SUNY Cortland president on Oregon shooting: "Positively staggering"

CORTLAND, N.Y. – SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum sent the following message Friday to the SUNY Cortland community in response to Thursday’s tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

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To the SUNY Cortland Community:

Erik Bitterbaum

Erik Bitterbaum

On behalf of SUNY Cortland, I extend our deepest condolences to Interim President Rita Caven and the Umpqua Community College community. The loss of ten innocent lives and the injury to at least seven others in Oregon is positively staggering and is indeed cause for great mourning.

Unfortunately, we live in an age in which tragedies of this type have the potential to occur in any given workplace. Colleges and universities are special places that promote openness and freedom of discourse and action. In most cases that energy is expressed in positive ways, like our own Transformations Day. It is difficult to conceive of the need or desire to curtail that vitality. As an institution we must accept the responsibility of protecting our campus in practical ways to ensure that enlightened scholarship can continue to thrive.

Interim President Caven commented that yesterday was “the saddest day in the history of the college,” and indicated that it would take a while before the institution would return to normalcy. We are confident that in time Umpqua Community College will be able to rise above this devastating tragedy. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with their community and the families of the victims. We wish our sister institution swift healing and recovery.

Erik J. Bitterbaum

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