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University News

Adjunct Lecturer Afolabi ’03 dead of accidental head injury

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, September 22, 2011

Adjunct Lecturer of Education Kolajo Afolabi ’03 died from an accidental head injury sustained during a morning jog yesterday.  

A passerby saw Afolabi fall at the corner of Washington and Greene streets and called an ambulance. Afolabi had left his wallet and phone at home, which delayed the process of identifying him.

In the meantime, Bobby Van Druff, his partner of nearly five years and a planner for the Department of Facilities Management, launched a day-long search for Afolabi. He and other family members were informed late Thursday morning that Afolabi’s body had been identified.   

Mark Porter, chief of police and director of public safety, said the Department of Public Safety worked on the missing persons case with the Providence Police Department until DPS was informed that Afolabi’s body had been identified.

Friends and colleagues remembered Afolabi as a bright, energetic presence.

A fifth-year student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, he had been enjoying his first weeks of teaching at Brown, said Professor of Education Kenneth Wong, chair of the department. “He was very warm, very passionate about his work,” he said. “He was a rising young scholar, and he had a very promising career ahead of him.”

“Even that he got to teach for two weeks, he was experiencing his dream,” Van Druff said. He remembered his partner as “the fun guy at the party” and “the best dancer you ever met in your life.”

In an email informing the Brown community of Afolabi’s death, Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin P’12 wrote, “He was known during his time as a student and since graduation for his warmth, humor and commitment to the Brown community.”

Afolabi was already planning for his 10-year reunion in 2013, Van Druff said. “He loved Brown. He really did,” he said.

The email noted that Afolabi had received the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institution’s Frederick Lippitt Prize as well as a scholarship and fellowship at Harvard.

“He sent an email out to the class on Tuesday night. It’s mind-boggling,” said Anna Samel ’12, a student in Afolabi’s Monday class, EDUC 1160: “Evaluating the Impact of Social Programs.” She said she was looking forward to taking a course from Afolabi because he seemed enthusiastic and eager to help his students. “Going into class the next day, I can’t even imagine what that will be like. I wish we’d all had the opportunity to know him better.”

Afolabi also taught a graduate seminar, EDUC 2350: “Economics of Education II,” Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students in the class received an email from the department canceling today’s class but not explaining why, said Timothy Matthews GS.

“He obviously worked very hard to prepare for his classes,” Matthews said. “For someone who’d lived in the Providence community and was so excited to come back to Brown — it’s just really, really sad.”

Afolabi’s two courses in the Department of Education will be temporarily taught by Kevin Gee, lecturer in public policy.

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