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Chairs are prepared for shipping.

January 18, 2018

CMU Donates Classroom Furniture To Help University of Puerto Rico

By Bruce Gerson

Carnegie Mellon University has shipped 342 arm table classroom chairs to the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez to help the school recover from the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. The chairs arrived at UPRM on Jan. 29.

“When the hurricane hit, we reached out to our colleagues at UPRM to ask how we could be most helpful,” said College of Engineering Dean James Garrett, Jr. “Their chancellor, dean of engineering and associate dean responded with a list of supplies they needed, which included classroom furniture to replace the furniture damaged by the hurricane.”

Garrett pulled a team together that included Ramayya Krishnan, dean of the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy; Ann English, associate dean for finance and operations at Heinz College; and Don Coffelt, associate vice president for facilities and a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Coffelt said the university’s classroom renovation project now underway provided the resources to help. He worked with Joy Cavaliero in the Registrar’s Office to identify and secure furniture from the classrooms being renovated that could be reused. He then contacted the Brother’s Brother Foundation in Pittsburgh.

“They do great things,” he said. “Their specialty is logistics — getting things from people who have it to people who need it, efficiently and at a low cost.”

The chairs were placed into a shipping container Jan. 10 at CMU’s warehouse on Penn Avenue. It was picked up by the Brother’s Brother Foundation and was transported to New Jersey. From there it was put on a ship for the island.

The College of Engineering, Heinz College and Brother’s Brother Foundation shared the cost of the mission.

“It was easy for us to say yes to this project because of the quality of the partners involved on the giving side and the receiving side,” said Luke Hingson, president of the Brother’s Brother Foundation, which coordinated all the logistics for the shipment. “If we have the opportunity to work with CMU again, we’d love to do so.”

Garrett praised the team approach to the project.

“It was truly a collaborative effort that epitomizes what we do here at CMU,” he said.

The furniture donation and a cash gift from the College of Engineering to assist UPRM with other expenses are CMU’s latest efforts to help Puerto Rico.

Third-year decision science major Rosana Guernica, with help from a team of students, faculty and staff, has raised more than $217,000 through a crowdfunding site. The funds helped the Puerto Rico native to charter several flights to her homeland, bringing 76,000 pounds of supplies to those in need. She also evacuated nearly 300 people to the U.S. mainland, many of whom required medical aid. The Brother’s Brother Foundation also assisted Guernica’s efforts.

The Heinz College has raised more than $5,000 for the American Red Cross to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and those hurt by the September earthquake in Mexico. Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, is a Heinz College alumna.

This story was updated Jan. 29.