COMING SEPT. 28: A Stormy Recovery
Typhoon-Ravaged South Pacific College to Train New Workers
Northern Marianas College opened its doors to students in late September, and that in itself as something of a minor miracle. The sole institution of higher education on the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas — a U.S. territory located in the middle of the South Pacific, 2,500 miles north of Australia and 1,200 south of Japan — the college was left devastated by Typhoon Soudelor, which struck the island on Aug. 2. The destruction was on a scale not seen on an American campus since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Nineteen of the college’s 25 buildings were damaged, five of them severely. For seven weeks, the campus had no power. College employees scrambled to find shelter; many of their homes were severely damaged the island’s hotels were already packed with tourists. But the storm is just the latest in a series of challenges facing the college. Consider: the college has undergone six accreditation visits over the past four years after being sanction by an accreditor, and a seventh because the college switched accreditors after beginning to offer four-year degrees. In addition, the Commonwealth is under a mandate to replace some 10,000 contract workers, mostly from Asia and the Philippines, be replaced by Commonwealth-only employees or Americans. And who is being asked to train all these new workers? Northern Marianas College.