/ Modified jan 10, 2024 10:43 a.m.

Family of slain UA professor reaches settlement with university and ABOR

Specific details have not been released yet.

Thomas Meixner Memorial Flowers, candles and letters lay in front of the Harshbarger building sign following the murder of Professor Thomas Meixner on Wed. Oct. 5, 2022 at the University of Arizona. Meixner was killed by a former student on campus.
Paola Rodriguez/Arizona Public Media

The story has been updated to reflect settlement details.

The University of Arizona and Arizona Board of Regents have reached a settlement agreement with the family of UA professor Thomas Meixner, who was shot and killed on-campus in Oct. 2022, by alleged shooter and former graduate student Murad Dervish.

In a statement sent out Tuesday morning, the university said:

“The family of Professor Thomas Meixner and the Arizona Board of Regents and University of Arizona have agreed to a resolution of the legal claims arising from Professor Meixner’s death. The agreement includes a monetary settlement for the family, and non-monetary commitments that affirm the University’s continuing support for the well-being of those most affected by these events, and that provide the family with a voice in the University’s planning and implementation of measures designed to improve the safety and security of the University community.”

Meixner, along with a student and other faculty, were subject to nearly a year’s worth of alleged harassment and threats by Dervish. Reports of these threats were sent to university departments like the Office of General Counsel and the UA Police Department. But, when the $9 million notice of claim was filed against the Arizona Board of Regents, Meixners’ attorneys claimed “the university’s utter failure to do even the bare minimum, to ensure safety on its campus, resulted” in the department head’s death.

According to a statement from the attorneys representing the Meixner family, they “agreed not to file a lawsuit against the University for its failure to protect Dr. Meixner from a student who had repeatedly threatened Dr. Meixner and eventually murdered him on campus.”

“As part of the multi-million-dollar resolution, the University of Arizona will provide critical assistance to those most immediately impacted by Dr. Meixner’s death,” the press release said. “Significantly, since the murder, the University has earmarked substantial funding designed to protect the well-being of the University.”

The settlement totals to $2.5 million and includes an endowed professorship in the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences in the name of Thomas Meixner. The university will also provide continuing mental health treatment to HAS faculty, staff and students as well as waive tuition/fees to certain HAS students impacted by the Oct. 5 shooting.

According to the press release, Kathleen, Meixner's widow, along with her family will continue to meet with UA President Robert Robbins, Police Chief Chris Olsen and other UA administrators “to make certain it upholds its commitments to make our community safer.”

“So often in the aftermath of school shootings, we learn all the ways that they could and should have been prevented,” Kathleen said. “That is exactly what happened here. Tom’s murder revealed missed opportunities, even though efforts by the Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences department were exemplary in communicating a credible threat and seeking help to protect the U of A community. But we must look to the future, and with urgency, ensuring that tragedies like ours do not happen to others.”

The Meixner family said in the press release they “fully support that the University is enacting specific measures through the implementation of the 33 recommendations made by the PAX Group, and that they will conduct monitoring to confirm that they remain in place.”

“The security measures adopted should make the U of A community safer and provide a model to other campuses,” Kathleen said.

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