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The Tragedy at Northern Illinois University

February 15, 2008

Yesterday afternoon a former graduate student shot and killed four students and a graduate teaching assistant at Northern Illinois University and wounded many others before taking his own life. Our hearts reach out to the relatives and friends of the students who were lost and to Northern Illinois University. Each of us at the University of Rochester feels a special kinship with our fellow colleges and universities, their students, faculty and staff, when a terrible tragedy like this occurs. There are more than 4,200 colleges and universities in this country, but when horrific events like those of yesterday occur, we are all one in our grief.

Ten months ago, after the terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, we conducted a systematic review of how we could provide an even safer and more secure campus for all who work and live in the University of Rochester community. Among other steps, we will soon begin phasing in our new AlertUR emergency notification system that will augment our existing notification systems. We have taken several steps to assist and help students in need. Beginning February 25, for example, we will begin a series of forums to help faculty and staff provide greater support for our graduate students. We are in the process of increasing security around and near campus, particularly as we add new housing for students in areas immediately adjacent to the River Campus. There is a guide to emergency resources at

No campus can be totally safe. But I pledge to you that the University of Rochester will take every appropriate step to provide a safe and secure campus for our students, faculty and staff.