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UNCC To Move Forward With Memorial To Remember Those Killed, Injured In Classroom Shooting

UNCC memorial
Katie Howell

UNC Charlotte will move forward with plans for a $1 million memorial honoring students killed by a gunman in a classroom shooting in April 2019, the school announced Thursday.

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois issued a letter to the campus saying he has accepted the recommendations of the Niner Nation Remembrance Commission, which advised not only the memorial, but a repurposing of the classroom where students Riley Howell and Reed Parlier were killed and four other students were wounded.

Additionally, plans are in place for a “Day of Remembrance” on April 30, the one-year anniversary of the shooting. UNCC already has announced there will be no classes scheduled on that date.

A concert will be held at Belk Theater in uptown Charlotte, hosted by CBS national correspondent and alum Don Dahler and featuring the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra as well as musical, dance, theater and artistic performances by UNC Charlotte students. Tickets are on sale now, and all proceeds will go toward the April 30 Remembrance Fund, which will be used to support the Remembrance Commission.

The Remembrance Commission specifically recommended the memorial be in Belk Plaza, remember Howell and Parlier by name, and “acknowledge those wounded both physically and psychologically.”

To accomplish this, Dubois has appointed two groups – a formal design jury and an advisory group of faculty, staff, students and alumni who will guide memorial proposals through discussions. The original goal was for the memorial to be completed by 2022.

Further remembrance activities and events will include a temporary exhibit prepared for the first anniversary, highlighting memorial items collected by University Archives. A larger, curated temporary exhibit will be displayed in the galleries in the Popp-Martin Student Union for the second anniversary in 2021.

The Day of Remembrance will be observed for at least the next three years, and then be held on April 30 or a floating date (last Tuesday of April) in future years.

Dubois said the university will manage the process for repurposing Kennedy 236, where the shooting occurred, and the adjacent room, 234. It also will immediately begin work on designing a contemplative space and plaque in the Kennedy building.

“April 30, 2019, will not define us,” Dubois wrote in his letter. “Instead, Niner Nation will be defined by the strength of our collective response. It is my great hope that the actions we’re taking to remember and honor the victims will serve as a meaningful and lasting reminder of the strength, compassion and enduring spirit within our UNC Charlotte community.”

Jodie Valade has been a Digital News and Engagement Editor for WFAE since 2019. Since moving to Charlotte in 2015, she has worked as a digital content producer for NASCAR.com and a freelance writer for publications ranging from Charlotte magazine to The Athletic to The Washington Post and New York Times. Before that, Jodie was an award-winning sports features and enterprise reporter at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. She also worked at The Dallas Morning News covering the Dallas Mavericks — where she became Mark Cuban's lifelong email pen pal — and at The Kansas City Star. She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Education from John Carroll University. She is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan.