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President's Message to VSU Community

Published date: April 24, 2013

This week, the entire VSU community was shaken by the tragic loss of two of our own. Freshmen Jauwan Holmes and Marvell Edmondson were taken far too soon. Jauwan and Marvell were young men of promise and potential. They were loved by friends, classmates and family.

The loss of these two students is obviously very important. Our campus tragedy has united us in common grief. Together we waited, prayed and grieved. Through tragedy, our students shined brightly! With media eyes glaring, our students displayed the Trojan dignity and pride for which VSU is known! To the students who organized vigils, who held one another, who listened with an open ear and open mind, we are eternally grateful.

As a community, we offer profound thanks to the Chesterfield County Fire and Emergency Medical Service teams; the police departments in Chesterfield, Colonial Heights and Petersburg; the Virginia State Police who flew helicopter missions; and our own Department of Police and Public Safety. These agencies along with University administrators combined for over 4,000 man-hours of effort to bring our students to their families. For this dedication and commitment, we commend you.

While the events of the past week have been painful, we should remember that through adversity comes strength. By coming together, we have become stronger. Through our grief, we have become more focused on our vision and our mission. When something precious was taken away, we gained more appreciation for the blessings in our midst.

The tragedy of April 20, 2013 gave me pause to reflect. What does it mean to Build A Better World?

I look at our students, so much eagerness to learn; so vibrant and full of potential; and so inquisitive. How would Jauwan and Marvell have contributed to building a better world?Perhaps out of tragedy comes our answer. Outdated rituals performed in the name of brotherhood have no place in this better world. As an institution, as a community, we will not tolerate this behavior. We must learn the lessons of Jauwan and Marvell to ensure that these young men’s deaths were not in vain.

It is now time for the VSU community to stand tall. We shall rise above this and we shall be better from it! May God bless our Virginia State University and may God bless you and your loved ones.


Keith T. Miller

Keith T. Miller


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