News

Junior student passes away, College grieves

By Sydney Shaw and Julie Kayzerman 
News Editor and Editor-in-Chief

According to an email sent to College faculty, staff and students on Monday, Sept. 21, junior Daniel Thielke died on Saturday, Sept. 19.

Thielke, a computer science major and resident of Hillsborough, N.J., was in his fourth year at the College.

“Our TCNJ family has faced a number of losses recently,” President R. Barbara Gitenstein wrote in an email announcing his death.

Thielke’s family has not shared any additional details and has requested that arrangements remain private, according to Gitenstein’s email.

The College first sent out an email and made phone calls announcing Thielke’s death to faculty and students in the computer science department prior to sending out the campus-wide email announcement, Angela Chong, dean of students, told The Signal.

This was done “so that members of our community who were closer to him wouldn’t be hearing it for the first time in a campus-wide email,” Chong said.

Thielke is the College’s fourth student to die in the past four years. His death comes just over two months after former assistant provost Pat Donohue died in mid-July.

Thielke is from the same hometown as former student Paige Aiello, who died in April 2013.

“He kept to himself a lot, but he was always there to talk to,” said senior Dylan Short, Thielke’s freshman year roommate. “He was incredibly smart and a great programmer. Everyone liked him, we called him Dan the Man.

“While he was a man of few words, he was a good listener and always laughed at my jokes. He was a good roommate and he will be missed,” Short said.

Alyson Garrone, whose son Bobby lived on Thielke’s freshman floor, said he was a great friend.

“He was brilliant,” Garrone said on behalf of her son. Bobby often worked in computer science study groups with Thielke. “He was so intelligent and always the first to help someone out. This is unbelievably sad.”

In the wake of this loss, the College administration is emphasizing the importance of offering support to fellow classmates.

“This has been a really tough time for our campus community,” Chong said. “We have lost a number of people, and I think it’s a time for us to really show each other compassion and be alert for people who are struggling with this news and grieving as a community, and to know that there is help out there for everyone.”

Gitenstein’s email detailed the resources the College has available for students and faculty struggling with this loss: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), TCNJ Clinic and TCNJ Campus Police.

“Regardless of the little info we have right now, a loss is a loss and people will need support because they’re grieving the loss of a friend, a classmate, a student,” Chong said.

*This story was originally published in The Signal.

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