Campus Tragedy

Campus Tragedy

Last update: Tuesday, Oct. 18, 8:22 a.m.

A video message from University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins


Message 9:
Dear Students and Colleagues,

Last week, many of us came together to honor the memory and to celebrate the life of Professor Tom Meixner, who was so tragically killed on October 5. Tom was an amazing man, whose impact went well beyond his immediate colleagues and students, family and friends. Our thoughts are with all of them, including members of the Department of Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences, who have our unequivocal support.

As you know, last week I announced a broad, independent expert review of our campus security, which will include how the University handled the matters involving the shooter. I understand that there are many questions about what the University knew about the behavior of a former student, its response to that behavior, and what more might have been done to prevent the tragedy. I also recognize that many of you have suggestions, thoughts, and concerns that you want to share with us.

As we await the conclusions and potential recommendations from the review, and in the interest of openness and transparency, I first want to share with you some of the steps that the University took to address the threatening behavior from the former student. If we could have done better, we will acknowledge it and make changes. But I do believe it is important for you to know that the University took action in regard to the conduct directed toward Professor Meixner and others.

  • In January 2022, the former student initially was prohibited from University property.
  • In February 2022, the Dean of Students determined that the former student had violated the Student Code of Conduct and recommended expulsion for his behavior directed at University personnel.
  • The University assisted the Department of Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences in moving faculty.
  • Department leadership was provided with pictures of the former student to distribute to members of the department with instructions on how and when to call police.
  • The University changed the entry passwords for rooms to which the former student had access as a graduate student.
  • The University contacted the former student’s previous educational institution to ascertain additional information about his history, but to no avail.
  • The University educated impacted faculty on the legal options available to them—including the filing of harassment charges and injunctions—as well as the opportunity to pursue criminal charges against the former student with the Pima County Attorney’s Office (PCAO).
  • In the Spring of 2022, UAPD brought information forward to the PCAO in an attempt to charge the former student based on his communications directed toward a University staff member. The PCAO declined to move forward with charges.
  • University of Arizona Police Department (UAPD) officers made at least two visits to the former student’s home to follow up on threats he had made against University personnel. Officers spoke with him on one of those occasions in April.
  • In June 2022, at the conclusion of the disciplinary proceedings following his appeal, the former student was formally expelled. Upon expulsion from the University, he was permanently banned from campus and university activities.
  • In August 2022, the University diverted incoming emails from the former student to University email accounts into a separate email account that could be reviewed by UAPD and certain other parties.
  • In mid-September 2022, UAPD again sought charges against the former student by bringing information forward to PCAO regarding the former student’s harassment of faculty. As of this date, the PCAO has not notified UAPD of its determination on those charges.

 

Since the tragic killings of three University employees nearly twenty years ago, the University has had in place a Threat Assessment Management Team, composed of multi-disciplinary experts from across the University to evaluate and respond to threatening or potentially violent situations. TAMT is there to assist faculty, staff, and students, and ANY member of the University community can reach out to TAMT to report threats at hr.arizona.edu/tam.

In addition, I want to remind you that our Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) is there to provide you with support, tips, and resources, and I would strongly encourage all of you to visit cirt.arizona.edu for information.

I understand that, ultimately, the actions of University personnel and of others in the months leading up to last week’s tragedy did not prevent this tragic loss of life. However, as the information shared above indicates, the University did take action within our authority—we worked closely with the faculty in the Department of Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences and took their concerns seriously; we took prudent measures available to us under the law to keep our faculty, staff, and students safe; and we pursued criminal charges against the student. We have people and processes in place to respond to potential threats and concerning conduct on campus because we know that your safety and security is fundamental to your work, research, and studies. We also do this because we care.

The independent review will help inform us about what additional or different steps could have been taken to better protect our faculty, staff, students, and visitors and how we can improve our response, policies, and procedures involving campus safety and security in the future. We will share changes and new initiatives as they are implemented.

In the weeks ahead, members of the administration will meet with faculty and staff from every college across campus to listen to your concerns, to receive your suggestions and to answer your questions as we are able. In the meantime, I invite you to provide your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions regarding campus safety directly to our leadership team by submitting your anonymous comments via this online form. Each comment will be read, and every suggestion will be considered. Everything is on the table for consideration, including the examination of how the University can enhance its approach to violent threats while balancing civil liberty protections with the health and safety of our community; the implementation of more stringent physical security for our campus and buildings; and how we can support changes to external systems that respond to threats and acts of violence on campuses.

