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Questions Surround The Death Of Princeton Lecturer Antonio Calvo

First Posted: 04/20/11 12:44 AM ET Updated: 06/19/11 06:12 AM ET

Antonio Calvo Photo

Princeton University is remaining mum in regards to the death of Antonio Calvo, a popular lecturer who died under mysterious circumstances last week.

According to the Daily Princetonian, Calvo, a senior lecturer and the director of the university's Spanish language program, had been on a leave of absence for "personal reasons."

However, as the Princetonian reports, Calvo's friends said that the school had recently opted to not renew his contract and that he committed suicide at his home in New York City.

On Friday, the university released a statement saying that Calvo had died and a memorial service would be scheduled. When contacted for comment, a school spokesperson told the Princetonian that the university "[doesn't] feel that it's our place to speak on private family matters."

Princeton student Philip Rothaus, who describes himself as a good friend of Calvo's, is alleging that the school is covering up the full story of the lecturer's leave of absence. In an open letter to the university obtained by IvyGate, Rothaus wrote that Calvo's contract may have been canceled "against the wishes of [his] department":

On Friday, April 8, a representative of the administration, essentially a security guard, entered Antonio's office (without informing either him or anyone else in the department more than a few minutes beforehand), demanded his keys and told him to leave. He was not "on leave," and certainly not for "personal" reasons," as per Nassau Hall's press release. This is a euphemism for their having cancelled his contract against the wishes of the department.

[...]

The whole affair seems nonsensical. Why would the University physically escort a member of our community who had faithfully and enthusiastically served Princeton for a decade out of his office without notice? What purpose could this sort of humiliation serve? Why would they fire him against the wishes of the department and in the apparent absence of any reason whatsoever?

Herein lies the greatest mystery: they must have had some reason – otherwise nothing makes sense – but they continue to suppress it. They haven’t even told the senior faculty of the Spanish and Portuguese Department. There were two weeks left of classes that he was teaching, and of school for students he was advising – was he dangerous? If so, where is the evidence?

Rothaus is also alleging that the university is prohibiting faculty and staff from talking about Calvo's case. "Antonio's dear friends, his colleagues in the Spanish and Portuguese Department, have been forbidden from speaking about this to anyone," he wrote. "I am, thankfully, not under subject to the same constraints, and, at this point, am angry enough not to care."

Another friend of Calvo's told the Princetonian that the lecturer had been in the midst of a routine contract review process and that the university purposely solicited letters about him from those with whom he was known to have "some sort of conflict."

Calvo had been on Princeton's faculty since 2000.

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Filed by Leah Finnegan  |