Former Louisiana Governor to Discuss Lessons from Katrina
The Benedictine College Sesquicentennial Lecture Series continues with a presentation from former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco. Her speech, “Lessons from Katrina,” is set for 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 17, in the college’s O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium on the Atchison, Kan. campus, 1020 N. Second St. The event is free and open to the public.
Blanco was governor of Louisiana from 2004 to 2008 and made major reforms in education and economic development. She directed the single largest increase in investment in education in Louisiana’s history, pushed through reforms in education standards and accountability, and funded key reforms leading to a futuristic high-school redesign plan. In the area of economic development, she brought more than $18 billion in new capital investments to the state, created more than 41,000 new direct jobs, and pushed through significant tax cuts on manufacturing machinery, the corporate franchise tax on debt, and utilities.
Of course, Blanco became best known as the governor who led the state through the largest natural disaster in American history, Hurricane Katrina. When the hurricane swamped New Orleans and much of the Louisiana coast in September 2005, she served as commander in chief of the largest domestic call-up of National Guard troops in U.S. history. She directed the creation of the evacuation plan that moved an unprecedented 1.3 million people to safety in 36 hours. She committed more than $5 billion in state dollars to the recovery and pushed for and secured Congressional approval for a share of off-shore revenues generated by drilling for oil and gas. She led a campaign for passage of a state constitutional amendment dedicating 100% of that money to coastal restoration and hurricane protection.
By the end of her term in early 2008, more than 90,000 families had received their Road Home money and were able to return to their homes. Well over 60 million yards of storm debris has been removed, bridges and highways were repaired in record time, and new building codes were enacted to ensure safer structures in the future. Blanco has since advocated for reforms to the Stafford Act which would better position the United States government to respond to such catastrophic events.
Benedictine College is in the midst of a year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary that includes this lecture series. Other speakers in the series include Bradley Smith, former chair of the Federal Election Commission, coming on October 31; Sean Flynn, Ph.D., of Credit Suisse-NY, coming November 13; Dayton Moore, general manager of the Kansas City Royals, coming November 14; Christopher Vath, renowned pianist and composer, coming on November 19; and Don Soderquist, former vice-chairman of Wal-Mart, coming November 21. The college traces its roots in the area to 1858 and has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.
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A Catholic, Liberal Arts, Benedictine, Residential College.