SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: October 05, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Arizona

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 5, 2022, Thomas Meixner, head of the department of hydrology and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona, was shot and killed in a campus office.  

The alleged killer, Murad Dervish, was a former student of Meixner’s and a teaching assistant in the department. He had been expelled earlier in the year after a number of incidents in which he allegedly harassed and threatened members of the university staff and faculty, including professor Meixner.

University officials reportedly barred Dervish from the campus and reported the threats and harassment to local law enforcement. However, the authorities indicated that they did not have enough evidence to charge him with a crime.  

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about the targeted killing of a professor and sends condolences to Dr. Meixner’s family, colleagues, and community. Authorities should take reasonable steps to prevent and respond to such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators responsible, in accordance with international human rights standards. In addition to the harm to the victims, lethal violence on campus undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.