Chancellor’s message to the community

In the wake of the horrific tragedy that occurred on April 16 at Virginia Tech University, our thoughts and prayers remain with the families, loved ones, and friends of the victims. It is difficult, probably impossible, to fully comprehend the grief and loss that the Virginia Tech community is experiencing today.

Mark S. Wrighton
Mark S. Wrighton

Sadly, the threat of gun violence, while not common on college campuses, is something that all institutions of higher education have been forced to address. As we mourn the losses in Blacksburg, Virginia, it is important to remind those in the Washington University community of our commitment to providing a safe environment for our students, faculty, staff, and guests.

Earlier this semester, I appointed a task force of key University officials to re-examine and recommend improvements to our existing campus safety and security systems, and a number of these recommendations have been implemented to address security in the Residence Halls and elsewhere. However, we remain a community that must provide free and open access to our facilities in order to fully achieve our educational mission. This difficult balance is likely to be an important topic of conversation for all of us as we move forward. I have great confidence in the ability of our many dedicated security staff to preserve the safety of individuals living and working at Washington University. Should you have questions for these staff and their protocols, I invite you to visit their Web sites at: and for the Medical and Danforth campuses, respectively.

In addition to protocols surrounding campus security, we do have internal communication plans to address serious campus emergencies. These plans allow key University officials to quickly and efficiently communicate with members of the community in response to a crisis. Because we are a large and complex university, we rely on everyone playing an active role in observing and reporting suspicious or serious incidents.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the stress and anxiety that many of you are feeling. Should you feel you need assistance in dealing with the issues surrounding the tragic events of April 16, please visit or call our campus counseling resources. Students may call our Student Health Services at 935-6666 or Uncle Joe’s Peer Counseling & Resource Center at 935-5099. Staff and faculty should use the confidential resources available through the Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-765-9124 or contact your own healthcare provider.

I join the Washington University community and our nation in mourning those lost and injured at Virginia Tech University. This heartbreaking event is a reminder that no institution is immune from senseless violence and that our campus safety is the responsibility of all of us who call Washington University our home.