November 20, 2022
Dear Brandeis Community,
I know that sadness over last night's fatal shuttle accident is rippling through our community today. We are all experiencing the shock of such a terrible accident, and everyone's recovery will take time.
The Waltham Police Department has identified the person who tragically died in the crash as undergraduate student Vanessa Mark. While Vanessa was currently on leave, she was living in Waltham and was an active and cherished member of the Brandeis community. We have been in touch with Vanessa's family and will continue to stay in contact with them in the coming days, and we will keep you updated about ways we will honor Vanessa's memory.
Given the tragedy that our community is experiencing, Provost Carol Fierke and I have decided that classes scheduled for Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 21 and 22) will be canceled. This will enable some students to return to family and friends sooner than the normal holiday schedule would have allowed. For students who will remain on campus, we will have additional opportunities to gather and receive support.
I want to reiterate the resources that are available for us to draw upon at this difficult time. Students can contact the Brandeis Counseling Center 24-7 at 781-736-3730. The Counseling Center will be open Sunday until 4 p.m. with grief counselors available; students are encouraged to drop in for support. The Dean of Students Office, the Office of Graduate Student Affairs, and the Center for Spiritual Life will be open Monday-Wednesday this week. Staff and faculty who may be struggling with this loss can get help through the Employee Assistance Plan. Most importantly, we all need to support and comfort each other.
Adding to the difficulty of absorbing such painful news is the fact that we all have many unanswered questions at this time. We have been working with Waltham Police as the accident is investigated and will continue to be in close contact with the department. Nothing is more important than the safety of our students, and we are committed to learning all that we can about how this happened. University leaders will continue to share information as we learn more.
In a few days, many of us will be gathering with family and friends; while this holiday may be difficult, it is my hope that spending time with loved ones will help us begin to heal. When we return from the break, I know our community will continue to come together in support of one another.