Participants in Sunday's convocation.

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Forum: Responding to tragedy, coping with grief, institutional crisis management

View the convocation image gallery

LEWISBURG, Pa. - The Bucknell community gathered on the Academic Quad to reflect on the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

During the convocation, speakers from across the campus community spoke, including Provost Mary DeCredico, who reassured students about security at Bucknell and that the university would examine all aspects of its crisis management plans.

"I assure you on behalf of President (Brian C.) Mitchell and everyone who works at this institution that we will examine with intensity and focus every aspect of our crisis management and our emergency preparedness plans - from the training and equipment of relevant staff to the communications technologies at our disposal to the way we manage our facilities, and more," said DeCredico. (Listen to the provost's address.)

The provost spoke on behalf of President Mitchell whose mother passed away Saturday.

Courage, resolve and compassion
With the sun setting behind the Academic Quad, DeCredico told the nearly 300 attending that the Virginia Tech community had exemplified courage, resolve, and compassion.

"Tonight we come together at the heart of this beautiful campus on this phenomenal evening with confidence and hope because we know the resilience of great communities as we have seen at Virginia Tech day after day," she said.

University Chaplain Ian Oliver said that nearly a week after the tragic events on the Blacksburg campus "we gather to do what a university community does best: to reflect on the meaning of these events and where they point us in the future. We remember each of the 33 young people and professors and mourn the suffering and the loss. We gather to honor them with our presence." (Listen to the chaplain's closing remarks.)

'We are all Hokies'
Senior Katie Urosevich said the purpose of the evening was a special one. "We may have come here as students, administrators, faculty, and community members, but our purpose is one: to support the Virginia Tech community," Urosevich said. "So, in fact, tonight, we are all Hokies."

But she added that the tragedy would leave a mark on her generation.

"As a generation, we've witnessed Columbine, 9/11, and now Virginia Tech. We will always hold these tragedies in our mind, but we refuse to be defined by them," she said. "Instead, we continue to gain strength from them. Strength in ourselves. Strength to reach out to others. And strength to heal and hope."

Remember the beauty
Eric Mazur, associate professor of religion, said, "We must remember the beauty of the world or we will be overcome by ugliness. We must remember the love in the world or we will be overcome by hate. We must remember the joy in the world or we will be overcome by grief. We must laugh and love and take care of ourselves and each other even as we remember and say goodbye."

Steven Shooter, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, talked about his time teaching at Virginia Tech and what he has learned from his students. "I learned about the community among individuals and connections with community," Shooter said. "But most important of all, I learned the power that each and every one of us can wield with three simple words: How are you?"

Paula Bryden, a staff member in the Office of Communications whose daughter is a senior at Virginia Tech, spoke about how the Bucknell community has helped her through recent days.

'A Hokie mom in Bison country'
"I am blessed to be a Hokie mom living in Bison country," she said. "I've had the love and support of the Bison community to build my bridge between the two 'burgs - Lewis and Blacksburg. It doesn't get much better than that."

Bryden finished by leading those in attendance through the Virginia Tech chant: "Let's go Hokies."

Special music for the occasion was provided by the student group Beyond Unison. The group ended the convocation by singing the first verse of both the Virginia Tech and Bucknell alma maters.

The Bucknell community at Sunday's convocation.

Posted April 23, 2007