Dec. 7, 2023

Dear University Community, 

Yesterday was the most difficult day in the history of our university. Words are still hard to come by as we’re only beginning to process the grief, loss, anger, and fear associated with Wednesday’s tragic campus shooting that took the lives of three of our cherished faculty members. Another faculty member remains hospitalized. 

We’ve now learned that two of the victims who passed away – Patricia Navarro-Velez and Jerry Cha-Jan Chang – were members of our Lee Business School faculty. The third victim, also a UNLV faculty member, will be identified following notification of next of kin. 

Dr. Navarro-Velez, an assistant professor of accounting, had devoted her career to educating the next generation of accountants. She joined UNLV nearly five years ago as a professor of accounting, where she primarily focused on teaching accounting information systems. 

Dr. Chang was a longtime educator of management information systems, spending more than 20 years of his academic career teaching a generation of UNLV Lee Business School students.

My heart breaks for the families, friends, and loved ones of Dr. Navarro and Dr. Chang, and for all of the victims of this senseless act of violence that has physically and emotionally affected so many. 

The incredible outpouring of love, support, and concern directed to UNLV and our students and staff over the last 24 hours provides great comfort during this trying time. While what happened yesterday is in many ways the realization of our greatest fear, we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for our brave men and women in University Police Services, who along with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Clark County Fire Department and other first responders answered the call to action swiftly, decisively, and in a manner indicative of their intense training and coordination.

I had the opportunity this morning to speak with and listen to students residing on campus. During this time, it’s especially important for all of us to be there for each other and I am committed to doing all I can for all of our students and staff – to listen, to comfort, and to let them know we care deeply about them and their wellbeing.

What students, employees, and campus visitors endured yesterday during the shooting and the tense aftermath is life-changing. I again thank everyone for taking the call to shelter in place seriously. It was imperative for law enforcement to clear every room in every building on our campus to ensure continued safety, and I’m grateful for the immense courage and cooperation you all showed. 

I’m also grateful to Clark County and the community partners operating the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center in the immediate aftermath of yesterday’s incident. They served as a reunification and resource site for many students, staff, and family members and counseling, food, transportation and other services. 

I won’t sugarcoat it. We are all hurting right now. But it’s in these trying times that we need to lean on one another for support. I urge you to check in on each other and utilize counseling services if you need them, which are available through CAPS, the Employee Assistance Program, or by contacting the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center at 702-455-AIDE or at

I am in the process of working with the university’s senior leadership team, in coordination with the Nevada System of Higher Education, to determine timing of the remainder of our academic calendar this semester, including finals and commencement. I anticipate sharing an update on Friday. 

I encourage everyone to visit for continuing updates on resources, campus operations, and more in the coming days. We can and will get through this together if we help one another. 

Keith E. Whitfield, Ph.D.