Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Awards Grant to UNO

On February 17, 2006 the Austrian ministerial council approved a 1 Million Dollar grant to The University of New Orleans.

From left: Director Günter Bischof, Vice- Chancellor Rrobert Dupont, Chancellor Tim Ryan, Wolfgang Stoiber (ERP Fonds, Vienna), Eugen Stark (ERP Fonds, Vienna), and Austrian Ambassador to the US, Dr. Eva Nowotny

Univ. of Innsbruck’s Katrina Benefit: Friends in Need are Friends Indeed

From left: Director Günter Bischof, Vice-Chancellor Robert Dupont, Chancellor Tim Ryan, Mrs. Ellen Palli, Dean Anton Pelinka, Ambassador Dr. Eva Nowotny

Hungarian Ambassador Visits Center Austria

From left: Marton Erdei, Student from Hungary, Dr. Stephen Gergatz, Hungarian Hon. Consul, Dr. Bobby Eason, Chancellor’s Office, Irene Ziegler, Coordinator Prague Summer Program, Ambassador András Simonyi and his wife, Dr. Eliza Ghil, Chair, Department of Foreign Languages, Director Günter Bischof

After a tour of the storm ravaged city,the Hungarian Ambassador to the US, Dr. András Simonyi, and his wife visited Center Austria to brainstorm about possible ways and projects how to applyHungary’s lessons of history to UNO and New Orleans today.

From the Director

The furious winds and storm surges of Hurricane Katrina -- the “big one” nobody thought would ever hit – and the catastrophic aftermath of leveebreaks and major flooding have changed life dramatically in New Orleans. The University of New Orleans miraculously continued to educate students starting on October 10 from its Jefferson Center. UNO resumed regular business on the Lakefront campus with the opening of a university spring semester on January 30. Like all institutions of higher learning in the city, it is struggling financially as a result of a dramatic enrollment drop from 17,000 to 12,000 students.

Center Austria continued its operations at the beginning of January 2006 . We reopened with a memorable ceremony on February 17, graced by the presence of the Austrian Ambassador to the US, Eva Nowotny. A very large crowd of UNO friends of Austria gratefully acknowledged the transfer of generous cash gifts by Ellen Palli and Anton Pelinka to 40 UNO faculty and staff. Eugen Stark and Wolfgang Stoiber from the Marshall Plan Anniversary Foundation in Vienna brought a spectacular gift of 1 million dollars to UNO for the rebuilding and reinvisioning of UNO. Never has international support beenso warmly welcomed at UNO.

Sadly, our Austrian students were displaced by Katrina. Of 45 Austrian students and faculty starting in August 2005, only one returned to UNO in thespring. While 4 returned to Austria after the storm, the vast majority found new host institutions and generous tuition waivers all across America. American institutions were remarkably welcoming to foreign Katrina victims and displayed outstanding solidarity with the storm-battered New Orleans academic community. Friends of UNO in Innsbruck, led by Rektor Manfried Gantner and UNO liaison Franz Mathis, as well as Mayor Hilde Zach’s office, could not have been more supportive. They collected some 50,000 dollars for UNO victims and scholarship funds for UNO students to come and study in Innsbruck for the fall. The work load of our Academic Year Abroad director Margaret Davidson practically doubled over night with 8 Katrina victims arriving in Innsbruck in late September. The AYA overseas campus in Innsbruck thus turned out to be the only UNO operation to continue completely uninterrupted by the storm.

May we be blessed and “the big” ones spare us for the next 100 years and may we be able to get back on our feet. We at CenterAustria have great expectations to rebuild our programs – as nearly twenty Innsbruck students have signed up to come to UNO in the fall, as well as a Marshall Plan Chair, a Fulbright lecturer, and a Ministry of Science fellow. We all look forward to welcoming them to our campus and our city. Günter Bischof

Center Austria Junior Fellow Meets President Carter

Roman Deininger, a Ph.D. student of Political Science at the University of Vienna, was Resident Junior Research Fellow at Center Austria from April to June 2006. He is a University of Munich graduate and working on a dissertation on religion and politics in the United States. While in New Orleans he had the chance to meet Jimmy Carter after the former President taught Sunday School in Plains, Georgia. He also received research grants from the Johnson and Bush Presidential Libraries in Texas.

Besides his research endeavors he covered the New Orleans mayoral election for German newspapers, among them the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.Center Austria was delighted to have Roman Deininger as part of the team and we wish him well and hope to see him back in New Orleans!

Personal accounts from Inge Korber, Rosa Maria Mulser, the rare Johannes Bohacek, and Stefan Friedrich.


