Nellis to University Community: “Shocked and Saddened”

Tuesday, August 23 2011

MOSCOW, Idaho – This afternoon, University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis sent a communication to the institution’s statewide community in the aftermath of a murder-suicide in Moscow. Below is the text of that message, which was sent via e-mail to university students, faculty and staff.

To the University of Idaho Community:

I was shocked and saddened this morning to learn that one of our graduate students – Kathryn “Katy” Benoit – had been killed outside her off-campus residence in Moscow last night.

There is no way to express how devastating the loss of any life can be, but especially someone so young and with such potential.

We value all of our students and seek to give them the best in education in the safest environment possible. Sadly, there’s no way to protect them from everything. In this case, the Moscow Police Department suspects this tragedy may have stemmed from relationship issues.

Based on information from the Moscow Police Department, we believe there is no lingering threat to our students or the campus community at large.

The suspected gunman – Ernesto Bustamante – had served at the University of Idaho as an assistant professor of psychology from 2007 until he tendered his resignation from the University effective last Friday. He died today as the result of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In any situation that involves a known threat to a member of our community – student, faculty or staff – we take that matter very seriously. Though the Idaho Public Records Law and the nature of the ongoing investigation prohibit us from commenting on any specifics related to the employment of the suspect in this case, I want to assure you that if any questions were raised, they were investigated and dealt within the bounds of law and University policy.

We also have made available counselors for those in our University community who would like help in dealing with the aftermath of this tragic event. They can be reached at (208) 885-6716. Campus Minister Katie Goodson and Father Caleb Vogel have both offered to help connect those who seek spiritual counseling. They may be reached at (208) 882-4613.

In situations like this, we all want answers. However, like most things in life, the ongoing investigation may never get us all the answers. However, one answer I can give you that I know to be true. I am deeply committed to keeping our students safe and preparing them for a bright future. That is a certainty.

M. Duane Nellis

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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as high research activity. The student population of 12,000 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For more information, visit