December 11, 2018
Dear UT Community,
This morning, a state district judge in Austin reached a verdict in the trial of Kendrex White, a former UT student who killed freshman Harrison Brown and injured three other students on campus in May of 2017. The judge found White not guilty by reason of insanity and committed him to a maximum security mental hospital.
I’m sure that this verdict will cause a wide range of responses within our community. It brings back painful memories.
May 1, 2017, was one of the darkest days in the history of our university. Four students were attacked without reason in the middle of the afternoon. Three of them bravely battled back from their injuries to return to UT, but they lost the sense of safety and well-being that should be the foundation of the college experience. And the Browns lost a beloved son and brother — the energetic heartbeat at the center of their family in Graham, Texas. There is no greater tragedy.
When I think back on that day, I am filled with sadness. But I also remember the outpouring of compassion that came afterward. And it was inspired by Harrison. The memories his family and friends had of him. His sincerity. His singing. The lives he touched. The legacy of kindness he left behind.
Harrison once wrote, “Leading with the heart, not only will bring success, but also joy and happiness … What a person wants the most will always be followed by their heart.” I think of those words today. They were wise beyond the years of the young man who wrote them. Open-hearted. Generous in spirit. That’s how we remember Harrison Brown.
Gregory L. Fenves