Engineering Now .: Volume 3 - Edition 9 .: April 2007

Western Engineering shares in grief

By Paul Mayne, Western News

The April 16 shooting tragedy on the campus of Virginia Tech has been felt by all, but perhaps more intensely at engineering schools around the world -- 30 of the 32 students and professors killed were directly involved in that field of study.

Several dozen Western Engineering students and others held a memorial April 20 to honour those whose lives were cut short because of this horrific incident.

The service provided evidence of the importance of reaching out during times of inexplicable actions. Engineering Dean Franco Berruti read aloud a letter he received from Virginia Tech Engineering Dean Richard Benson in response to condolences sent on behalf of Western Engineering.

Here is that conversation:

Dear Dean Benson:
On behalf of the faculty, staff and students in the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Western Ontario (Canada), please accept our heartfelt condolences for the unspeakable tragedy that has taken place at Virginia Tech. I can tell you that we have been watching news coverage of this horrible event, knowing that it could have taken place on any campus in North America.

Those of us who are charged with influencing the future of young people are both incredibly privileged and many times challenged not knowing the forces that drive those whose paths we cross in our work. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and all those affected by this tragedy.

Yours respectfully,
Franco Berruti


Dear Franco:
It will take me some time to catch up with all of the e-mail this week. Thank you for writing to express concern about the terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech. Your words of support are being heard and mean more to us than I can possibly describe.

This week has been one of unspeakable horror and grief, but it has also been our finest week. The acts of courage, kindness and compassion have been beyond measure. We lost many in the College of Engineering. Those that lived, despite their grief, have responded determinedly – heroically - to heal wounds and to help this great College and University survive.

On Tuesday (April 17), Virginia Tech professor of poetry Nikki Giovanni delivered inspiring words at the memorial convocation in part, she said:

“The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds.

We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness We are the Hokies. We will prevail.”

Nikki is right.

Richard Benson,
Dean of Engineering
Virginia Tech

Also from this web page:


.: Allison Stevenson
Spencer Engineering Building, Room 2074
Telephone: (519) 850-2917 Fax: (519) 661-3808