Thank you to all of our faculty, staff, students, and community members who have stepped up to offer your support, your cooperation, your collaboration, and your compassion during this difficult time. We are a resilient community, and we will move forward, together.

Sincerely,

Robert C. Robbins, M.D.

President
The University of Arizona​​​​​

Campus Safety Survey

Please share your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions regarding campus safety.
To complete the survey anonymously, click or tap on the link below.

CLICK OR TAP TO COMPLETE THE SURVEY

 

Counseling & Psych Services

On-demand mental health support for students

https://caps.arizona.edu/

520-621-3334

Employee Assistance Counseling

Available 24/7 to all University of Arizona employees, their dependents and members of their households, 877-327-2362 (TTY: 800-697-0353)

Life & Work Connections

Resources, tools and education for faculty and staff.

lifework.arizona.edu

520-621-2493

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The phone number 988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline). It is now active across the United States.

Stay Up to Date

The University of Arizona Police Department Twitter feed includes messages sent via UAlert, the campus emergency notification system.

Previous Messages

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2:33 p.m.

Are You Registered for UAlert?

The UAlert system is the University's emergency alert system. UAlert is a free service that delivers emergency messages via text and/or email to registered students and employees, or their off-campus family and friends.

Anyone affiliated with any University locations, such as main campus, the College of Applied Science and Technology in Sierra Vista or the College of Medicine – Phoenix, can receive alerts specific to those campuses.

3 things to know about UAlert
  1. Sign up for SMS text alerts in addition to email alerts for the most timely delivery of UAlert notifications. SMS registration is separate from email registration. Please make sure you register for both.
  2. If you already registered for UAlert, please make sure your account is active and that your contact information is correct.
  3. SMS registration must be renewed any time you change cellphone carriers by selecting your new carrier in the UAlert system.
To register for UAlert

Student or an employee

  • Visit the registration page on the Critical Incident Response Team website.
  • Select "register or update now" under the "Students, faculty and staff" section.
  • Sign in with your NetID, then follow the prompts to fill in your 10-digit phone number (without hyphens).
  • Indicate whether you'd like to receive messages about specific campuses.

Family and friends

  • Register by going to the registration page.
  • Select "Sign up or update now" under "Family and friends of the university."
  • Fill out the form.
Additional safety resources

You can familiarize yourself with safety resources and tips from the University of Arizona Police Department. More information also is available on the FAQ page on the Critical Incident Response Team website.

Monday, Oct. 10, 10:01 a.m.

Extended: Counselors on Campus Monday Through Friday This Week (updated 10/12/22)

Many of you were able to speak to the on-site counselors for employees last week. Counselors will continue to be available this week for all interested University of Arizona employees from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday in two locations:

We encourage you to consider this free and confidential counseling resource. You can also call in 24/7 to speak with a counselor. Visit the Employee Assistance Counseling page for more information.

Please remember to check the Campus Tragedy page for updates.

Sincerely,

Division of Human Resources

Life & Work Connections

Friday, Oct. 7, 2:18 p.m.

Candlelight Vigil Honoring the Life of Dr. Thomas Meixner

The University of Arizona will hold a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. tonight to honor the life of Dr. Thomas Meixner by bringing together the campus community and the Tucson community for a shared time of reflection and remembrance.

Dr. Meixner was recognized internationally in his field of hydrology and atmospheric sciences. He also was a beloved teacher, mentor and leader. A graduate of the University of Arizona, Dr. Meixner joined the faculty in 2005 and became head of the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences in 2019.

University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins and Fr. Emmanuel Taylor, associate pastor at St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center, will make brief remarks during the vigil, which will be held on the University of Arizona Mall just east of Old Main. In the event of rain, participants will be able to stand on the verandas that encircle Old Main.

Parking is available in the Second Street Garage.

Mental health resources and support are available for students, faculty and staff. For more information, please visit the Campus Shooting webpage.

Thursday, Oct. 6, 7:36 p.m.

Message from President Robert C. Robbins:

Dear Students and Colleagues,

I want to once again express my concern and care for all of you in the wake of yesterday’s tragic event on our main campus. Dr. Meixner, an international force in his field of hydrology and atmospheric sciences and a kind and warm man, had a tremendous impact on his department and the students he mentored. Our hearts break for his family, students, colleagues, and our entire campus community. He set a wonderful example for all of us on how to be a true servant leader in life, and he will not be forgotten.
 