Inge Korber

When I came to New Orleans as an undergraduate student in July 2002, I planned to spend two semesters there before going to Spain for a year. Since I was majoring in English and in Spanish at the University of Innsbruck, I saw New Orleans as a great opportunity to not only significantly improve my English skills, but at the same time get a glimpse of life in a city as diverse and contradictory as New Orleans.

I immediately fell in love with New Orleans (except for the heat waves, the hurricanes, and the mosquitoes during the summer) and finally decided that I wanted to stay instead of moving to Spain. I left to spend a semester in Innsbruck and came back in January 2004 to start my MA in the English Department. I graduated in August 2005, right before hurricane Katrina. After my MA studies, I was offered to enter the MBA program and work as acounsellor for the College of Business Administration. Curious about life outside Liberal Arts, I took the offer and started counselling, first at UNO, and then, after Katrina, at LSU for the fall semester.

Even though I was enjoying my work as well as my studies, however, I was forced to leave UNO and move back to Austria in January 2006 due to the difficult housing situation. Back in Austria, I am currently working as an English and German tutor in Lienz, and I will be taking my Diploma Exam at the University of Innsbruck at the end of April.

I have been offered full-funding for the English Ph.D. program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette starting in the fall of 2006. Inge also received the 2005/06 award for best M.A. thesis in the English Department.


Rosa Maria Mulser

Hi everybody!
I am Rosa Maria Mulser and I came to UNO in 2003 on the exchange program the University of Innsbruck offers.
Originally, I only wanted to stay in New Orleans for 9 months to broaden my horizons. But after I experienced the variety of research projects and internships the Psychology department offers, I decided to transfer my Innsbruck credits to UNO in order to finish my bachelor degree and to go on to graduate school. Grad school in the U.S. works quite differently than at universities back home. On the PhD level only a limited number of people get accepted
and those lucky kids receive a very intense education in research and teaching. Most often it is the case that the student will work together with one specific faculty member for 4-5 years.

I applied to different schools around the country last semester and I just received the final notice from Tulane University that I got accepted into their PhD School Psychology program. As of right now, I might be the happiest
person in the world!


the “rare” Johannes Bohacek

The splendid Bohacek is a rare species of Austrian ancestry. Although often erroneously associated with Innsbruck, his natural habitat is actually the lovely city of Graz. However, unusual nocturnal study-rhythms and an excessive need for warm temperatures have brought him all the way to the University of New Orleans. Records indicate that he started his 4-year Ph.D. studies at UNO in Fall 2004, in the field of Biopsychology. Unfortunately, little is known about this rare breed, because the Bohacek spends most of his time in dark neuroscience laboratories, examining rodents’ learning and memory performance, analyzing brain tissue, or hiding behind books that often weigh half of his own body weight.

The study of the rare Bohacek has been further complicated by his ungracious habit of persistently avoiding campus-life oriented or politically motivated meetings of any kind. Recent research suggests that the catastrophic events following hurricane Katrina have had a dramatic impact on the rare Bohacek, further endangering his existence. His living space close to UNO was completely submerged, hence he relocated to a new home together with his companion Luis, another rare species originating from Venezuela. Together, this disparate duo keeps each other sane in the face of natural disasters and overwhelming scientific demand.

Further, theflood has forced the rare Bohacek to temporarily move his research to Tulane University, causing highly unstable and demanding lifestyle changes. Only few sources report on the social life of the Bohacek, but it is believed that he maintains a close group of friends and only very occasionally puzzles the scientific community by intense nightly activities in the French Quarter and on Frenchman Street. These reports lack stringent scientific methods, however.

Characteristic of this rare species is the unusual high food intake while repeatedly screaming “FLEISCH!” in ecstasy, and his highly structured lifestyle with daily workout sessions and an elaborate and well-planned weekly work and research schedule. Since the rare Bohacek is now the only remaining Austrian student at UNO, he enjoys a special status at Center Austria and enjoys the fine pleasures of representing his beloved home country.


Nick Mueller Fellow – Stefan Fiedrich

Dear Günter,
I wanted to write you for a long time. The semester in Miami is successfully mastered and my very eventful stay in the US tends – with melancholy – toward an end. I believe no other group of Austrians ever had such a spectacular and miscellaneous exchange-experience as ours.

With my evacuation to Arkansas and Florida, the Spring- Break-Trip to California and Nevada, and my travel along the east-coast to New York at the end of May, I probably will have experienced a good part of the most famous sights and cities, as well as a very interesting and diverse academic change. I gained priceless experience of life in a somehow different culture under specially challenging circumstances.

I don’t really know how to summarize it... I think I learned much more for my life in this single year than in several at home. Besides lots of different points of view and cultural diversity, I also learned to value my native country more, and I am sure that there is nothing better to broaden ones mind and develop ones personality than to travel and get in contact with different people and opinions. I will for sure not stop doing that so soon, even though my next destination in Germany isn’t so far from home.

