August 1, 2016
Dear UT Community,
Today is a profound day for The University of Texas at Austin as we mark 50 years since a gunman shot fifty people from atop the Tower. Seventeen people died as a result of that tragic day’s events, leaving a scar on our university that will last forever.
This morning, just after 11:30 a.m., we will gather on the Main Mall to remember. We will then walk in procession north of the Main Building to the Tower Garden to dedicate a memorial planned by survivors and university staff members. We will read the names of those who lost their lives, celebrate the bravery of those who protected the campus, and continue to offer support to the hundreds who were here that day as they continue a lifelong healing process.
For the second time in university history, we will stop the Tower Clock. It will remain at 11:48 for 24 hours to commemorate the moment when the shootings began.
Fifty years ago, the UT community responded to this tragedy, the first mass shooting at a university, by trying to carry on with normal business. Survivors did not receive the support they needed, which we now know is so important. Individuals grieved privately, but we did not as a community. Although we cannot change the past, I hope today's ceremony, the new memorial, and our ongoing engagement with the brave survivors are meaningful to both them and to you.
Today also marks the implementation of the state's campus carry law. I understand the concerns that most faculty members, staffers, and students have raised about the law and also realize it is tempting to draw connections between these two events. I am proud of how the UT community has worked together to prepare for the new law, at times disagreeing and expressing passionate views but always in a respectful and productive manner.
However, on this solemn occasion, we owe the victims, survivors, and their loved ones the full recognition they deserve as we dedicate a memorial that will last well beyond our time here. I ask you to join me at the ceremony today.
Gregory L. Fenves