Chesterfield woman, former UCC president 'absolutely sick' after mass shooting

A Chesterfield County woman is the former president of Umpqua Community College. She's now retired and working at John Tyler Community College in Midlothian. Dr. Patricia McDonald says the news of the mass shooting has been absolutely devastating.

Dr. McDonald says she was grading papers when she got a disturbing text message.

"Turn on CNN," read the message. "Umpqua Community College has a shooting. 10 assumed dead."

Dr. McDonald says she was shocked.

"I was devastated," Dr. McDonald said. "Absolutely sick."

Dr. McDonald became president of Umpqua 13 years ago. She has since retired, and she says she is finding the news coverage hard to watch.

"It's a president's worst nightmare," Dr. McDonald said.

She said students were just getting into their fall semester. The college is now the site of the nation's latest mass shooting.

"It's awful," Dr. McDonald said.

She said UCC is the cultural and community center for the Douglas County area in Oregon. She says the performing arts center on campus is where weddings and events are held. She says the community swimming pool is also on campus. It's a beloved gathering space now rocked by the unthinkable.

"Well I'd like to say to the people at Umpqua," Dr. McDonald said. "Hang in there."

She said Umpqua is the only post-secondary educational institution in Douglas county.

"The college will continue," Dr. McDonald said. "The mission is too important for it not to. This is a tragedy. It's terrible, but I know their spirit can rise above it."

Dr. McDonald was a community college administrator for 45 years. She's now a part-time professor, and she says no act of violence will keep her from doing the job she loves.

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