August 30, 2019

Dear CSU Faculty, Staff and Students,

I write to all of you today to wish you a wonderful long Labor Day weekend.  But I also know that we are heading into this holiday weekend with heavy hearts.  Over the past week, two of our undergraduate students were involved in serious vehicular accidents. Student Vincent Braud died last weekend in a single-vehicle motorcycle crash off campus, and on Monday evening first-year student and ROTC member TJ Avery was struck by a car on campus. His current condition remains private.

To those of you who are shaken and heart-broken, I urge you to seek out our many on-campus resources—and if you have friends or colleagues who are struggling with either of these tragic events, refer them to our resources as well.  Please don’t hesitate to seek support, now or a few months from now, whatever your role in our community and whatever your connection may have been to either of these students.

In the wake of events like these, we are all thinking hard about our students’ safety. We are determined to do all we can to educate our community and prevent future accidents.

Our police department already enforces traffic regulations for vehicles and bicycles on campus, while Parking and Transportation Services employs “Rambassadors” to provide on-campus education to commuters about safety. In recent years we have enhanced pedestrian and bicyclist safety through measures like the creation of dedicated underpasses. This week I asked our staff to pursue an enhanced pedestrian safety initiative. I also reached out to the mayor of Fort Collins to discuss partnering on pedestrian safety more broadly for students and employees commuting to, from, and on campus. Our Public Safety Team will be actively examining pedestrian safety and we are reviewing all campus safety standards.

Whenever we lose a student, our community feels their loss deeply.  But in sharing our sorrow, and in coming together to celebrate their lives, we draw on our resilience and connectedness to keep going and to approach this new academic year with hope and engagement and energy.

In struggling myself to process these accidents, I found myself thinking of the words of an Army chaplain I once knew: Life is short and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind.

In my brief experience of the CSU family, this is already how all of you live your lives.  Let’s do so even more thoughtfully and more intentionally in the weeks and months to come.  Have a restful holiday weekend and a wonderful semester.


Joyce McConnell


Colorado State University