September 14, 2010 — The University of Virginia will install a plaque on the Copeley Road bridge in memory of Morgan Dana Harrington. The plaque will be dedicated Oct. 17, the one-year anniversary of her disappearance.
The U.Va. Board of Visitors approved plans for the memorial at its meeting today.
Harrington, a 20-year-old junior education major at Virginia Tech, was last seen alive on the bridge on Oct. 17, 2009, after she left a concert at John Paul Jones Arena. Her remains were discovered Jan. 26 on a farm about 10 miles south of Charlottesville, and the crime is still under police investigation.
"The loss of a beautiful young person with a bright future is one of life's greatest sorrows," said U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan. "We want to mark her passing in a formal way."
Well-wishers have been placing signs, flowers, painted rocks and other mementoes on the bridge since last fall. These will be removed and sent to the Harrington family on Oct. 4 in preparation for the dedication and memorial.
The plaque will be dedicated at a ceremony on Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. A showing of "A Gift for the Village," a film that has been dedicated to Harrington, and a reception at Newcomb Hall will follow. The film's creator, Jane Vance, taught Morgan Harrington at Virginia Tech, and Harrington appears briefly in the film.
"Morgan's disappearance, the hopeful search and later the heartbreaking discovery of her remains had an enormous effect on the University community," said Patricia Lampkin, U.Va.'s vice president and chief student affairs officer. "The plaque will preserve her memory for University students for years to come, and the film and reception will celebrate her life and her many interests."
This fall the University is emphasizing the idea that members of this community should take care of each other. "We hope, as I know the Harringtons do, that Morgan's memory will also serve as a reminder to our students that bad things can happen anywhere and that we all need to help keep ourselves and others safe from harm," Lampkin added.
Morgan Harrington's father, Dr. Daniel P. Harrington, completed his residency at the University of Virginia Medical Center and now works at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, with dual appointments at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the U.Va. School of Medicine. Her mother, Gil Harrington, is a 1979 graduate of the University's School of Nursing, and her brother, Alex Harrington, is a 2009 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences.
"We are grateful to the University of Virginia for honoring the wondrous but abbreviated life of Morgan Dana Harrington by dedicating this memorial plaque on the site where Morgan was abducted," the Harrington family said in a statement. "Our family hopes that Morgan's tragic death will serve as a catalyst for community-wide rejection of violence and investment in a culture of interdependence and integrity that will promote safety for all."
The plaque will read:
In loving memory of
MORGAN DANA HARRINGTON
A student at our sister institution, Virginia Tech,
Ms. Harrington was last seen alive on this bridge
on October 17, 2009.
University of Virginia
Dedicated October 17, 2010
The pattern of dots on the plaque is the Harrington family's expression of their "two-four-one" farewell: "I love you too much, forever and once more."