Dear Alumni and Friends,

One week ago, our friends and colleagues at Michigan State University experienced a horrific tragedy. We continue to offer our most profound sympathies to the loved ones of the three students who were lost - Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser and Alex Verner - along with those injured and the entire Spartan community. Our thoughts are with the students, faculty and staff at MSU this week as they return to campus and resume the difficult journey of grieving and healing. Their courage and steadfastness in the face of such extreme pain is an inspiration. 

The events of Feb. 13 left many in our campus community reeling as well. For some, it was concern about family or friends in the MSU community. For others, it was a jolting reminder of past trauma. I was so proud to see our community come together for a vigil on the Diag last week. We must continue to do all we can to support one another at U-M, and our colleagues and friends at MSU, during this difficult time.

While supporting one another remains essential, our role as a top research university demands we do more. Grounded in our mission to serve the people of Michigan and the world, U-M has a responsibility to draw on its breadth of academic and research expertise to address pressing societal challenges. One of those challenges is the crisis of firearm-related injuries. 

The U-M Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, which began as a presidential initiative in 2019, brings researchers together from different fields to generate knowledge and advance innovative solutions that reduce firearm injuries. The ultimate goal is to make our communities safer.

The university’s commitment to the issue is leading to real-world results. In one example, U-M researchers worked with groups in Marquette County in the Upper Peninsula to develop and implement a new firearm safety education program tailored to families living in rural communities. 

And last fall, the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention designed and developed a free and publicly accessible firearm injury prevention online course in partnership with the U-M Center for Academic Innovation. The course offers the most comprehensive, evidence-based online learning opportunity in this field of study to date. I encourage you to check it out and enroll if you’re interested. 

More than 130 deaths occur each day across the United States due to firearm injuries. In 2020, firearm-related injuries surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in our nation. 

We must do better. And we can.