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ChancellorOctober 30, 2023

Support, Resources Available in Face of Grief

Written By: Terisa Riley

Dear Lions,

As we move through the midpoint of our academic year, I find myself reflecting on our shared pursuit of education and the vast complexities and challenges that each of us faces in that journey.

I am heartbroken by the catastrophic violence and tragic loss of innocent lives in both Israel and Palestine, and devastated in understanding that hate causes far too much pain in our world. Whether through violence in war or within our own communities these senseless acts leave our hearts heavy with grief. I want to be clear: There should be no room for hate or violence on our campus or in our community.

As members of the AV family, please know that wherever you are as you read this, you are not alone. AV is with you, and I am with you.

This campus is built on shared support, understanding, and purpose. Every one of you, without exception, is both welcome and wanted here, and it is my hope that each day, we work together to ensure that every Lion feels the warmth of belonging and, in turn, extends that same kindness to others.

Our core mission at AV is and has always been to empower our students with knowledge and the tools to think critically and to build a life and a world that is better than when they began. Despite the emotions the crises of our modern world stir up in all of us, I have seen our faculty members engaging in transformative conversations, integrating critical assessment of current events into their diverse curriculum. Our dedicated staff, too, are playing pivotal roles in supporting our students and ensuring that we uphold our values and vision for the future.

I also want to reassure you that your physical and emotional safety remains my utmost priority. My promise to each and every one of you is that I will tirelessly work to ensure AV remains a safe place to learn, work, and grow and that every member of this community is protected from harm.

If you need support:


  • The AV Counseling Clinic is ready to assist you, offering free and confidential mental health support from experts trained in trauma-informed care. Their services are available at no cost by calling 479-788-7398 or emailing StudentCounseling@uafs.edu
  • Noah Schmidt, our International Student Programs and Services Administrator, is available to speak with members of our campus international community who have been impacted by recent global conflict and who are grappling with the complicated feelings that often arise during periods of international crisis. He is available by phone at 479-788-7116 and email at noah.schmidt@uafs.edu. 
  • And as always, Dave Stevens, our dean of students, is available to assist all students and investigate any instances of discrimination or aggression at 479-788-7310 or dave.stevens@uafs.edu. 

Faculty and Staff: 

  • Access the UnitedHealthcare Member Assistance Program (MAP) provides unlimited 24-hour phone access to trained mental healthcare specialists. This service is available to all employees, regardless of their university benefits enrollment. You can access the online version or call 1-877-660-3806 for help.
  • The Human Resources team at AV is also available at 479-788-7086 andHRdept@uafs.edu and is trained in handling discrimination, Title IX, and EEOC issues that may arise for our employees.

Members of our leadership team are actively reaching out to faith based organizations in Fort Smith to offer our support for our employees and students who worship in the greater community. Please do not hesitate to utilize the resources I have shared with you in this email. They are available for everyone and they are in place to support individuals and groups.

I remain, as always, incredibly humbled to be your chancellor.

Terisa Riley

Terisa C. Riley, Ph.D.



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