We Remember

A special message to all alumni of Virginia Tech

To our Virginia Tech alumni, I write the kind of message I never expected to have to write in my entire career serving the university.  On Monday, the 16th of April, a campus resident senior student shot two students in Ambler Johnston residence hall and proceeded shortly thereafter to the other side of the Drillfield, entered Norris Hall and randomly shot more than 40 students and faculty in several classrooms.  He then turned his gun on himself and took his own life.  As I write this, 32 students and faculty who were among his victims have died.  Others remain hospitalized.  An ongoing investigation will answer so many facts and questions still unknown at this time.

This is the most horrific scene in the history of this or any university.  Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the victims.  Our hearts go out to the friends, classmates and others who witnessed this tragedy.  A Memorial Convocation is scheduled today (Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time) and will be nationally televised.  President and Mrs. George W. Bush are expected to attend, along with Virginia Governor and Mrs. Tim Kaine and other dignitaries.

This is a shocking crime with crime scenes that have attracted national and international press, all broadcasting their live news shows from the Holtzman Alumni Center.  President Charles Steger, himself an alumnus, has personally expressed with utmost compassion his condolences to the families who have been notified and are still being notified.  His leadership through this tragedy has been extraordinary.  All of us at the university wish to demonstrate our compassion especially to our students who have experienced a kind of horror and tragedy that hopefully they never will again.  We share in their deepest sorrow and grief.

Other universities and institutions across the country, and indeed around the world, have communicated with us to express their shock and sympathy.  Many of our alumni have communicated with us and also with each other to share expressions of support as well as their personal grief.   I am confident that Virginia Tech will heal from this in whatever time it may take, and will do so because of its strong support from a family of caring alumni numbering over 200,000, including our current students and all their families.  The faculty, staff and entire surrounding community are committed to helping our students and faculty recover from this terrible, terrible event.  Those who will follow them will continue to embrace the true meaning of our motto “That I May Serve,” that bonds the entire Hokie Nation.

The Alumni Association placed a single wreath in the Campus Chapel within hours of the tragedy, and the Corps of Cadets has posted an honor guard with it to symbolize a university honoring those it has lost so tragically.  It is but one symbol of the enormous grief that an entire campus and family of alumni around the world must bear.

Thank you for your genuine concern and expressions of support for all of us at the university.  And please keep those who lost their lives and their grieving families in your thoughts and prayers. 

Tom Tillar
Vice President for Alumni Relations