September 15, 2022

Community Care and Action Following August 29 Accident

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

Students come to Lewis & Clark seeking a world-class liberal arts education that will prepare them to be engaged critical thinkers, ready to change the world. They also expect the campus environment to be safe, inclusive, and welcoming. As president of Lewis & Clark, I share those expectations.

While we cannot undo the tragic events of August 29 that led to the death of one student and the injury of two others, there are some actions we will take in the days ahead. One of those is to continue to lift up the family of the student who died and to care for the two injured students. This is a heart-rending time, especially for the family of the student who died, and I know they appreciate that the campus community has been keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.

Safety Assessments

We are reviewing our safety assessments and will update policies as needed. With those goals in mind, I asked for a briefing from our facilities team. Here’s what I have learned: The City of Portland Fire and Rescue, the State of Oregon, our insurance carrier, and various outside vendors conduct regular inspections of the infrastructure and building systems in our facilities to assess safety and other conditions. Those inspections and assessments are in addition to our facilities team’s own ongoing assessment of maintenance and safety on a daily basis throughout the year.

Moving forward, we will continue to do these inspections, generally on an annual or biennial basis. In addition, we will do a targeted, in-depth assessment of the historic Manor House Estate Gardens and the structures located throughout the gardens. If that assessment indicates that safety improvements are necessary, we will make them.

Hammocking Policy

We are in the process of updating the Recreational Activities Policy to ensure students are aware of the best and safest ways to utilize a hammock on campus. Detailed information about that policy is expected to be available shortly. In the meantime, students and all other community members are asked to limit their use of hammocks on campus to areas where they can be strung between two Douglas Fir trees of at least 1 foot in diameter each. Hammock users are also asked to limit hammocking to no more than one person per pair of trees.

Temporary Closures

Two areas of the Estate Gardens have been closed to access until further notice. The first area is the easternmost portion of the gardens, which has been closed temporarily to prevent disturbance of the accident site. The second area is the reflecting pool, which is closed for an unrelated prescheduled capital improvement project.

Taking Care of Each Other

Thank you again for pulling together as a campus community at this very difficult time—and for understanding that it is not always possible to answer every question immediately.

And please continue to support and take care of each other, especially those in our community, who are struggling in the aftermath of the events of August 29. Know that I will be lifting all of you up as well, and that I will continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of our students and our entire community as we move forward in this academic year.

In support and care,

President Robin Holmes-Sullivan