"Our academic expertise makes us a strategic
partner," said Tricia Wachtendorf, co-director of the DRC, which is the
nation's first center devoted to the social scientific study of
disasters. "It also touches our heart because Bill Anderson has been so
much a part of us."
BAF will be housed within the Disaster
Research Center in the College of Arts and Sciences and will work to
bring together students from across all seven colleges at the
Wachtendorf noted that Bill Anderson's lifelong
advocacy for greater diversity among disaster researchers and
practitioners is a goal, not just of the fund created in his name but
also of the DRC.
"It's often those in minority communities who
are disproportionally exposed to risk in disasters and who suffer
disproportionally when disasters occur," she said. "That's why it's even
more important to have scholars from those historically
underrepresented segments of our communities conducting research and
playing an active role in policy decisions."
Norma Anderson said her husband often spoke about that same issue.
was very dedicated to his work, and he was always concerned about the
lack of diversity in the field," she said. "It really resonated with me,
and I thought that if I could create this nonprofit to make a positive
change in his memory, that would be something we could be proud of."
Anderson's other professional passion was his dedication to mentoring,
she said. Because he benefited from mentoring early in his career and
went on to mentor many others, BAF initiatives focus on mentoring as one
of the fund's two programs.
Bill Anderson Fund fellows
doctoral students, in a variety of disciplines related to disaster
studies, are current BAF fellows at several universities nationwide.
Another eight students have recently been accepted into the program,
Norma Anderson said.
At UD, the current BAF fellows are doctoral
students Cynthia Rivas in disaster science and management, April Davison
in urban affairs and public policy and Asia Dowtin in geography.
Davison calls BAF "more than a community of scholars and practitioners in the field [but also] a support system."
underrepresented minorities in the field, she said, the fellows and
their mentors rely on one another for support and celebrate one
another's accomplishments. By participating in the program, Davison said
she has been inspired and grateful to learn about Bill Anderson's
career and to follow in his footsteps.
"Norma Anderson knows each
fellow personally and is genuinely invested in our path toward success,"
she said. "She is a powerhouse [who] has worked tirelessly to see the
organization grow and make a difference in the field."
who recently returned from an exploratory DRC visit to Houston in the
aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the goal of increasing diversity in the
study of disasters is a key to finding better solutions in the future.
I see the BAF doing is helping give individuals from underrepresented
populations opportunities to not only increase representation but bring
to the table different ways of approaching, thinking and dealing with
disasters," Rivas said, adding that disaster response is a complex issue
and requires a variety of perspectives and approaches.
came into the BAF it not only allowed me to connect to people who are
interested in addressing, dealing and solving issues in the disaster
science realm but it also allowed me to connect with people that have
faced the same circumstances and difficulties as I have and who are
coming from underrepresented and vulnerable populations."