An email from Dean Valentini sent earlier today shared that first-year Jackson Coker has passed away.

Editor’s Warning: Student Death

An email from Dean Valentini shared that Columbia College first-year Jackson Coker passed away in a car accident early this morning. Jackson was taking classes from his home in Austin, Texas and aspired to study economics and political science. He was also recruited to play for the Columbia Football team; however, he was not able to play any games with the Lions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dean Valentini expressed his condolences for the family and encouraged all to seek any necessary resources, including psychological and religious services outlined in his statement below. Dean Grinage also released a statement later this evening expressing similar sentiments.

Our deepest sympathies go to Jackson’s family and friends.

Email from Dean Valentini sent to Columbia College students at 3:05 pm on March 10:

Dear Students,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to share the news that a member of our College community was lost today: Jackson Coker, a first-year student from Austin, Texas, died in a tragic car accident early this morning. Jackson was living in his hometown while attending virtual classes at the College, where he had an interest in studying economics and political science. We are in touch with Jackson’s family and send them our sympathy and support, as they mourn this terrible tragedy.

Jackson was recruited as a talented football player from Westlake High School, where he also excelled at track and field. While he did not have the opportunity to play this year at Columbia, due to the pandemic, we know the Columbia Football team and staff, in particular, will feel his loss deeply. Columbia’s Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli shared, “Not only was Jackson a talented student-athlete who excelled on and off the field, but someone who embodied the personal characteristics of what our program is built upon. He personified what great teammates are all about. They give great effort in everything they do, are extremely accountable in their actions and always put the team first. That in a nutshell was Jackson.”

In this time, more than ever, I know that losing a community member can feel particularly painful. Many of us are already suffering the challenges of remote life, and absorbing and processing grief can feel even more difficult in these circumstances. Whether or not you knew Jackson personally, I encourage you to seek comfort by connecting with others, to discuss, reflect and support one another. If you believe it would be more helpful to speak directly with someone at Columbia, I am sharing resources below that I hope you’ll take advantage of.

I know that all of you join me in sending our deepest condolences to Jackson’s family and friends.


James J. Valentini

Dean of Columbia College and

Vice President for Undergraduate Education

cc: Mary C. Boyce, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

Resources for Students

Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) will offer extended hours until 11:00 p.m. EST, both tonight and tomorrow night, which you can access by calling (212) 854-2878. As always, CPS provides 24/7 phone support available through on-call service, which is accessed by calling the same number and following the recorded directions.

The Office of Religious Life can be reached for spiritual counseling at (646) 906 5913 (Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. EST and by appointment after hours and during the weekends). For those on campus, Earl Hall and Saint Paul’s Chapel are open from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday through Friday, for prayer and reflection.

Your advisers in the Berick Center for Student Advising can be reached for personal support by scheduling a virtual appointment that is convenient for you.

Email from Dean Grinage sent to Barnard College students at 7:21 pm on March 10:

Dear Barnard Students,

I am reaching out to share the sad news that Jackson Coker, a first year student at Columbia College, has passed away as a result of a car crash this morning in Austin, Texas.

Columbia has alerted their students, and you can read the email below.

As we mourn this loss as a community, and I encourage you to take advantage of the resources that Barnard provides:

Dean of Studies Office: 105 Milbank Hall, (212) 854-2024
Furman Counseling Center: 100 Hewitt Hall, (212) 854-2092
After-hours psychological emergency line: (855) 622-1903
After-hours clinician on-call: (855) 622-1903
International SOS for those students who are abroad can contact: +1-215-942-8478.

With sorrow and heartfelt condolences for Jackson Coker’s family and friends,

Leslie Grinage
Dean of the College  

Update made on March 10 at 7:41 pm: This article has been updated to include a statement from Dean Grinage.

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