Community grieves death of journalism professor

Continued Coverage: Former students of Associate Journalism Professor Moses Shumow recall him in the classroom while MBTA Transit Police investigate his death. 

Community members mourned the death of Associate Journalism Professor Moses Shumow on Tuesday after he was struck by a commuter train in Beverly.

President M. Lee Pelton confirmed Shumow’s death in a phone call with The Beacon early Tuesday afternoon and said he learned of the incident around 12:30 p.m. He announced the professor’s death to the community in an email at 4:58 p.m. 

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“Moses was passionate about the role of media in vulnerable and marginalized communities, and he was deeply excited to return to Emerson and to engage his students in this important work,” Pelton wrote. “The fact that his life and his work were cut short this morning is an unimaginable tragedy.”

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority confirmed in a statement that an outbound commuter train struck a male while he was riding a bike through the pedestrian lane at around 8:20 a.m. Transit Police Officers are still investigating the incident.

Shumow was teaching one course during the fall 2019 semester, Editing and Web Producing.

“The college is still ascertaining exactly what happened but it is an extraordinary loss for the college,” Pelton said in a phone interview. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and his children and his friends.”

According to Pelton’s email, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Julie Avis Rogers plans to have her office open from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. the community to gather. 

Shumow and fellow journalism professor Stephen Iandoli took over as co-advisors for WEBN at the beginning of the fall 2019 semester. News Director for WEBN Angel Salcedo said the organization plans to suspend all shows for the rest of the week to give students time to mourn.

“We’re hurting right now, we’re hurting real bad,” the junior said in an interview. “[Shumow] was only with us for a month and a half but the effect he had on the organization was immediate. He was more than just someone who had just taken over the organization. It had gotten to the point where we were comfortable in confiding in him.”

Iandoli said he was scheduled to have an advisor meeting with Shumow earlier in the day and when he didn’t show up, knew something was wrong. He learned of Shumow’s death from a student in WEBN Tuesday afternoon.

“We shared a lot of the same beliefs and opinions about [WEBN] and as I got to talking with him about life I realized what a kind, solid person he was,” Iandoli said in an interview. “It was not just a co-worker or a co-advisor [relationship], he was a friend.”

Salcedo said he met Shumow the day after he was informed of the WEBN leadership change and immediately felt the professor’s eagerness.

“I felt that he just wanted to get the organization running and get to work and that’s exactly what I wanted to do,” he said. “It gave me a lot of confidence to know that the person who is taking over alongside [Iandoli] is going to help us succeed. From the start, he was never afraid to talk to me as a human, not just as a student.”

Janet Kolodzy, chair of the journalism department, said she learned of the incident Tuesday morning and informed journalism faculty as soon as possible. Shumow served as a graduate assistant in 2000 and 2001 for journalism professor Marsha Della-Guistina.

“He was always one of those people who, if he was given a challenge, figured out ways to make it good and right,” Kolodzy said in an interview. “Having him here was an opportunity to have that attitude continue to enhance the great stuff that is already going on in the journalism faculty.”

Pelton told faculty members of Shumow’s death at Tuesday’s Faculty Assembly meeting.

“For those of you who know him, I know your hearts are broken. For those of you who didn’t we are still deeply saddened nevertheless,” he said. “This is a devastating event to happen to someone who wanted to be here, who is an Emerson alum, whose promise in his area is just enormous. To have that promise cut short in this particular way on a Tuesday morning is really remarkable.”

Shumow began teaching at Emerson at the start of the fall 2019 semester after teaching at the Florida International University for nine years. He is originally from southwest New Mexico and received his master’s degree from Emerson in 2001, according to the college’s website. He is survived by his wife and three children.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

Editor-in-Chief Chris Van Buskirk contributed reporting. 

Updated 10/22/19: This article has been updated to include information from journalism professor Stephen Iandoli and Chair of the Journalism Department Janet Kolodzy.

Updated 10/22/19: This article has been updated to include a statement from President M. Lee Pelton to community members. 

Updated 10/22/19: This article has been updated to include information from WEBN News Director Angel Solcedo

Updated 10/22/19: This article has been updated to include information from the faculty assembly meeting.

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