President Skorton addresses second tragedy this week

Dear fellow Cornellian,

It is with deep sorrow that I write to you regarding another death that has occurred in our campus community. Matthew Charles Zika, a junior in the College of Engineering, died this afternoon. While the cause of this tragedy is still under investigation by the Ithaca Police Department, I join all of you in grieving deeply this and the other losses we have experienced together so very recently.

I have asked Susan Murphy, Vice President for Student and Academic Services, to take charge in reaching out to the entire Cornell community, and to do a welfare check throughout the university's residential community this weekend. She has already arranged for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to be open for students, faculty and staff, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vice President Murphy and her colleagues will be communicating in the days ahead to all of us. Please feel free to respond to her with your concerns or ideas.

As a doctor, teacher and father, I, too want to reach out personally to each one of you - especially our students. I want you to know that it is normal to feel sad or anxious at times, particularly when such tragedies occur. Roommate conflicts, relationship problems, financial challenges and especially academic stress are just some of the pressures that can make us think that things are too difficult. Your wellbeing is the foundation on which your success is built. You are not alone. Your friends, your family, your teachers, your colleagues, and an array of counselors and advisors are ready to listen and help you through whatever you are facing. If you learn anything at Cornell, please learn to ask for help. It is a sign of wisdom and strength.

Cornell is a caring community where the struggles of one of us is a concern for all of us. You can help by checking in with your classmates, roommates, colleagues and friends to make sure they are well. It is important to take the time, regularly, to reflect on the many things for which we are grateful and on how best to overcome, together, the daily challenges we must face. This is the time to be with and for one another.


David J. Skorton


Gannett Health Services 607 255.5155

  • 24/7 phone consultation with a medical or mental health care provider for any member of the Cornell community with a concern about a student
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Medical Care
  • Regular hours:
    • Monday to Friday: 8:30 am to 5 pm
    • Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 pm
  • extensive online, campus, and community resources for people seeking help for themselves or for someone else in distress
  • Special information for parents

EARS (Empathy, Assistance, and Referral Service) 607 255-EARS (3277)

  • Peer counseling for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Phone or drop in the EARS counseling room at 213 Willard Straight Hall
  • Hours:
    • Sunday through Thursday: 3 to 11 pm
    • Friday: 3 to 10 pm
    • Saturday: 6 to 11 pm

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program 800 327-2255; select option 1

  • 24/7 phone consultation with a mental health professional for faculty and staff

Cornell United Religious Work 607 255-4214

  • Consultation with clergy and spiritual leaders

Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service Hotline 607 272-1616

  • 24/7 telephone counseling and consultation

In an emergency requiring immediate assistance, call 911.

For a more comprehensive list of resources, please visit Gannett's Notice and Respond website.