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President's Message Regarding Newtown Tragedy

Updated: Monday, December 17, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.

Dear UNH Community,

It is with great sadness and heaviness of heart that I inform you that we have lost three members of the extended University of New Haven family due to the Sandy Hook tragedy.  

UNH alumnus Dean Pinto '94 lost his son, Jack, a first-grade student at the elementary school. Dean's Delta Chi fraternity brothers attended the service for his son today in Newtown.

Victoria Leigh Soto, a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook who died shielding students from gunfire, is the cousin of both Jen Pjatak, director of alumni relations, and UNH student Alex Fagan, a junior majoring in criminal justice. Funeral services will take place this Wednesday in Stratford.

And Anne Marie Murphy, the mother of two of our recent graduates, was a special education teacher who also died while protecting her students. Her daughters are Colleen Murphy '12, who received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and Kelly Murphy '12 M.S., who studied education at the University. The family has asked that memorial donations be made to, and the Education Department is collecting contributions for a donation.  The funeral service will be this Thursday in Katonah, New York.

I want to recognize members of the UNH ice hockey and lacrosse teams, who spent time today in Newtown playing games and interacting with children from Sandy Hook. Their caring and community outreach epitomize the depth of character our students continually demonstrate. They are to be commended.

I wish to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of the victims of this terrible tragedy. This evening, the University will hold a vigil in honor of all those who died in Newtown. The service will take place at 6 p.m. in the Alumni Lounge, Bartels Hall, and will be led by University Chaplain Martin O'Connor.  

As each of us reflects upon this horrendous loss of so many promising lives, both young and old, we must look deep into our hearts and search for ways that we can make a positive impact on this world. We owe this to those who died so needlessly.

With great sorrow,

Steve Kaplan