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MSU RECEIVES AWARD FOR KATRINA RESPONSE

Mississippi State --Mississippi State University is receiving a national award for efforts to help re-establish vital communication links on the Mississippi Gulf Coast immediately following Hurricane Katrina.

The American Distance Education Consortium and the Computer Applications and Services unit of the MSU Extension Service worked together to establish portable satellite dishes in the most devastated areas immediately after the storm. ADEC recently presented the land-grant university with the 2006 Irving-Barrier Buster Award, marking the second time MSU has received this honor established in 1995.

Local MSU Extension Service and Experiment Station personnel provided the necessary expertise and coordination of this equipment so relief workers and residents could receive urgent information in a timely manner.

Janet Poley, president of ADEC, said access to this technology enabled agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to get needed relief information out quickly and helped answer residents' questions.

“People were able to get their FEMA questions answered, find health insurance information and start the paperwork process with various agencies,” Poley said.

“The hurricane created a huge communication barrier,” she said. “Mississippi faced a devastating situation, and Mississippi State helped relieve some of the anxiety associated with this breakdown in communication.”

In previous years, the Irving-Barrier Buster Award has been given as two awards: the Irving Award and the Billy Murphy Barrier Buster Award. The Irving Award is ADEC's top leadership award while the Barrier Buster Award honors those individuals and/or institutions that have creatively overcome barriers in extending technology to their constituents.

Rodney Foil, retired vice president for MSU's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, received the Irving Award in 1995, for his early support and endorsement of distance education initiatives.

With the heroic efforts of several institutions and individuals after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, ADEC's Board of Directors decided to give recipients a joint award in 2006.

“We decided to combine these two awards this year and recognize the outstanding work that was performed in the aftermath of the hurricanes,” Poley said.

ADEC is a non-profit distance education consortium of about 65 land-grant universities and state colleges with private sector and government affiliates. It was developed to promote the creation of high quality and economical distance education programs and services for primarily rural and remote communities.

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