Former UND provost shot, killed in SC (Update)

Former UND provost shot, killed in SC (Update) Click to Enlarge

Update: 4:40 PM

Former UND provost Tom DiLorenzo was shot and killed this morning (Fri) in a robbery in Charleston, South Carolina.

DiLorenzo was walking with his wife, Suzanne Austin, along a street of upscale shops and restaurants just blocks away from the College of Charleston, where Austin had just taken a job as provost.

Charleston police said the couple was approached by two individuals demanding money. One had a gun.

Police said DiLorenzo was shot at about 6:15 AM and taken to a hospital, where he died. Austin was not physically hurt.

Police said the suspects fled the scene. No arrests have been made, but police issued a photo of a silver 2005 Acura TL they believe was involved in the incident and they said “it is believed the vehicle was occupied by three black males possibly in their mid-to-late teens.”

DiLorenzo retired earlier this year after seven years at UND. He was 63.

In a statement, UND President Andy Armacost said DiLorenzo had “a superhuman work ethic” and “gave his heart and soul to UND.” He said DiLorenzo “did all that was asked of him and then more.”

Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski said: “The news of Dr. DiLorenzo’s death came as a great shock to our community. Jenny and I are praying for Dr. DiLorenzo’s wife, Ms. Austin, their family and friends, the Charleston, SC community, the entire North Dakota University System, as well as the many in Grand Forks that were fortunate to have known him.

Because of Dr. DiLorenzo’s dedication and the bonds he created, the path has been paved for a bright and prosperous future on campus and with UND’s partners. Our community could not have been more blessed to have had such a strong advocate and leader.”

Grand Forks City Administrator Todd Feland said: "I've had the honor and privilege to work closely with Tom on a handful of really important and strategic projects that are now hallmarks of the Grand Forks Town and Gown relationship. There are a number of partnerships and initiatives currently in place; like our internship program, research partnerships, the MainStreet GF Challenge, and Coulee to Columbia infrastructure projects that really would not have happened without Tom’s work ethic, greater-good attitude, and ability to work effectively with community stakeholders. He was a driving force in this community and this news hurts on a personal level.”

(Some from AP)

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UND statement:

Tom DiLorenzo, retired provost and vice president for academic affairs, passed away earlier today.

He and his wife, Suzanne Austin, who recently was named provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the College of Charleston, were targeted in an attempted robbery in Charleston, S.C. During the robbery attempt, Dr. DiLorenzo was shot and later died at the hospital. Dr. Austin was not physically injured.

Tom DiLorenzo retired from UND on June 1 after serving the University of North Dakota for seven years.

During his tenure, he served four presidents and devoted great time and energy to advancing UND during difficult budgetary years, always guided by the best interest of our students, faculty, staff and the institution. He worked tirelessly to advance the One UND Strategic Plan, and led initiatives to increase student retention and improve graduation rates. He also strengthened UND’s relationship with the City of Grand Forks and grew internships for students throughout the community. Graduate enrollment is at an all-time high as is the Honors Program and UND’s research portfolio, all of which also were centerpieces of his work.

“With his superhuman work ethic, Tom gave his heart and soul to the University up until his very last day at UND,” said UND President Andy Armacost. “He led the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He initiated programs that strengthened ties between UND and the Grand Forks community. And to improve the academic experience for UND students, he implemented programs that have resulted in better graduation and retention rates. Tom did all that was asked of him and then more. It was the kind of person he was.”

“We offer our condolences to Suzanne and the rest of Tom’s family at this very tragic time,” said Mark Hagerott, chancellor of the North Dakota University System. “Dr. DiLorenzo was dedicated to the University of North Dakota for seven years before his recent retirement and his sudden death leaves us to mourn his loss as well as have deep respect and reverence for his service to his campus community.”

“Tom invested in people and challenged them to grow and learn,” said Debbie Storrs, interim provost. “He cared deeply about UND. He encouraged us to think differently, look forward, and envision a better university. He was committed to equity and hired many women into leadership positions. With his leadership, we made great progress at the university in many areas in the past seven years, including improving student success. His new adventure was abruptly ended. It is hard to put to words the sadness, especially in the world we live in today. He will be missed. His impression on UND is felt, and we will continue to think forward. My thoughts are with his family.”

“I worked productively with former provost DiLorenzo for his entire, roughly seven-year tenure at the University of North Dakota,” said Dr. Joshua Wynne, vice president for health affairs, dean of the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences, and former interim president. “He was incredibly helpful during my one-year tenure as interim president. I found him to be a person of high standards and an incredibly hard worker. I am very saddened by his unfortunate passing. I wish his wife and family the most sincere of condolences.”

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College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu shared the following message with the campus community on Friday, July 17, 2020:

Dear Campus Community:

Early this morning, I received the heartbreaking news that two members of our College of Charleston family were the victims of a violent crime in downtown Charleston.

According to the Charleston Police Department, our new Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Suzanne Austin and her husband, Tom DiLorenzo, were targeted in an attempted robbery near King and Clifford streets, several blocks south of the main campus. During the robbery attempt, Tom was shot and subsequently died. Suzanne was not physically injured. The suspect(s) fled the area, and Charleston Police are investigating.

This act of violence against one of our community members is deeply unsettling, and in this season of constant hardships, the pain and shock may seem unbearable. I encourage students, faculty and staff members who may feel unease or anxiety as a result of this incident to seek support through our student Counseling Center or the College’s Employee Assistance Program.

Our time with Tom was too short – much too short. He and Suzanne had only just moved to Charleston a few weeks ago. But I would like to share just a few details about Tom so that you may better know the person we lost.

Tom had recently retired from the University of North Dakota in June after serving there as provost and vice president of academic affairs for seven years. Tom was celebrated not only for his collaborative leadership style, but also his belief in experiential learning and how the city of Grand Forks served as an extension of the UND classroom. Given time, Tom would have seen parallels of that dynamic here in Charleston as well.

From what I understand, Tom – as you would expect of any lifelong academician – held education in the highest esteem, even calling it the “ultimate equalizer” because he knew that education was the only way a person could take full control of his/her/their life and ensure a future of success.

This is a moment of great sorrow for the entire College of Charleston community. In this difficult time, I want to express heartfelt condolences to Suzanne and the Austin and DiLorenzo families. It is imperative that we, as a campus community, come together now to support Suzanne and her family as they mourn the untimely loss of a husband and father.



Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D.

College of Charleston

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