Harvard Graduate Student Dies On Morning Run

Courtesy of Harvard Graduate School of Education

Kolajo P. Afolabi, a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, went missing after going out for a morning run in Providence on Wednesday.

Updated 12:35 a.m., Sept. 23, 2011:

Obituary: Afolabi Remembered as Diligent Educator with Contagious Smile

A student and former teaching fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education reported missing on Wednesday has been found dead in Providence, R.I. after suffering an apparent injury to his head.

Kolajo P. Afolabi, a fifth-year higher education doctoral student at the Ed School, had left his home in Providence for a routine morning run at around 9 a.m. on Wednesday, carrying only his iPod and house key.

The local fire department was called at around 9:45 a.m. after an unidentified man, later confirmed to be Afolabi, was found at the intersection of Washington and Greene Streets in Providence, The Providence Journal reported. The man reported having suffered a seizure and was brought to the Rhode Island Hospital at 9:54 a.m.

Meanwhile, Afolabi’s partner and cohabitant Bobby J. van Druff said that Afolabi did not respond to his phone calls throughout the day on Wednesday. Concerned, van Druff left early from work and went home to find that Afolabi’s wallet, keys, cellphone, and ID were still on the dresser, as he had left them before his run.

Annie K. Steele, a close friend of Afolabi and a graduate student at the University of Texas, said that she last spoke with Afolabi over Google Chat that Wednesday morning. Their conversation ended at about 8:45 a.m. when he headed out for his run. Afolabi usually did not take his ID or cellphone with him while running, she said.

Afolabi regularly ran three to four days a week, van Druff said, and just ran a 5-kilometer race in 18 minutes last weekend.

After filing a missing persons report with the local police on Wednesday night, van Druff, along with Steele, reached out to other police departments, media outlets, and social media channels.

On Thursday morning, Afolabi’s mother Kathleen drove with Afolabi’s brother from her home in Western Massachusetts to the Providence Police Department station to inquire about her missing son. The police personnel informed her that a man had been found on Wednesday, with no identification and a key in his shoe.

Kathleen was able to identify the body that had been brought in as her son.

Afolabi attended Brown as an undergraduate and was teaching two courses as an adjunct lecturer there. At Harvard, Afolabi had been a teaching fellow for a few Ed School courses while working toward his doctorate in education. Afolabi was researching the paths to college for students from disadvantaged backgrounds for his dissertation.

The Providence Police Department did not respond to The Crimson’s requests for comment on Thursday.

—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached at


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