Dear University Community:

I write to you with a sense of great sadness and at a time of enormous grief for our Pittsburgh community.

We are grieving the senseless murder of 11 innocent lives who had gathered in prayer. We are grieving those wounded during the attack. And we are grieving that the promise of seeking sanctuary in a place of worship has been shaken—violated by an act of pure anti-Semitism. And, most of all, we are grieving with those who have lost someone they love. 

Pittsburgh is a city both immense in its ambitions and intimate in its connections. It is hardly surprising that this tragedy has impacted members across our University of Pittsburgh community in innumerable ways. We have lost family members, colleagues, volunteers, teachers and friends, and this reality has left many of us—while still here and still breathing—struggling to carry on.  

But, even within the darkest moments of tragedy, there is a way forward.      

While shots were still being fired, responding police officers put their own lives at risk and entered the building to stop the shooter. 

Emergency medical personnel mobilized to treat the wounded.  

Counselors stepped up to comfort survivors and those most impacted.

Volunteers sprang into action, donating resources, blood, meals and help. 

Neighbors and friends reconnected—across sidewalks, laptops, phones and states, while millions of strangers from around the world shared messages of love and support.

And Pittsburgh came together—as Pittsburghers do—in an unequivocal show of solidarity against hate. 

Craig Fugate, who was formerly the head of FEMA, once told me that communities under duress tend to react one of two ways. They either tip out or tip in. Communities that tip out are weakened by chaos and lose something essential—their core—in the wake of a disaster. On the contrary, communities that tip in band together, bolstering their core and growing even stronger as a result.  

The last 48 hours have led me to believe that in the aftermath of this horrific act, our community will tip decisively in. We will continue to come together, support one another and collectively reject hatred. And Pittsburgh—a city forged from an alloy that is equal parts collaboration and intrepid resiliency—will grow stronger as a result. 

Even in this moment of intense grief—and unimaginable sorrow—do not hesitate to tip in.    

Consider the ways in which you can not only express your sympathies during this sad time but also demonstrate your solidarity and support. There will be many opportunities to get involved. To show up. And get engaged. There will be public vigils, volunteer opportunities and chances to show kindness, compassion and support.

When compounded, these small and simple acts tell a powerful story. They remind the rest of world that, when struck with hate and divisiveness, this city—and this community—rises to action, leans on one another, tips in and grows even stronger.    

Patrick Gallagher