Remembering David Hallman ’14



The Denison community gathered in Swasey Chapel Saturday night (Feb. 8) at 11:30 upon hearing the news that David Hallman ’14 had been found dead in the village after a day of searching for the 21-year-old from Erie, Pa.

Hallman had last been seen leaving Brews Café in Granville around 2 a.m. on Saturday. When his family and friends hadn’t heard from him later that day, his father called the Granville Police Department, who in turn, notified Denison, and both GPD and the college launched searches throughout the village.

At this time, Hallman’s cause of death is under investigation, but according to local authorities, it’s likely that David succumbed to hypothermia. Sgt. Keith Blackledge of GPD told the Newark Advocate that David “likely died of exposure.” The Advocate reported that “authorities don’t suspect foul play.”

“This is tragic,” President Adam Weinberg told the students gathered in Swasey last night, “but the strength of our community lies in how we come together in times like these. We are strong in moments of joy and celebration, but we are also strong in moments of sorrow and loss. Tonight we all need to be there for each other.”

Counselors and clergy were made available to students Saturday night, and will continue to be available for as long as needed.

Today, we remember Hallman: A senior majoring in history and minoring in economics, and a friend to many throughout the community. We grieve with his family and encourage all who knew Dave to come together as a community and remember his friendly demeanor and his ability to make others laugh.

UPDATE: Funeral arrangements have now been set.

Friends may call at the Burton Westlake Funeral Home, 3801 West 26th St. (at Powell Ave.) in Erie, Pa., on Wednesday, Feb. 12, between 1 and 4 p.m., and 5:30 and 8 p.m.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Jude the Apostle Church, 2801 West 6th St., Erie, Pa., on Thursday, Feb. 13, at 11 a.m. with the Very Rev. John J. Detisch, V.F. officiating. In addition, there will be a memorial for the Denison campus community  at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Swasey Chapel.

An obituary can now be found on the funeral home website.

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3:25 PM February 10, 2014

Lauren Tyger wrote:

Reading some of the earlier comments have made me feel very disappointed in the assumptions that have been made regarding the current administrative leaders at Denison, the student body, and the practices in place within the institution regarding safety and care.

As a current student at Denison and a classmate of David, I can speak to the outpouring of support, love, and care that was shown in Swasey on Saturday evening and continues today. I saw the Provost, Administrative Assistants, University Chaplain, locals Priests, residents of Granville Village, Administrators within Student Development, professional Counselors and the University President comforting students– and each other–as late as 3 in the morning in Swasey. To say that Denison is a place devoid of deep care and support is just not true.

We are mourning the loss of a student, friend, teammate, and roommate, and there is no simple or easy way to do that. We are an imperfect community, but we are made up of strong, thoughtful, empathetic, and loving individuals who deeply care for one another.


4:21 PM February 10, 2014

Laura Frame wrote:

As an alumna, a parent of a Denison senior, and as a Denison staff member, I saw firsthand how the Denison community came together. The minute it was known that David was missing, security, senior staff, students, coaches, and faculty sprang into action asking what they could do to help. And many of those community members assisted in the search. It was an impressive display of compassion and togetherness.

Denison, like all other colleges and universities, has an abundance of drug and alcohol awareness programming, medical amnesty, security rides, and other programs to make sure our students stay well and healthy. But we also need to remember that these are 18-22 year olds who are growing and maturing into young adults, and sometimes despite the best of intentions, tragedies still occur.

The fact remains that a young man is dead and a family and college community are devastated. To say that no one cares, is baseless, untrue, and incredibly insensitive.
Laura Frame ’83, P’14


10:30 AM February 10, 2014

Meryl Duff wrote:

First of all, as a DU Alumna, I am very saddened to find out that a student so tragically lost his life.
As for Denison not being a community that cares about it’s students, I couldn’t disagree more. Denison has been implementing different policies since I was a student there, from 2008-2012. Every year they made changes to the campus and the goal was to make students safer. The Safe Ride program never once hesitated to pick me up when I called them, even just to get my groceries from Mitchell all the way up to East Quad. Denison made it safer for students to call for help if someone was sick from drinking too much, even if they were underage, called Medical Amnesty (which I have seen in action, and they provide counseling and mandatory alcohol awareness classes to those who are involved).