In any case, I am taking home a much bigger treasure of experiences than I ever expected and want to thank you and Gertraud for the extraordinary help through the Center Austria before and during the catastrophe.

A Big "Danke"

The following universities have accepted displaced students from the University of Innsbruck after Katrina. We owe them our deepest gratitude for their cooperation, flexibility, and patience.

The University of Miami
The University of Arkansas (Fayetteville)
San Diego State University
The University of Arkansas (Little Rock)
Memphis State University
The University of British Columbia
Cornell University
The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss)
Georgia State University
The University of Florida (Gainesville)
Purdue University
King’s College, PA
University of Texas, Austin
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Texas A&M
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

New Beginnings: A Storm Baby

(as told by his father, Jochen Kranz, UNO M.A., MBA) I remember the days after Katrina hit as if through a haze. The fact that my family and I made it through the storm so well continues to amaze me. My partner, Dawn, was nine months pregnant as Katrinaapproached. She had been put on bed rest, so evacuating via car was out of the question. We made the very difficult decision to ride out the storm, bought plenty of water, canned foods and fruit for a few days, boarded up the house and sandbagged all entry ways.

The day after the storm, Dawn started having contractions. I got her and our seven-year old Ty to a fire station about a mile and-a-half away from our house. Having to climb over fallen trees and under power lines
made the contractions worse. Thank God there was an ambulance at the fire station. I put Dawn and Ty in the ambulance which took them to a triage center in Slidell. Since they did not feel prepared to deliver a baby at the triage center, they transferred Dawn to a hospital in Hattiesburg, MS.

As these steps were being taken, I was at home gathering a few things so I might join my family in Slidell. Since all communication was disrupted, I had no idea of this change of plans. As I was getting ready to walk to Slidell, a bulldozer cut a path out, and I was able to get a car out of our neighborhood and drive to Slidell. There, nurses and doctors were caring for patients in the hospital parking lot. Nobody kept track of patients, and nobody knew of Dawn's whereabouts. Only one nurse who had overheard me asking for Dawn remembered a pregnant woman
with a little boy and thought they might be in Hattiesburg.

With I-59 being closed, and the old Highway 11 as well, I had to take several major detours to get to Hattiesburg. I had less than half a tank of gas for a trip of over 100 miles, with all the detours and road blockages. Running the car without air conditioning, driving at low speeds and idling it wherever I could to save gas, I got to Hattiesburg on literally my last drop of gas. Over standing ovations of the hospital staff who knew of Dawn’s desperate situation and our involuntary separation, I found Dawn and Ty. Three hours later, Evan Rivera Kranz was born at Wesley Medical Center. There was no power, running water or sewage. Evan weighed 8 pounds and measured 20.5 inches.

He was a healthy boy, and the most beautiful little thing I had ever seen. The day after Evan was born, the hospital got power through a generator, and we got to stay in an air-conditioned environment with running water for two days before they discharged us. Still, having to scavenge for food for Ty and fighting for gas were some of the most demeaning experiences of my life. After all, the hospital had only enough food to feed its patients and staff. With a half tank of gas, we made it to Meridian, MS, where gas stations had not started rationing gas yet. McDonald's never tasted so good.

We then made our way to Birmingham, AL, where we were stayed in the house of a friend. Even
hough we were a bit crowded into a tight space, we were all well. We remained in Birmingham for about three weeks until power and water had been restored to the Pearl River community. We returned home and began
cleaning up our property. Briefly interrupted by having to evacuate due to Hurricane Rita, we have since worked hard to restore our yard and lives to some type of normalcy. Evan’s Austrian grandparents and aunt just visited us to meet nthe new family member. He is my parents’ first grandchild, and he will be in for a great story when he is older.

Center Austria Welcomes Vienna Students

A group of 30 University of Vienna geography students visited UNO and NewOrleans with their faculty leader, ProfessorHeinz Fassmann, on April 1, 2006. Center Austria organized a two hour seminar for the students with presentations on the state of higher education and UNO, the landscape of New Orleans, New Orleans architecture, and the Louisiana land loss problem -- all pre andpost-Katrina.

Congratulations Dr. Bischof!

Guenter Bischof, Director of Center Austria, was made an "honorary citizen" of the University of Innsbruck in a ceremony in the University's Aula on June 24 by Rektor (Chancellor) Manfried Gantner (left). Dr. Bischof was honored for both his years of work for the partnership treaty between UNO and the University of Innsbruck and his helping Innsbruck students at UNO find new institutions for the academic year 2005/6 after Hurricane Katrina.