Faculty and students are still reeling from the death of Daniel K. Havey, an assistant chemistry professor.
Havey, 34, was found dead in one of the labs in the Physics/Chemistry building on Sunday night. Police confirmed Havey committed suicide but aren’t releasing any additional information on the case at this time, according to Sgt. Les Tyler of the Virginia State Police.
The last time Tom Devore spoke to Havey, he was excited about getting involved with students. Devore, a chemistry professor, worked closely with Havey. Devore said that he and Havey shared similar interests and taught labs together.
He said he felt “shock, followed by confusion, followed by, ‘What could I have done differently to prevent this?” Devore said. “He’s so young. Last time I saw him, he was pretty excited about what we were going to do in P-Chem this week.”
Devore said he thinks Havey looked up to him.
“I’m probably not a much different of an age than his dad — I think which made me his unofficial mentor,” Devore said.
Devore described Havey as an intense, driven but outgoing person who had a passion for working with his students and fellow faculty. He recalls that Havey was known for giving frequent hugs to fellow faculty members. Devore also said Havey is the father of two preschool-aged daughters.
“He used to come running down the hall and then give them a big bear hug,” Devore said.
Havey’s Rate My Professors page has one positive review after another. Several commenters said he was “the best professor ever.”
One comment posted two weeks ago read:“Dr. Havey is a very creative and enthusiastic professor. I hated science before taking GSCI 101 and now I pay attention to it in the news. Take his class if you can manage to get into it.”
In 2010, Havey received a grant of more than $91,000 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for the development of a greenhouse gas sensor for carbon dioxide. He was also involved in at least nine scholarly publications and had a patent in his name.
Havey’s areas of study included greenhouse gases and aerosol particles, and he taught students about topics such as electronics and lasers.
Devore said that he and Havey shared many common interests, specifically the interaction of light and molecules and small particles that are important in Earth’s atmosphere. Devore also mentioned that Havey enjoyed playing “World of Warcraft.” He said that Havey’s students and faculty are shocked and saddened by Havey’s death. Many of Havey’s classes met as scheduled but were turned into remembrance sessions for Havey.
Donna Amenta, interim department head of the chemistry department, said that Yanjie Zheng, an assistant professor of chemistry, will be teaching Havey’s classes.
Havey’s GSCI 101 class also met with two counselors yesterday. Students declined to comment for this article.
“I considered him my friend and my colleague,” Devore said. “I’m going to miss him.”
Contact IJ Chan at firstname.lastname@example.org