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Message from President Gast on campus safety

As our campus community continues to reflect on the tragedy at Virginia Tech, we join our colleagues and friends in the higher education community and other citizens of the nation and world in sending our thoughts and prayers and support to the families and members of the entire Virginia Tech community.

We, like our colleagues on other college campuses, are closely examining what happened and are turning our focus to the emergency plans and practices we have in place. We regularly review our existing emergency plans to ensure that we are prepared to the best of our abilities to effectively respond to situations and maintain campus safety. In light of the events this week, we are quickly assessing what else we might do to revise those plans.

We know that the most effective way to communicate during an emergency is through a combination of electronic and personal contacts. I have convened a small group of campus experts to identify the best way to incorporate technologies, such as delivering text messages to cell phones, to augment existing approaches we have in place, including using Gryphons, Residence Life and Greek Life Coordinators, among others, to get messages out quickly and effectively.

For more information about our approach to campus safety, please read Campus safety at Lehigh.

We approach campus safety as a partnership that involves our entire campus community, including our students, staff and faculty. If you have ideas on how we can improve campus security, please share them with me at pres@lehigh.edu.

On Friday, April 20, we will join our fellow Pennsylvanians in observing a day of mourning to honor the victims of the tragedy. As Gov. Rendell has urged, Lehigh will join other institutions, churches, and cathedrals across Pennsylvania in ringing bells at noon in a special tribute to the victims.

As I have been following the events at Virginia Tech this week, I am pleased to see groups of students, faculty, staff, and alumni coming together in a show of support for each other and for the victims of the tragic event. During these difficult days, it is more important than ever for us to pull together in common purpose, and to support and respect all members of our own community.

There are a number of support services available for members of the Lehigh community and I encourage anyone who feels the need for help to make use of them. For students, help is available through our University Counseling and Psychological Services (610-758-3880) and Dean of Students Offices (610-758-4159).

For faculty and staff, our Employee Assistance Program offers help and support, such as coping skills and a list of helpful resources, available on a special Web site: Coping with the Virginia Tech tragedy.

I encourage each of you to keep the Virginia Tech community in your thoughts and prayers. Let us also be mindful of the impact it has on members of our own Lehigh community. I will count on each of us to take responsibility to care for and support one another.

Alice P. Gast
Lehigh University President


Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2007

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