To the Washington University community:
Over the past week, we have been watching the enormous tragedy unfold in Japan in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been profoundly affected, and I know all in this community have sympathy for those who have been directly affected. As recovery efforts continue, many at Washington University have raised important questions about the impact this has had on our community and how we, as an institution, can offer assistance to our Japanese friends both here and in Japan. On behalf of the university, I write you now to address these questions.
On March 11, we had several groups of students and faculty traveling in Japan. We were quickly able to make contact with all of them and were assured of their safety. Some have chosen to return to the United States, while others have decided to remain. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and work to maintain contact with those individuals.
Washington University and Japan have enjoyed close ties over many decades. We are proud that many of our most distinguished graduates have been of Japanese heritage. Today, nearly 500 Washington University alumni live in Japan. We also have many faculty and staff who were born in Japan, some whom still have close family living there. Over the past few days we have heard from many of those individuals, and we know that this disaster has been understandably devastating for them.
If you or someone you know is experiencing personal difficulties in dealing with this tragedy, I encourage you to take advantage of the counseling resources available for students through the Student Health Services on the Danforth and Medical Campuses, and for our faculty and staff through our Employee Assistance Program.
I am extremely proud of our community and the way in which we come together to support one another during difficult times. Over the coming weeks, please take care of one another, especially those in our family who are from Japan. I have asked the Office of Public Affairs to create this special web page that will contain helpful resources as well as updated information about ways members of our community can become directly involved in supporting the relief and recovery efforts. Please consider doing whatever you can to help.
Mark S. Wrighton