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Message from the President: Passing of Dr. Jonathan Smith

June 19, 2021

Dear members of the Saint Louis University community: 

It is with profound heartbreak that I announce the passing of Dr. Jonathan Smith, our beloved Vice President of Diversity and Community Engagement. Jonathan was a treasured friend, colleague, teacher, and mentor to so many of us. 

Jonathan died suddenly on this Juneteenth and the day before Father’s Day, for which a small celebration with his wife, Rochelle, and their three daughters, Lauren, Rachel and Mariah, was in the works. 

Much of last week, Jonathan was phoning numerous SLU colleagues and sharing the progress of his recovery, and joking about the quality of the hospital-made grits. He was eager to return to the work he so loved and the colleagues, who were so dear to him.  In the many phone conversations with us he was always forward looking and pushing to advance the good work of which he was at the center. 

His death this afternoon in New Haven, Connecticut, leaves an emptiness in our soul and extraordinary grieving in our heart.

Memorial services for Jonathan are pending. 

We extend our deepest sympathies to Rochelle, Lauren, Rachel, and Mariah; to Jonathan’s staff, Regina Walton, Dr. Richard Marks and Luella Loseille; and to his extended family, including his loving mother. 

And to all of us who were blessed to know and love Jonathan, please take time to remember his extraordinary leadership, his moving storytelling, his provocative challenges, his big hugs, and his warm laughter. 


Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.