Healing our Community

Community can be a source of healing, and this includes organized campus activities and classes. In consultation with student support experts and academic leaders, we made the determination yesterday to hold classes today and tomorrow in a sincere effort to put the needs of our community members first. In some cases, faculty members have cancelled class and, in others, they have provided the option for students to forego attending or to attend remotely. I support these approaches and the exercise of discretion on the part of each instructor and student. With this in mind, I ask that you express compassion for one another and offer the sincere consideration each of us deserves.

I recognize that being on campus today was a surreal experience for many, and I urge those who need to pause, step back from their routines or to speak with others to access many available resources. We also have locations throughout campus for those who simply would like to gather together. 

Students, if you are in need of mental health support, please reach out to Counseling & Psych Services, which has additional support available. Employees, please reach out to Life & Work Connections or Employee Assistance Counseling, which will have walk-in services tomorrow as detailed in this email from Human Resources.
 

Family Weekend

Currently, we plan for most scheduled Family Weekend events to go forward. As Parent & Family Programs has shared, we embrace our community in times of joy and in sorrow, and the weekend’s events are important opportunities for our students and families to connect. Please visit the Family Weekend webpage for current information.
 
As I noted yesterday, the well-being and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors are our most important responsibilities. In consultation with University of Arizona Police Chief Paula Balafas and other law enforcement experts, we will continue to seek the most effective ways to keep our community safe.

Thank you for the concern and care that you have shown for one another and for our University community over the past 24 hours, while our thoughts continue to be with Dr. Meixner’s family, friends, students, and colleagues.

Sincerely,

Robert C. Robbins, M.D.

President
The University of Arizona

Thursday, Oct. 6, 8:00 a.m.

The Tucson campus is open today. Classes may be rescheduled or repurposed in some part by instructors to accommodate time for reflection on the loss of our beloved colleague, Tom Meixner. Support and counseling services are available to anyone in need. Please look out for communications from your instructors.

Wednesday, Oct. 5, 9:15 p.m.

Message from President Robert C. Robbins:

Dear Students and Colleagues,

I am writing with great sadness to provide an update on the shooting that occurred earlier today. We have lost a beloved member of our University of Arizona community, Dr. Thomas Meixner, Professor and Department Head of the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences.

For details on the investigation, please watch the recording of the news conference with University of Arizona Police Chief Paula Balafas, and see updates on the alerts webpage. I want to assure you that I remain committed to campus safety, and we will do everything we can to support our students, faculty and staff. 

We have reached out to Dr. Meixner’s family, and ask that their grief and privacy be respected. 

This incident is a deep shock to our community, and it is a tragedy. I have no words that can undo it, but I grieve with you for the loss, and I am pained especially for Tom’s family members, colleagues and students.

I encourage you to have compassion for one another and to care for yourselves and those around you during this difficult time. If you need help, please reach out to these resources: 

Campus safety is our foremost priority and will remain so. I want to thank the officers of the University of Arizona Police Department and partner agencies for their professionalism today, and I look forward to further engaging and activating our entire community on this issue.

Sincerely,

Robert C. Robbins, M.D.

President
The University of Arizona

Wednesday, Oct. 5, 6:55 p.m.

Law enforcement authorities have apprehended a suspect in the shooting that occurred today on the University of Arizona main campus.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officers apprehended Murad Dervish after a traffic stop near Gila Bend, Arizona, at 5:10 p.m.

For updates, please visit the Campus Shooting webpage or follow UAPD on Twitter (@UArizonaPolice).

Wednesday, Oct. 5, 5:26 p.m.

The University of Arizona experienced a shooting today on its main campus in Tucson. At approximately 2 p.m., a person entered the John W. Harshbarger Building and one victim was shot and has since died.

The university has canceled all in-person classes on the Tucson campus for the remainder of the day and is asking all non-essential faculty, staff and students to leave the Tucson campus or go to their dorms.

The University of Arizona Police Department and the Tucson Police Department continue to search for the suspect.

The suspect is described as a white male, 5 feet 8 inches tall, about 35 years old, with short brown hair, and wearing a blue baseball cap and a dark backpack.

Please remain clear of the Harshbarger Building, 1133 E. James E. Rogers Way, located northwest of the Student Union Memorial Center, and stay tuned to UAlert for the latest updates. You can sign up for UAlert using this link: https://cirt.arizona.edu/sign-ualert.

A news conference will be held at 5:30 p.m. Pacific time. It will be livestreamed at arizona.edu/live.