- The University of Arizona missed several chances to intervene before a professor was shot and killed last year independent review conducted for the university.
- An expelled graduate student is accused of killing Thomas Meixner, a hydrology professor and chair of his department, on the Tucson campus in October. Shortly after the incident, the university had security consulting firm PAX Group review its response.
- The audit, which analyzed more than 1,200 documents including emails and text messages from university staff, found systemic problems with the university’s ability to understand and manage threats, as well as a lack of communication between departments.
Beginning in November 2021, faculty in Meixner’s department notified multiple departments of repeated harassment and threats by the suspect.
Both the University of Arizona Police Department and the Dean of Students Office referred the alleged assailant to campus mental health resources, but the two offices were unable to communicate, according to the report. Campus police were also unable to obtain additional information about the suspect from county law enforcement.
“It appears that the concerns raised should have led to a number of investigative steps by law enforcement – particularly when combined with knowledge of other related behaviours, such as family estrangement and history,” the report said.
University President Robert Robbins announced several changes that are being enacted as a result of the news in a campus video message on Monday.
Steve Patterson, head of the university’s threat assessment team and an FBI veteran, will take over as interim security chief starting in May. He will implement the report’s recommendations with the help of a newly formed Campus Safety Advisory Commission while the university hires permanently for the position.
The university will also continue to work with the Pax Group to implement a campus-wide facility security plan.
“I accept responsibility on behalf of the university and pledge — once again — to all of you and the Meixner family that we will do everything in our power to prevent another tragedy,” Robbins said.
Meixner’s family has filed a $9 million notice of claim against the Arizona Board of Regents, alleging that the university’s lackluster response to the suspect’s violent threats led to Meixner’s death. according to AZPM.