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Dear Faculty Colleagues,

The beginning of fall semester is normally a busy but happy time of settling into a new academic year and getting to know new groups of eager and enthusiastic students. This year, the second week of classes brought collective trauma to our campus community, when our friend and colleague Prof. Zijie Yan was killed as the result of an act of violence that prompted an hours-long lockdown on our campus. Our hearts are with Prof. Yan’s colleagues in the Department of Applied Physical Sciences, his family members, and loved ones during this time of devastating loss.

As faculty members, we experience the impact of this tragedy in multiple ways. As we mourn the death of our colleague, we are also navigating heightened safety concerns as we return to campus, worries about how to best respond to our students’ needs, and the desire to support our colleagues in the workplace.

The effects of trauma are varied, complex, and long-lasting. We in the Office of Faculty Governance are working with the Provost’s Office, the Center for Faculty Excellence, and others on campus to create and compile resources, assistance, and opportunities for faculty that are tailored to yesterday’s events and trauma-informed. We will be in touch over the next few days to disseminate this information. I encourage you to access those resources that resonate with you, recognizing that people find solace and support in different ways.

I am grateful to the faculty, staff, and first responders for their heroic efforts to keep us safe yesterday, and to everyone in the campus community who looked out for each other. During the lockdown, people barricaded doorways together, comforted each other, and shared snacks and water. Many of us experienced the outpouring of support from those outside the UNC community as well—from the friends who checked in via text, to offers of free meals and transportation to those stranded on campus, to statements of support from other campuses. These gestures of human kindness are a testament to the connectedness and resilience of our campus community.

As we mourn this horrific tragedy, please take care of yourselves and one another. Together we will heal ourselves and our Carolina community.

In solidarity,


Kathryn E. (Beth) Moracco, PhD, MPH
Chair of the Faculty
Associate Professor of Health Behavior

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