This has been one of the most tragic events in the history of this University and we are so deeply saddened by the death of Lauren McCluskey.
I was in China when the horrible incident took place and came back as soon as I was informed of the tragedy.
I have spoken with the McCluskey family, her classmates, and friends. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join with her friends and teammates in athletics and the love, affection and respect they had for Lauren was palpable.
I also spoke at the moving vigil last night for Lauren at the Park Building, which was organized by our students, where the larger campus community came together to mourn and honor Lauren.
Earlier today, I had the great honor and privilege of posthumously awarding a degree in communications to Lauren and presented to her family. It was a gesture intended to express how important Lauren was to our campus community.
We are all too aware that we don’t have a degree that would adequately acknowledge the outstanding contributions that Lauren made to this University and to her field of study.
She was not only an outstanding student, but she distinguished herself as a member of our track and field team.
As our Athletics Director Mark Harlan has said, Lauren was the very model of a student athlete.
In my conversations with the McCluskey family, I have made it very clear that Lauren’s legacy will never be forgotten and equally important, that we are determined to learn from this tragedy to ensure that we do better as a University.
We are committed to doing everything we can to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again on our campus.
To that end, I want to share with you our plans to initiate two separate reviews: one of campus safety and the other specifically focused on the actions our police department took in response to Lauren’s initial complaint.
In the first case, I have asked our Campus Safety Task Force to reconvene under the leadership of an outside, independent expert to examine every aspect of campus safety and security.
While great progress was made in the past two years, I strongly believe that this tragic incident requires us to revisit every aspect of campus safety and to do so with an independent expert.
We will share more information on this with you, but I want you to know that this is commencing immediately.
Again, the review will be independent and we will leave no stone unturned in determining anything we can do to prevent something like this from happening again on our campus.
Let me close by saying that as a parent who was able to see our daughter graduate from college twice, I cannot adequately express my deepest sympathy for the unimaginable pain and suffering Lauren’s loss is causing the McCluskey family.
I can only hope that they can take some comfort in the tremendous outpouring of support that has come from our students, our faculty and the entire University of Utah community.
We will never forget Lauren and we will honor her memory by learning from this tragedy to make the University of Utah campus a safer place for everyone.