James Barnes described as ‘very considerate, very polite’

Anna Staver

Body of Kent State student in Leebrick Hall for six days

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Tom Neumann, associate vice president for University Communications and Marketing, restated how the body was found.

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Students discussed their reactions to James Barnes’ death.

James Barnes came to Kent State to begin a three-year masters program in business administration. He was here for about two months before he died. Students and professors on campus who met Barnes were only beginning to get to know the 26-year-old.

But before he came to Ohio, Barnes attended Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University. He graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in finance. It was there that he met Katie Brahaney.

“We quickly developed a close friendship over our library conversations, inside jokes and all nighters during finals week,” Brahaney wrote in an email. “He was known for his smile, laugh and sincerity.”

Brahaney majored in English and professional writing at Slippery Rock. She graduated with Barnes in 2009. She said their friendship possessed a universal quality that she feels any college student could relate to.

“He was the friend I’d go to for comic relief if I didn’t do well on a paper. He was the friend who wanted to tell me all about his interest in a cute study buddy over lunch at the dining hall,” Brahaney wrote. “He was the friend who came to a contemporary campus poetry reading just because he knew how excited I was about it.”

Jaume Franquesa, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Management, said Barnes told him that he was unsatisfied that more jobs outside of sales weren’t available to him with his degree.

“He’s one of those students that look at the MBA as opportunity to change careers,” Franquesa said.

Franquesa said he met with Barnes several times to discuss his plans for the future. What initially struck Franquesa about Barnes was his disposition.

“He was somebody very considerate, very polite with a desire to better himself,” Franquesa said. “For the little time that I knew him I would say a bit reserved, very diligent with his studies. He will certainly be missed.”

Franquesa said there were 34 students who started the MBA program this fall with Barnes. He said he and the other professors told the students about Barnes’ death Monday.

“And of course the class is in shock,” Franquesa said. “We’re all in shock.”


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Despite the small size of his graduate class, Franquesa said it’s not unusual for students to be absent.

“In a graduate program like ours we don’t hold students by the hand. A lot of the work happens outside of the class,” Franquesa said. “And a lot of them are looking for internships so they may have an interview and miss a class. It’s not unusual.”

Franquesa said a student came forward after Barnes’ death was announced and said, “he didn’t see him in one of his classes last week, but he didn’t think anything of it.”

President Lester Lefton released the following statement Monday about Barnes’ death.

“The whole university is saddened. We’ve been in touch with the young man’s parents. There’s going to be a memorial service over in the Kiva. It’s hard when you lose any student because they’re what we’re here for.”

For Brahaney, her friend’s death has made her reflect on the time she had with him.

“Our day-to-day lives as students seemed routine. But I look back now and see how privileged I have been in being able to meet such a caring, funny, honest man who made college so special for me,” Brahaney wrote. “James was my best friend and someone I loved. He will be missed, but never forgotten.”

Contact Anna Staver at [email protected].

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