MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The Middlebury campus community is grieving the death of Nathan Alexander, a member of the class of 2017 from Denver, Colorado. Middlebury Public Safety responded to Alexander’s Milliken Hall room on April 2 in response to a fellow student’s concern for his welfare and found him unresponsive.
Friends and faculty are remembering Alexander as a gifted student and a good friend. Thomas Beyer, the CV Starr Professor of Russian and East European Studies, taught Alexander in a course on the Nature and Origin of Human Language. Beyer recalls that Alexander’s final project for the course applied a computer statistical analysis to measure language universals in a Latin text.
“Like Nathan himself, the project was sophisticated, brilliant, far beyond the expectations of a first-year student,” said Beyer. “I remember Nathan as engaged and engaging, ever striving for understanding, sharing, and good humored. He was brilliant beyond his years.”
Alexander was a graduate of The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, where he was on the varsity sailing team and co-head of the Hotchkiss Political Union. During those years before Middlebury, he attended the 2010 New England Young Writers Conference at Bread Loaf. He interned with the Denver Congressional Office of Rep. Diana DeGette, and in her Washington, D.C., office the following summer.
At Middlebury, Alexander studied economics, computer science, and public policy and was a member of the Socially Responsible Investment Group, Hillel, the Southern Society, and Architecture Table.
“I was very pleased to have such a smart, enthusiastic scholar in my first-year seminar on U.S. Cold War Culture,” said Holly Allen, assistant professor of American Studies, who served as Alexander’s first-year advisor. “Nathan had so many gifts: he wrote beautifully; he was animated and insightful in class discussions; and he was pleasant to talk to during our advising sessions. Nathan’s death is a profound loss to the Middlebury community.”
Alexander developed close friendships during his time at Middlebury. Maggie Nazer ’17 says he was the first Middlebury person she met on Facebook during her gap year and that she came to appreciate his friendship in many ways, even off campus. “He went into every thrift shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with me in search for a coat we had seen that I really liked.”
Marium Sultan ’16 offered a poignant life lesson from her friendship with Alexander. “Nathan told me that love isn’t about dependence, it’s about investing in another’s happiness only because their happiness means as much as your own.”
Nathan Alexander is survived by his mother, Marilyn S. Chappell of Lakewood, Colorado, his father, Barton Alexander of Denver, Colorado, his sister, Elise Chappell Alexander, aged 18, of Lakewood and Denver, and his grandmother and step-grandfather, Simie and David Bayless of Denver and Tucson, Arizona.
A memorial service celebrating Nathan Alexander’s life has been scheduled for Sunday, April 12, at 11 a.m. in Mead Chapel, with a reception to follow.
The Parton Center for Health and Wellness reminds students that counseling services are available through:
- College counseling services, 802-443-5141
- Drop-in grief support group, 802-443-5141
- After hours, support staff can be reached through Public Safety, 802-443-5911
- Counseling Services of Addison County (24-hour), 802-388-6741
Photo provided by Nathan Alexander’s family.