.

"The hardest hit of all institutions in this city," said Herman Plunkett, SUNO's first registrar.
"It had 8 to 10 feet of water and stayed here for three weeks."

Resurrected buildings like the University Center show the payoff of almost a decade.

"When I started here in 2009, we were in trailers and now we have a bowling alley and a swimming pool," said student Keyianta Akim

The trailers on the lake campus were hauled away in June, another step toward SUNO being better than it used to be. One of the more dramatic comeback stories is at the Leonard S. Washington Memorial Library. Out of almost a million books, they were only able to save 35.

"The spaces the students have are an Internet cafe so they can come in and it's completely wireless," said librarian Shatiqua Wilson of the renovated library.

"We decided to move over to digital books so we have a larger e book collection. If there's another hurricane the books are already preserved."

There is a new campus dining hall, and SUNO is enjoying its new book store. The Emmett Bashful Administration Building shines as an open and functional space again. Chancellor Victor Ukpolo says the hard work by the state, the federal government and people who love SUNO is evident.

"People asked me what I'm going to do next, and I said I'm going to Disney World," he said.

The park campus is the next best thing judging from the smiles.

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