President Finegold: The Tree of Life Tragedy

Dear Chatham Community, 

Shock, sorrow, pain and anger are just some of the emotions that, like many of you, I’m feeling today in response to the tragic shooting at Tree of Life near our campus. I wish I was there with you right now, but was in transit to China for a series of meetings with universities while the events were unfolding.  It is a sign of the truly global world that we live in that I had communications of concern and support from friends and colleagues all over the world within minutes of the shooting. 

As we move forward as a campus community in coming to grips with this horrible incident, I know that the Chatham community stands in solidarity and compassion with our neighbors, partners and friends at the Tree of Life of Synagogue, in the Squirrel Hill area and in the larger Jewish community of Pittsburgh and around the world and have been in touch with the leaders of the community to convey our support. We grieve for the victims and their families, and we thank the law enforcement officers and other first responders who rushed in to help with this tragedy.  

This was a complex, fast-moving, and scary situation unfolding near our campus. I would like to thank the Chatham public safety officers and all staff and faculty who helped assist today in working with the Pittsburgh City Police and the FBI, controlling access to campus, and alerting those on campus—including those here for Friends & Family weekend and an Admissions visit—to the situation. Once the suspect was in custody, we cancelled all campus events for the remainder of the day out of an abundance of caution and respect for those impacted by the incident.  

I would also like to apologize for the erroneous campus OmniAlert message that went out during the crisis indicating there was an active shooter physically on campus. It was a technical malfunction and was corrected within minutes. We are conducting a review of the system and processes to ensure something like that does not happen again.

Counseling and support services are available for all students, and we will have additional security and student support services available throughout the weekend and next week.

During this time of grieving and processing, please be sure to take care of yourself and each other. I firmly believe that we must, now more than ever, embrace our mission to create a diverse and inclusive community—here on campus and in the larger society—as we are always stronger together than divided. 


David Finegold



Chatham University