KETR

University President Addresses Campus Safety, Crisis Communication Around Monday Shooting

Feb 5, 2020

Texas A&M University-Commerce president Mark Rudin shared a message with faculty and staff on Wednesday aimed at sharing the campus' Safety Action Plan as well as providing some insight into the process surrouding decisions to share certain information.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Lion Family –

We are all shocked and saddened by the shooting that occurred on our campus earlier this week.  Please continue to keep the victims of this senseless crime, Deja Matts, Abbaney Matts, and her two-year old son, in your thoughts and prayers.  I also ask that you pray for the extended family of these individuals in the hope that they will heal and once again find peace and happiness in their lives.

There is a saying that joy is born in sorrow.  I can’t quite find a path in my mind that gets us to feeling joyous from this situation.  However, I can see how our Lion family has banded together and has found comfort in one another during this time of grief.  I would be remiss if I did not mention a couple of things for which I am thankful.  First, the number of people who have reached out to me and the university with condolences has been a bit overwhelming, but very much welcomed and appreciated. I hope one day to be able to reach out to each one of you individually in order to reciprocate the compassion and caring in each of the emails and messages I received. I understand the frustration that many folks have expressed regarding the amount of information coming out of the university related to this incident.  Like you, I want to know exactly what is going on during every step of the investigation.  However, that simply is not possible.  Many of the things we wanted to say publicly to students, faculty, staff and families could have potentially jeopardized the criminal case against a suspect being pursued by our University Police Department and the Texas Rangers.  In part, because we conducted ourselves in a very disciplined manner, and respected the rights of the victims’ family, the authorities were able to make an arrest of a suspect in this case in approximately 36 hours after the incident.  Speaking of the authorities, our University Police Department did an outstanding job in handling this case.  I saw first-hand how they were able to find balance between caring and supporting our campus, and bringing the suspect to justice.  I am proud to work with them.  I am also thankful for our amazing students who have demonstrated a great sense of care and compassion for each other and their campus community. Finally, a special thanks goes to our faculty and staff who wake up every day with a commitment to the success  and welfare of our outstanding students. I am thankful to call them colleagues.

I cannot stress enough that the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is our number one priority at Texas A&M University-Commerce. And, although we have made much progress in the area of safety on our campus, we can, and should, always do better.  We live in a world now wherewhat happened on our campus can, unfortunately, happen anywhere.  We have been diligent when it comes to safety and security, and we need to be proactive and constantly reassessing if we are doing enough.  Consequently, we are issuing the attached Campus Safety Action Plan for immediate implementation.  As mentioned in the plan, I would appreciate any feedback, recommendations, additions, etc. that you may have.  This will be a dynamic, fluid document that will be continually improved, and updates will be communicated on our website.  Our only option is a sustained, continuous improvement of safety on our campus.

Thank you all again.  We will get through this together – that’s what Lions do.

Let’s go grab a coffee some time,

Mark