One of our grounds crew just happened to look down into a heavily
wooded ravine at the very edge of campus and discovered a body.
The discovery was a great shock to the campus. The police quickly
determined that the individual was not known to Albright and that
there had been no foul play. Our first priority was to communicate
this and allay the fears of the campus community, particularly our
students, and to assure them that there was no danger.
After communicating with students, faculty and staff, and staving
off the media, we began to learn more. The victim was an unidentified
homeless man who had taken shelter in the ravine, far out of sight
of the Albright Woods residence halls. He had a small stove under
a tarp. The police report says he apparently had an accident with
the stove and died of burns and smoke inhalation. He had been dead
for a month, they said.
Long before we learned his name, however, something special happened
on campus. An e-mail went out to everyone from Chaplain Cathie Kelsey,
inviting everyone to a memorial service. She created an opportunity
for us to take a few minutes to acknowledge the life and death of
a nameless man who lived out of our sight, but whom she called "our
By the next morning at the time of the service we did know his
name. Craig Richards, age 43, was identified from medical records.
Students, faculty and staff attended the service. They lit candles
and some stood up to speak. They expressed their well wishes for
Craig Richards and his unknown family. They spoke out about the
plight of homelessness, and about how we are all essentially homeless
on this earth. They said how tragically sad it was that no one could
help Craig Richards because no one even knew he was there.
To me this story says something very important about Albright.
Although as a very diverse community, we do not always agree on
everything, we at Albright somehow always agree on the essence of
what we are. Every single day I see individuals seeking opportunities
to demonstrate those qualities that anchor Albright -- compassion
for others, a desire to be of service to each other and to the community
outside our doors. In our mission statement, its called "values."
I prefer to call it the heart of Albright, or simply, Albright.
And it is the essence of this special place upon which I know we
will continue to build.
Henry A. Zimon