“We reached out to the family after the (department) faculty had said, ‘Would the family be open to receiving a posthumous degree?’ Because again, in this case it’s so traumatic,” WSU Provost Sue Edwards said. “Any death is traumatic but this was particularly traumatic.”
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Dayton Police identified Betts’ brother, Connor Betts, as the gunman responsible for the shooting that killed nine people and injured nearly 30.
The victims of the Aug. 4 shooting were Monica Brickhouse, Nicholas Cumer, Derrick Fudge, Thomas McNichols, Lois Oglesby, Saeed Saleh, Logan Turner and Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis.
Dayton Police killed the gunman within seconds of the attack.
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In a prepared statement, the university said “Poised to begin her final semester, the faculty in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department felt strongly that Betts was qualified and highly deserving of a posthumous degree. The university concurs and fully supports the recommendation of the department and the College of Science and Mathematics in the granting of this posthumous degree.”
Betts’ name and degree will be included with the rest of her class in the commencement program for Dec. 14 graduation ceremony. Betts’ name will not be announced, as is customary when the graduate is not present to receive degree.
“You can imagine it’s a very personal moment for the family who are grieving the loss of their child usually, or their parent in some cases,” Edwards said. “So the family can grieve openly without having everybody looking at them in the process. We said ‘Would you like to receive it in a public ceremony or a private ceremony?’ We give them the option.”
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The department brought the posthumous degree request to the board a few months ago, Edwards said.
“It was at the vigil that we had,” Edwards said. “The faculty were all there and they were incredibly distressed because she was an exceptional student and a member of the community. They felt something had been taken away from her and she deserved to be honored in this way. It’s an acknowledgement of all the work she did.”