April 16 Memorial and Burruss Hall

March 12, 2017

As students return from what I hope was an enjoyable and relaxing spring break and as faculty prepare to return to their classrooms, studios and labs for the final nine weeks of the 2016-17 academic year, I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to everyone in our community.

No doubt there is still much more for us to accomplish — coursework to be done, projects to be completed, and events and activities to be held. But it won’t be long before graduates and their families gather in Lane Stadium to hear Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s inspirational University Commencement address on May 12. To our soon-to-be graduates, I encourage you to reflect on what you are about to achieve, and the family members, friends, and faculty who have helped you along the way.

I also wanted to note that in the coming weeks, our community will observe a deeply significant moment in our university’s history — the 10th year since the tragic events of April 16, 2007. Ten years is an important milestone as people from all over the world, especially those in our own community, pause and reflect on the unthinkable tragedy that occurred that day.

Though I was not in Blacksburg at that time, I, like so many others, saw the tragedy unfold from afar. In the immediate aftermath I was awestruck by the way Virginia Tech’s great spirit of community grew even stronger as it united. That incredible spirit persists to this day.

The Virginia Tech community will never forget the 32 students and faculty whose lives were taken from us. To commemorate those very special people and the families that loved them dearly, the university will hold several observances, including those on April 16 (Easter Sunday), our Day of Remembrance.

We recognize that there are many people who were deeply affected by the tragic events of 2007, and through these events we hope to reaffirm the importance of community, both then and now.

For many, this will be a difficult and emotional time. I urge you to take care of yourself, and understand that it is normal to feel uneasy, distressed, apprehensive, confused, or to be unsure of what you’re feeling. If you need to, reach out, seek help, and talk to others for support and understanding. And please be mindful of friends and colleagues who may also struggle at this time and encourage them to seek assistance.

It is together — as a community — that we endure difficult times.

May strength and success be with you as we begin the final stretch of our academic year.

Tim Sands President, Virginia Tech

Those in the university community who may wish assistance or desire counseling support may contact:

  • Cook Counseling Center at 540-231-6557
  • Dean of Students Office at 540-231-3787
  • Office of Housing and Residence Life at 540-231-6205
  • Department of Human Resources / Hokie Wellness at 540-231-9331
  • Employee Assistance Program
    • Anthem at 855-223-9277
    • Aetna at 888-238-6232 (company name: Commonwealth of Virginia, username: COVA, password: COVA)
    • Kaiser Permanente at 866-517-7042
  • Referrals to a campus cleric may be done through the Dean of Students Office at 540-231-3787.