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Dear colleagues,

This is a painful week for our entire community. On Monday, we lost one of our own. We mourn the loss of Professor Zijie Yan and extend our condolences to his family. We also extend our condolences to the faculty, staff and students in applied physical sciences, who are profoundly shaken by the violent loss of a valued colleague.

I know many of you were deeply shaken as well during the campus lockdown. The daily news headlines have sadly conditioned us to expect violent acts in public places. My deepest gratitude to those of you who took action to ensure that your students and colleagues were safe by locking classroom doors and taking other protective measures.

We like to think of our universities as safe havens—a place where students learn, instructors teach, research is conducted and we all flourish in an environment that supports us academically, professionally, mentally and emotionally. Our safe haven has been breached, our sense of security upset.

We must all work to repair the damage and restore our shared trust that our campus is a safe space. When classes and normal operations resume tomorrow, please take a moment in the classroom, an office, a meeting, to discuss what this violent act has taken from us, and how we can regain the control we want and need.

Yesterday evening a message went out from University leadership about returning to operations, and I want to reiterate its important message asking our faculty to extend grace and generosity during this difficult time for students—that you have discretion to use excused absences as you see fit, and to work with your students to address the challenges they are facing.

I strongly encourage you to check in with your colleagues—and check in with yourselves. If you need to talk to someone, please avail yourselves of the mental health resources available. If you see a colleague struggling, reach out to them. Human Resources sent out a message yesterday with links and guidance, and we have posted a summary of it on our website here.

Tonight there will be a vigil to honor the life and memory of Zijie Yan, and I hope you will join me there.



James W.C. White

Craver Family Dean

College of Arts and Sciences

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