Metro-East News

‘Bright future’: SIUE mourns loss of student

If Taylor Clark had not been killed, he would have spent the summer working at an engineering firm pursuing his passion for land surveying.

David Sherill, a Southern Illinois University Edwardsville lecturer in civil engineering, came to know Clark as a student in the School of Engineering. He described Clark as very personable, and his voice broke when describing a “very talented young man.”

“It’s very upsetting,” Sherrill said. “He was a good kid with small-town values... It’s hard for me to even think about it.”

Sherrill said Clark had applied for a summer job on his engineering firm’s survey crews, and they planned to offer him the job.

“He had a lot of interest in that,” Sherill said. “He liked the outdoors.”

Sherrill said it has been very hard on those in the engineering department who had come to know Clark and were hoping that his disappearance was not foul play.

“He trusted people,” Sherrill said. “He would have done anything for anybody.”

The SIUE campus mourned for one of its own Wednesday, as finals week continued. The rock in the center of the quad was painted black and red with Taylor's name painted across it. A makeshift memorial of roses and candles lay at the base of the rock, one candle still burning on Wednesday afternoon.

“Our hearts and minds are with Taylor Clark’s family and friends as they cope with this tragic loss,” said SIUE Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe. “At a time of the year when the new spring season brings the promise of brighter days ahead, and commencement provides unending potential for so many of our students, it is truly sad that Taylor had his bright future taken away. He will be missed by all of those who he encountered on our campus.”

The SIUE Greek Council, in a tweet, mourned a “young life full of hope taken way too soon.”

Austin Jones, a junior in the engineering program, said he knew Clark through the enrichment sessions Jones tutored. The sessions are intended to help engineering students get a better understanding of calculus, as a lot of engineering students drop out of the program because of the early math, Jones said.

But Clark was doing very well in the sessions, Jones said. “He was a very nice kid,” he said. “He knew what he was doing and he was smart… laid-back.”

Jones said he was shocked to hear what had happened to Clark. “For that to happen to someone you’d gotten to know, it was really something to hear,” he said. “He was a really good student and had a bright future ahead of him.”

Luke Settles, a supplemental instructor for the calculus program, said Clark never missed an enrichment session, which showed his dedication as a student. He said he worked well with other students and was a strong contributor during group work.

“Taylor was always friendly and smiling,” Settles said. “I’m having trouble even picturing his face without a smile.”

SIUE Counseling services were made available Wednesday to students by phone at 618-650-2842 or through the Counseling Health Services Office in the Student Success Center lower level adjacent to the Morris University Center.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.

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