NEW YORK -- The mystery surrounding Antonio Calvo’s abrupt removal from Princeton University and subsequent suicide continues.
Calvo, 45, a senior lecturer and director of the Spanish language program at Princeton, took his own life last Tuesday in his loft-style apartment on West 26th Street in Chelsea.
According to a spokeswoman at the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office, Calvo stabbed himself to death, with “multiple incised wounds of the neck and upper left extremities.”
Last Friday, three days after he died, Princeton issued a formal statement confirming Calvo's death, indicating that a memorial service would be held the following week.
The statement also said that “Calvo was on leave from Princeton at the time of his death.”
While Calvo was technically on leave when he committed suicide on Tuesday -- it was a leave that had been forced upon him by the university four days prior and not a leave of his own choosing.
According to both close friends and former colleagues, Calvo was apparently asked to arrive at his office at 11 a.m. on the morning of Friday, April 8.
At his office, he was reportedly met by a university-appointed public safety officer who informed him that his contract as longtime lecturer would not be renewed. Calvo was then forcibly removed from the premises, with his keys taken away, in addition to being barred access to his personal Princeton University email account.
Marco Aponte-Moreno, who teaches international business at the University of Surrey in the U.K., is a longtime friend and former lecturer at Princeton, where he worked under Calvo. The two men last spoke via Skype about a month ago.
“Antonio wasn’t someone who was going to kill himself,” said Aponte-Moreno. “He was full of life, he had all of these wonderful plans for the future.”
Earlier in the week, Aponte-Moreno started a Facebook group called “Justice for Antonio Calvo.” It gained hundreds of followers after only a few hours. But after receiving negative comments, Aponte-Moreno deleted the page altogether.
For even his closest friends, Calvo’s final days remain shrouded in mystery.
Ana Belén Martín-Sevillano, a close, platonic friend since their undergraduate days in Madrid, stayed at Calvo’s apartment during a recent trip to New York City for an academic conference.
Martín-Sevillano teaches Spanish and Latin American literature at a university in Canada and has known Calvo for nearly 25 years. She last saw him eight days before he died.
Apparently Calvo’s contract had been up for renewal and he was plagued with worry about whether he'd be asked back.
She described Calvo's mood as stable and upbeat, but said he'd grown increasingly anxious. She also noticed that his appetite had recently waned.
During her visit, Martín-Sevillano recalled Calvo as an elegant, distinctive dresser who commuted by train early each morning to campus.
They last parted ways with the understanding that he would inform her just as soon as he received an update about his job.
“He was supposed to call me whenever he learned of something. In the last message, his voice was upbeat and funny -- he sounded positive.”
She described him as a balanced person, who while given to ups and downs, was never prone to bouts of depression.
The university refused to specifically address the cause of Calvo’s abrupt removal, which is considered a personnel matter and, as such, not considered public information.
Cass Cliatt, a Princeton spokeswoman, offered the following by email: "We continue to feel that it's not the University's place to make any statements that might be taken as some type of official determination about the circumstances surrounding Antonio Calvo's passing. While we were given information about the cause, we didn’t have independent verification. This is consistent with how we have approached similar circumstances, and this is distinct from cases that take place on campus where our own Department of Public Safety might be involved and have access to information. We feel it's inappropriate to speak to unconfirmed information when it comes to personal or private family matters.”
Fernando Aran, who's currently a medical student at Florida International University, graduated from Princeton last spring. Calvo was both his senior thesis adviser and junior paper adviser. He visited Calvo's office at least once a week.
Aran, who was shocked at hearing the news of Calvo's suicide, described his former professor as "a strong, fun-loving, good person, who didn't have any apparent issues with depression. If he did, I never knew about it."
Since hearing news of Calvo's suicide, Aran describes Princeton as on "super lock-down mode." Aran's former professors in the Spanish department refuse to discuss it.
Philip Rothaus, a Princeton senior concentrating in Spanish and Portuguese, recently called Calvo’s dismissal into question, issuing an open letter to the university.
Aponte-Moreno remains similarly skeptical. "I think the university is hiding something, I think they did something they weren’t supposed to do," he said.
For now, more questions remain than answers.
Princeton's department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures has scheduled a private memorial service for tomorrow afternoon.
Many of Calvo's friends said they refuse to step foot on campus, preferring instead to honor his life in a private ceremony to be held in New York early next week.
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