As well there are MULTIPLE orientations for First Year Students concerning alcohol awareness, sexual consent, bullying and info for numerous outlets of support. In terms of alcohol awareness, I did learn about personal limits, symptoms of overdosing and ways to prevent injury. Whether I chose to follow this advice was my own choice.
Finally, after I graduated, the administration implemented a party registration policy in attempts to create a safer environment for the events that involved alcohol. DU admin is not trying to deny the fact that college students will drink and sometimes too much.

This is not a new occurrence;There was a student from my class who died from an alcohol related incident just before our senior year. Blaming Denison is not going to bring these students back. But to say that Denison is no longer a community is baseless and ignorant.


5:03 PM February 10, 2014


As a current student at Denison, I was absolutely stunned by David Hallman’s passing.
We are all experiencing an unfathomable loss. If we did not personally know David, we knew someone who was touched by his friendship and is struggling to find meaning in all of this. It is a scary incident, one that has devastated entire groups of students, faculty and administrators. It is wrong, in my opinion, to implicate our entire community in a tragedy like this. We must find solace in knowing that we may not need to find meaning in this loss right away, or at all.

I am saddened by earlier comments on this post about Denison’s approach to student life. I have never once felt as though programming for students at Denison silenced the use of alcohol on campus. Instead, we have grown to approach alcohol use from a restorative and caring standpoint, which I am impressed by and thankful for as a student. Every social culture struggles in some way to provide space for every member in a collective. But, in my opinion, this loss should not spark a discussion about what’s missing.

Instead, it should be a time when our community comes together and honors David’s life, remembers his time at Denison, and supports those most deeply affected by his loss. Yes, Denison and its students are growing and changing every day, but love and support remain constants. That is how we will move forward in this difficult time. Not by implicating aspects of campus life in this incomprehensible loss.

I have never once doubted the strength and resilience of this group of individuals, which to me, is one of impeccable empathy and character. Thus, we experience loss together, just as we strive towards becoming an even more united community together. I am proud to be a student at Denison. I am moved by the love our students have for one another. And I am thankful that so many have proven in this tough time that we understand and support those in our community who need it the most.


9:35 AM February 10, 2014

Mary and george dealy wrote:

We were so sad to hear about this young man’s tragic death. Our hearts are broken and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.


10:52 AM February 11, 2014

Amy Jennison wrote:

Schocking outcome. My most sincerely condolences to the family of this young man.
If I may say so, such strong comments on the partying thing, alcohol consumption and the likes, are really inappropriate at this tragic time and in this forum.
R.I.P. David
“And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take”


12:06 PM February 10, 2014

Jeanne and Tim Murphy wrote:

Our heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of this young man who was on the cusp of moving on to the next phase of his life. A stark reminder that some things defy justification. May you all eventually find peace.


1:18 PM February 10, 2014

Barbara cohn wrote:

As a Denison parent, my condolences go out to the family especially the parents and the friends who have lost a loved one. Wishing peace and healing as you struggle with your grief as a family and community.


3:16 PM February 10, 2014


Heartbreaking and sad, a tragic loss that words can’t seem to describe. Our heart goes out to the Hallman family, friends, and all who have lost. Wishing you peace.


1:38 PM February 11, 2014

Alma Fellows wrote:

This is heartbreaking. My love and support goes to David’s family as well as the Denison community. Some of my best memories of Denison were when we came together to support each other through times of grief and sadness.


12:32 PM February 10, 2014

Rod Hunter wrote:

There are no words that I personally can offer as comfort to the family and friends of this young man. I DO know that Christ can offer what I cannot, and pray the family steps into His rest.


