Students hold vigil for late political science professor

Erin Zaranec

Speaking in front of a crowd of 37 Kent State students and faculty members Monday, political science professor Steven W. Hook reflected on his decision to hire Erik Heidemann, assistant professor of political science, last year.

“He was exuberant and enthusiastic […] Kent State was really lucky to get him,” Hook said.

Student organization To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) hosted a vigil in Heidemann’s honor Monday night at the rock on Front Campus. After 35-year-old Heidemann’s sudden death Sept. 3, Kayla Landis, TWLOHA president and senior communications studies major, wanted to be sure that students would have a place to gather and talk.

“Losing him really had a profound effect on many people’s lives,” said Landis, who coordinated the vigil.

The gathering, which lasted half an hour, gave both students and faculty members the chance to share a memory or experience with the late professor. Junior political science major Michael Guastella was the first to share.

“I feel the world has been cheated out of a master, eloquently brilliant mind,” Guastella said. Although he admitted political science might not always be the most interesting subject he said he enjoyed Heidemann’s classes, who knew how to make politics interesting and fun.

“I hope we take this loss and turn it into a gain. We can all gain knowledge, gain wisdom […] just take his teaching for what it was,” Guastella said.

While Guastella had Heidemann previously for Political Methods and this semester for The Congress, students who barely knew the professor spoke highly of him. Freshman physics major Jonathan Boyd said he was eager to share his experience with Heidemann with his friends.

“I only knew him for two class periods, but he left an impression on me,” Boyd said. “You didn’t have to know him long to know he was a great professor.”

Landis agreed.

“He represented the type of professor everyone wanted to have. He made your time at Kent State meaningful,” Landis said.

After the group shared a moment of silence and lit candles in Heidemann’s memory, they were given the opportunity to write a message or memory on the rock to honor the young professor.

Hook spoke of how the population of Kent State is in the midst of greatness, most of the time without even knowing it. Heidemann, he said, truly encompassed that distinction.

Contact Erin Zaranec at [email protected].