Moving to the next stage of a long and difficult healing process, the university this week distributed the monies from the Hokie Spirit funds to those most profoundly affected by the tragedy of April 16.
Said President Charles Steger, “We again send our most sincere condolences and deep sorrow to all the families for their loss of precious loved ones. We know that no amount of money can bring back a loved one. I wish for each and every one continuing wisdom and peace as they cope with their loss and recovery.”
Spontaneous donations to the university began almost immediately after the shootings on April 16, and by late summer almost 21,000 groups, companies, or individuals had contributed.
Said Steger, “While there were then and there remains today many university needs for these generous contributions, we determined it would require the Wisdom of Solomon to determine ‘fair and appropriate” uses of the monies. There is no right way to disburse these monies, but we believe the best way to continue the healing is to put as much as possible in the hands of those who have suffered the most.”
People sent this money to Virginia Tech and have entrusted to us to do what is right and appropriate. And that is why we now are disbursing the bulk of the monies to 79 families or individuals. We believe it was best to focus on their needs. They experienced extraordinary loss and emotional trauma and deserved the most support.”
Checks totaling more than $8.5 million were distributed Monday according to the protocols developed in conjunction with Mr. Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the Hokie Spirit Memorial Funds. According to the protocols, there were 79 eligible claimants and all applied. All will be receiving funds (or the equivalent educational tuition).
The protocol called for distributions to families of the deceased and varying amounts to those injured or who were within the four classrooms where the shootings took place. Final figures differ from the original protocol and were adjusted upward because of increased donations received after issuance of the August protocol.
Those disbursements are as follows:
- $208,000 to each of 32 families
- $104,000 to each of 5 individuals
- $46,000 to each of 8 individuals
- $11,500 to each of 34 individuals
- Some individuals will receive the disbursements over time in the form of free tuition.
About $860,000 remains in designated funds. In the early days of the tragedy, the Virginia Tech Foundation created 32 memorial funds in the names of the 32 slain victims. Contributions so designated were deposited in those funds and will remain as determined by the donors. Undesignated monies were deposited in the memorial fund and ultimately distributed.
Neither the university nor the Virginia Tech Foundation had the legal authority to distribute the monies. Accordingly, the university sought special permission from Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, which came in the form of Executive Order 56 enabling disbursements from the university.
President Steger acknowledged the very special contribution and commitment from Mr. Kenneth Feinberg as Administrator. He said, “Ken willing gave of many, many hours of his own time and shared his special insight and judgment in developing the protocols. He met for hours to understand the needs of those who are now receiving these monies. He served us well and he served them well. He literally appeared from nowhere during a time of need for all of us and we thank him.”
Said Feinberg, “With the distribution of the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, my work as settlement administrator comes to an end. I particularly want to thank President Steger and the Virginia Tech administration for their skill and sensitivity in dealing with the victims of the April 16 tragedy. Their support was essential to the success of the program in securing 100 percent participation by the claimants.
I also express my profound thanks and appreciation to the scores of family members, students and Virginia Tech faculty who met with me either at general gatherings or in individual, confidential meetings to express their views about the tragedy, the fund and the final protocol. Their cooperation in the wake of such distress and emotional upheaval was greatly appreciated.”