4:46 PM February 10, 2014

Gabriele Dillmann wrote:

My heart is a little more broken again. I am thinking of all of you: his family, his friends, my colleagues. So very sad. While we mourn David, let’s also remember Gus McGravey who died so tragically 2 years ago. Many of you knew both of these beautiful young people.

In times like these, I like to turn to the Polish poet Wistawa Szymborska for a little help when words are hard to find. Let me share it with you.

On Death, without Exaggeration

It can’t take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,
building ships, or baking cakes.

In our planning for tomorrow,
it has the final word,
which is always beside the point.

It can’t even get the things done
that are part of its trade:
dig a grave,
make a coffin,
clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing,
it does the job awkwardly,
without system or skill.
As though each of us were its first kill.

Oh, it has its triumphs,
but look at its countless defeats,
missed blows,
and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it isn’t strong enough
to swat a fly from the air.
Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.

All those bulbs, pods,
tentacles, fins, tracheae,
nuptial plumage, and winter fur
show that it has fallen behind
with its halfhearted work.

Ill will won’t help
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d’etat
is so far not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies’ skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees fall away.

Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it’s not.

There’s no life
that couldn’t be immortal
if only for a moment.

always arrives by that very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you’ve come
can’t be undone.

Wistawa Szymborska


11:36 AM February 10, 2014

Simon wrote:

Lest we forget, a student at nearby Kenyon died in 2005 under similar circumstances:


2:58 PM February 10, 2014

John Ludlow wrote:

The tragedy here is obvious but to leave it at that really makes no sense. There must be something we can take from David’s life and death. This event reminded me of an episode from ‘The Story’, an NPR program, about a similar episode in Colorado not too long ago. The African proverb about it taking a village to raise a child will always be true. Here’s the link-I hope it works


3:20 PM February 10, 2014

Ben catrall wrote:

First of all, my condolences to David’s family. It is a tragic loss that a bright, young fellow has lost his life at this early age. I know nothing can bring him back, but something must change in order that such a tragedy never happens again.

I think there is major confusion to the causality of this incident. Again, this is not an accident. It is not alcohol poisoning, it is not an outside factor. This is a student making a wrong decision due to alcohol use, and no one being there to stop him, giving him help, when he clearly needed it. If you think a number of orientations about alcohol use and a couple of power point presentations are going to stop people from drinking alcohol, you are not aware of the situation. It’s college, people are going to drink. If you think otherwise, actually you are being ignorant. And the more you restrict people, put more rules on them, the more alcohol they will consume.

However, there can be certain measures to prevent that things get out of control. Friends can take care of one other, fraternity brothers/sorority sisters etc can help each other out. That is why they are there. If not, there could be a system where students are easily transported up and down the hill. There have been way too many instances that safe ride would not respond at 1-2am when I was at Denison and they just did not care no matter what the situation was. We all know its not the most efficient program.

Denison is not directly responsible for this, but if you think that the administration has nothing to change this situation except trying to stop alcohol consumption on (which is never going to work, the more regulations there are, the more students will want to drink) then you are being part of the problem and not offering any solutions.

Denison was once a community of students, staff and faculty taking care of each other, not a group of uncaring, irresponsible group people who do not have the courage to properly define and solve the problem. I hope this changes.


8:40 AM February 10, 2014

Kate Kendall wrote:

I am so sorry to hear about this young man. How sad he set off alone in that freezing weather. My most sincere condolences for his friends and family.

I do think Denison cares about its students but is burdened with a reputation as a party school and expectations from students that they will work hard and party hard. When I was there, partying was mostly on the weekends, but when my daughter was there, partying started on Wed. night.

I do think some kind of mandatory seminar at orientation addressing alcohol awareness is necessary. The restaurants and bars that serve students should also be responsible for limiting drinks to students and having some kind of buddy system to get kids home. But most of all, the drinking culture needs to be reversed.

We will all be looking to the new President for leadership on this issue.

Again, my heartfelt sympathy to all who knew and loved David. Make his loss mean something.


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