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University saddened by loss of student over Thanksgiving

President David J. Skorton issued the following message of condolence Nov. 28:

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I am deeply saddened to tell you that we have lost a member of our Cornell family, Shannon Jones.

Shannon, a 23-year-old upperclassman in the College of Engineering, died on Thursday evening in her residence in Cayuga Heights. There is an ongoing investigation into the circumstances of her death.

Funeral arrangements
The funeral for Shannon Jones will take place Saturday, Dec. 6, at 10 a.m. at the Robert A. Pumphrey Funeral Home, 7557 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814.

Campus service
An on-campus memorial service will be held after the winter break. If you would like to help plan the service, contact Father Dan McMullin, associate director of Cornell United Religious Work, at

Donations in Shannon's memory can be made to the Violet project by visiting the Violet CU Satellite Team website.

My heart goes out to Shannon’s family and friends, who had no way to prepare for this unexpected and tragic incident.

Shannon was an Independent major in engineering with interests in controls and avionics engineering in the field of aerospace. She was a member of Professor Mason Peck’s Violet student satellite project team. In Professor Peck’s words: “Shannon had an infectious enthusiasm for exploring space and building our future in it. She helped figure out how to make Violet’s star tracker work, and when Violet launches next year and takes its first images of the stars, we’ll have Shannon to thank for it.”

Shannon had friends and interests across campus. She was a member of the Teszia Belly Dance Troupe and had an active interest in theater.

With our campus closed and many of us away from Ithaca as we learn of this sad news, I encourage you to reach out to others for support and please know that you can access our counseling resources at a distance. These resources are available to those currently in Ithaca as well as to those who will be returning to campus after the Thanksgiving break. The College of Engineering will be announcing a community support meeting planned for Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, and we will share more detailed information on CUInfo and on our home page at

On behalf of the entire Cornell community, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Shannon’s mother and brother, her family and friends. I ask that you join me in taking time over the coming days to remember Shannon as we all try to make sense of this deep loss for our community.



Support services are available to all members of the Cornell community. Students can consult with counselors from Gannett Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) by calling 607-255-5155.

Employees can call the Faculty Staff Assistance Program at 607-255-2673. The Ithaca-based Crisisline is available at 607-272-1616. For additional resources, visit


Editor's note: The original statement misidentified Shannon Jones as a senior in the College of Engineering.

Media Contact

Melissa Osgood