Owen Cherry/ The Mainstream
Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall stands as a positive symbol despite the human and financial toll the shooting took.

First in a 6 Part Series
Financial aftermath of Oct. 1 UCC shooting

For Umpqua Community College, the immediate sense of loss after its school shooting on Oct. 1, 2015 claimed nine lives and injured eight others was palpable on the small campus. The scope of the financial loss that would total in the millions would only be realized in the months to follow the tragic event.

By two days after the incident, UCC Board Chairperson Vanessa Becker had filed a Declaration of Emergency. This declaration allowed special procurements and started the potential for grant funding.

Purchasing Manager Jules DeGiulio described his initial experience after the incident.

“At first we didn’t know anything. Campus was chaotic for weeks and weeks. A lot of normal things just didn’t get done. Some days one hundred percent of my effort went to recovery, other days twenty percent. It’s all a blur,” DeGiulio said.

The workload was so intense that volunteer employees were used. “I saw at least 15 to 20 volunteers, retired to current, working in my office doing full time work plus. People came from long distances and even stayed in RVs to help,” DeGiulio said. Volunteers served across the college, assisting many campus departments.

A Project Serv (School Emergency Response to Violence) grant of  $529,623 was given from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students to restore the learning environment as quickly as possible. The use of the funds was threefold: to implement immediate safety and security measures, to provide modular buildings for students and staff who were displaced through the loss of Snyder Hall and to help with student and staff support and mental health wellness.

The main source of funding came from the state. During the 2016 interim session, the Oregon Legislature decided to award the college $1.8 million dollars for safety and security measures and $4.25 million for the reconstruction of Snyder Hall.

The $1.8 million allowed emergency telephone posts to be placed throughout the entire campus, as well as update the college gymnasium’s safety features. The majority of this grant went toward fiber backbone cabling to ensure better network connectivity, as well as surveillance and video system upgrades. From this fund, $36,000 went toward tuition reimbursement for students unable to complete the term.

The college decided to tear down Snyder Hall and rebuild a new structure. One reason for this decision was that by the year 2015, the 48-year-old building was almost fully depreciated and in need of significant repair.

Of the $4.25 million dollar grant for the new building expenses to replace Snyder Hall, $370,000 went to Mahlum Architects. The Mahlum website has an entire page dedicated to the new building: “The replacement building, Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall (pronounced duh-poi’-tuh), would not be a memorial but a space of openness and connectivity, not fortification.” Construction costs were $3.6 million, and Anderson Construction took the bid.

Several local lumber companies donated materials to help with the construction costs: Swanson Group donated $5,500 worth of plywood, Murphy Plywood donated $8,300 worth of plywood and Roseburg Forest Products donated $27,450 in laminate veneer lumber.

In March of 2018, Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall was opened on the site of the former Snyder Hall. UCC wanted the building to recognize the cultural history of Douglas County, which is home to the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribes. The Tribal Board of Directors decided on the Takelma word Tapʰòytʰaʼ, meaning “to be blessed and to prosper.” 

UCC Strong, a community-led organization that developed after the shooting, worked with UCC’s Foundation and raised approximately $1.3 million dollars. UCC Strong provided financial support to families of the deceased and survivors of the incident, those who were in close vicinity to the incident, and first responders.

Umpqua Strong is a non-profit still doing work for the community today.  “The reason why we started this is because of the fact that we went through this horrible tragedy. But we as a community came together,” said Lynn McAllister, board officer and secretary treasurer of Umpqua Strong. “We want to honor and remember the nine lives that were taken that day, our survivors, our emergency responders and our community as a whole.”

Owen Cherry/The Mainstream
Similar to Synder Hall before it, Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall hosts humanities classrooms and faculty offices.

In 2016, Umpqua Strong hosted a 9k and 5k run and walk event. Proceeds from this event went towards ten different scholarships, nine dedicated to the nine victims with a tenth scholarship in honor of the survivors. In 2017, $30,000 was raised from a Umpqua Strong event, half of which went towards the UCC Foundation scholarships; the other half went towards United Way, giving funds to 27 charitable agencies. After the fundraising event in 2018, Umpqua Strong invited the nine families of the victims to choose where they wanted to direct a $3,000 contribution, in memory of their loved one. Five of the families chose to give to the UCC Foundation for scholarships; the remaining families chose different non-profit organizations.

“In 2020 we are planning on having another event, we’re expecting it to be similar to the event we had done in 2018.”

— Lyn McAllister, secretary treasurer and board officer of Umpqua Strong

UCC’s Legacy Ball, Northwest Community Credit Union, Ford Family Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation and an e-mail donation campaign have come together with UCC Foundation to fund a $100,000 memorial for the victims of the Oct. 1, 2015 shooting. UCC is expecting the memorial to be completed by Sept. of 2020.

Tapʰòytʰaʼ Hall stands as a symbol despite the human and financial toll of the shooting. “You can’t understand in the same way as someone who has experienced a shooting, but you can lift their voices and experiences,” DeGiulio said. “I have not approached any individual since the shooting in the same way that I used to approach people. It was personal. It changed me.”

Contact me at:
UCCMainstream@yahoo.com

For part 2 in this series click here