Dear VCCCD Employees,

This has been a week of tragic events and devastating loss.  Noel Sparks, a current Moorpark College student, was one of the 12 victims of the Borderline shooting incident.  Noel was 21 years old and studying art at the college in addition to being active in her church and community.  We extend our collective sympathy and condolences to the families and friends of all of the victims.  This incident was an immeasurable loss for our community with a rippling impact felt by all of us.  Major fires then broke out in east Ventura County less than 24 hours after the shooting incident adding additional worry, loss, and grief to an already shocking week.  Moorpark College is closed today due to fires, evacuations, and road closures making travel difficult in the area served by the college.  Oxnard College will close at noon due to the poor air quality in the area.  Employees working across the District were excused from work if they were impacted by the fires.

It has also been a week of heroic efforts exemplified by Sgt. Ron Helus giving his life as a first responder to the Borderline shooting incident.  Firefighters and support personnel and agencies continue their efforts to save lives and property in the face of an uncontrolled fire.  Individuals and communities have pulled together to share grief and provide support as we all deal with the events of this week.  Vigils were held last evening to honor the victims of the shooting.

I woke up early this morning.  My thoughts went to my wife, children, and grandchildren with thanks that they were all safe…knowing I could talk to them, hold them.  My thoughts quickly shifted to those in our communities who have lost direct connection with a loved one due to the sudden and unexpected loss of life.  What do we do?  I wish I had words to share with you that would make all of this okay.  How helpful it would be if we could turn the clock back 48 hours and take steps leading to different outcomes.  It is important for us to reach out and support each other, our students, and our communities.  We will be providing counseling for employees as well as students.  As educational institutions, we have the honor of helping students learn new information and develop skills and perspectives to help them meet the challenges ahead.  I am grateful and thankful for each of you and the impactful work you do.

I hope you take time to do what helps you deal with the grief and loss resulting from the events of this week.  Spend time with family and friends, volunteer in the community, or reach out to those needing assistance.  The sadness will linger, but I will be inspired knowing you are bringing reassurance and hope to our students and each other.

Have a safe weekend,

Greg

Greg Gillespie, Ph.D.

Chancellor

Ventura County Community College District

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