A statement on the Northern Illinois University tragedy by MSU Billings Chancellor Ron Sexton
February 15, 2008
To the faculty, staff and students of MSU Billings:
Once again, tragedy has struck another American university.
Today we mourn the deaths of five students at Northern Illinois University. As you probably know already, they were killed yesterday by a lone gunman who burst into a lecture hall and opened fire. The gunman — a former graduate student at NIU — left 15 people injured and five dead before killing himself.
In times of this kind of profound loss and heartbreak, words seem to fall short. But we have passed along our thoughts and prayers to our colleagues at NIU. Through the grieving and recovery process that now takes place, we grieve with them and offer our solidarity and support to them.
We also want to let you at MSU Billings know that this event provides a harsh reminder that we all should continue to be vigilant in awareness and preparation regarding such events.
Over the past several months, the university has taken steps to improve safety and emergency communications procedures. Our university police officers are more visible; emergency communications mechanisms are included in new digital clocks now placed around the university; and a new draft crisis communications plan is under review. In addition, emergency planning and procedures have been a key point of discussion with each of the finalists who have been interviewed for the university police chief position.
We strive to keep the university a safe place for teaching, learning and working and will continue to review our internal procedures and communication processes to ensure every student, every faculty member and every staff person feels safe when they are here.
It will be important, however, that we all remain aware about things that happen around us. If you see something that seems bothersome, please tell someone. If someone needs help, there are people who work here who can provide assistance.
If at any time you need law enforcement assistance, please call university police at 657-2147.
Please know that we at MSU Billings take very seriously the safety and security of everyone in our university family. Please keep our colleagues at NIU in your thoughts and please recommit yourself to making MSU Billings a safe and secure place to work and learn.
Chancellor Ronald P. Sexton