Message from President John M. Lilley: Baylor Responds To The Tragedy At Virginia Tech

April 17, 2007

(To access Baylor's response to the Virginia Tech tragedy, including links to University services, statements and news releases, and local and state news stories, go to: Baylor Responds To The Tragedy At Virginia Tech.)

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media relations, (254) 710-6275

Below is a message from Baylor President John M. Lilley, expressing the University's deepest sympathy to the Virginia Tech University community, as they continue to cope with an unimaginable tragedy. The president also addresses Baylor's emergency preparedness procedures.

To the Baylor Family:

"Let me first say that all of us responsible for Baylor University have watched the events at Virginia Tech with great sorrow. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of everyone who was harmed by this unimaginable tragedy, and our deepest prayers are with them at this very moment.

"On Tuesday, Baylor joined Virginia Tech and other colleges and universities around the country for a moment of silence.

"As chapel bells rang at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Blacksburg, Va., the bells in Baylor's McLane Carillon simultaneously rang 32 times, one stroke for each of those who died on Monday. The tolling of the bells was followed by two hymns - "St. Columba," the text of which paraphrases Psalm 23, and "Amazing Grace" - played by our University Carillonneur Lynnette Geary.

"The University carillon bells echoing across the campus provided our students, faculty and staff with a powerful time of reflection, as they paused to remember in prayer the many individuals and families who have been touched by this terrible tragedy.

[Audio of the bells is available here.]

"In addition, the flags on the Baylor campus will fly at half-staff through Sunday, as a continued expression of our concern for the Virginia Tech family.

"We have also asked ourselves how prepared we are for such an occurrence.

"While preventing such an attack with 100 percent certainty is impossible, I want to reassure you that we do have systems in place to respond to emergencies on campus, and to minimize harm to our students, staff and faculty.

"We have 24 fully trained and commissioned police officers who conduct specific crisis simulation training exercises. We have general rules about closing campus and protocols for handling a variety of specific situations. Ultimately we will rely on the training and judgment of our police officers and the local law enforcement agencies with whom we cooperate to help us make the right decision in a specific situation.

"We have an emergency public address system in all residence halls and some academic buildings to communicate public safety information as necessary. We also have a new dual email/voice mail emergency notification system that has recently been installed.

"We have a crisis management team composed of staff and administrators from across the university that has very specific protocols for handling a variety of campus emergencies. This group also conducts crisis simulation training exercises. We will convene this group next week (once we have more facts) to go through the incident at Virginia Tech and to review our plans for handling such a situation in light of this recent experience.

"It is impossible to predict when such tragedies will happen, but we are making our best effort to be prepared in case the unthinkable occurs.

"In the meantime, I know the entire Baylor University family joins me in extending our heartfelt sympathy and our deepest prayers to the Virginia Tech community."

John M. Lilley

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