Message to Parents from President Steven Knapp

April 04, 2014

Dear GW Families,

By now you have learned that we have suffered the tragic loss of not one but two students this week.  In my twenty years in the administrations of two universities, I have from time to time had the very sad duty of meeting with a student’s grieving family and friends, but I have never before experienced two such tragedies in a single week.  I want to make sure you are fully aware of everything we are doing to respond to these devastating losses and to ensure that all our students are receiving the help they need in dealing with them.  

I want to assure you that we are drawing on the advice of experts both within and beyond the university. I have charged leaders from the university’s Milken Institute School of Public Health to mobilize resources across the university, and to take an interdisciplinary approach to ensuring the mental health and wellbeing of our students. The Psychiatry Department of the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences has also been engaged to provide additional counseling services as needed.

Counseling services are being offered on both our Foggy Bottom and Mt. Vernon campuses through our University Counseling Center (UCC), which is now offering expanded counseling hours at West Hall. The center can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 202-994-5300 or via its website.

In addition, student affairs and residence hall staff have been meeting with students one-on-one and in small groups to encourage those who may need help to seek it, but also to offer a sympathetic ear and a venue for safe conversation.

If you or anyone you know is concerned about a member of the GW community, please fill out a CARE form and a member of our staff will follow up. Also, our Office of Parent Services can be reached at 202-994-2305 or via [email protected].

Students held a vigil last night, which my wife Diane and I attended, to remember their friends and spend time with each other and other members of our community. It was a somber event, but I think it was an important step in the healing process.

Please know that the wellbeing and safety of our students is very important to me. If you have any questions about the actions we are taking, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the parent services team. Please also encourage your student to take advantage of the resources offered.


Steven Knapp