Ala. university recovering a year after shootings

A memorial service is planned on Saturday for the three professors who were killed: The previous department chair, Gopi Padila; Maria Ragland Davis; and Adriel Johnson.

Of the three people who were hurt, assistant professor Luis Cruz-Vera suffered the least severe injuries and returned to work the soonest. His wife is a teacher and helped take over a seminar class that Davis had taught, Moriarity said.

Staff aide Stephanie Monticciolo, who was shot in the head, is still recovering and retired. Professor Joseph Leahy, who also was shot in the head, has undergone months of operations and rehabilitation and already has been back at the department on a part-time basis.

“Joe is looking forward to teaching in the fall,” Moriarity said.

The biological sciences department needed help getting through the last academic year after being devastated by the loss of four teachers: the slain victims and Bishop. More than a dozen visiting professors and retired teachers helped fill the void on a rotating basis. Schools including Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois, where other shootings have occurred, offered administrators advice on how to move forward.

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The department is currently trying to hire three people for tenure-track jobs to fill the positions permanently, Moriarity said. There was some concern that people might shy away from UAH because of the shootings, but more than 155 resumes came in.

Public universities seem perpetually strapped for cash, and Moriarity said the loss of valuable research performed by Bishop and the shooting victims has reduced outside research grants coming into UAH. That’s expected to improve as new teachers are hired. Enrollment in some biology courses dipped slightly after the shootings, according to Moriarity but the school currently has about 430 biology majors, about the same as before.

Greer, the student government association president, said the campus came together in a healthy way after the violence and is better in some ways than before.

“There’s more school pride and sense of community,” said Greer, a senior majoring in Spanish. “I think it will last.”

Still, there’s the conference room.

Moriarity and her colleagues now meet wherever they can, gathering in several different rooms as they are available. No decision has been made on what to do with the space where the bloodshed occurred.

“We are now talking to our facilities people to see what we are going to do with that space,” she said. “The general consensus was we don’t want to use it again as a conference room, or at least not in any way similar to the way it is set up now.”

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