*Officials at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, N.Y., confirmed early Thursday that Derrick Griffith, dean of student affairs and enrollment management, was among the fatalities that occurred during Tuesday night’s Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia.
“Derrick was a pillar in the community. He served the students of Medgar Evers and the greater community with passion and he will be sorely missed,” a statement from the college reads.
Griffith, 42, was formerly a school principal and founded the CUNY Preparatory Transitional High School in 2003.
In 2011, he became the executive director for Groundwork, an organization dedicated to helping young people who live in low-income urban communities.
“He was a champion for the downtrodden and he encouraged students to pursue education with vigor,” the statement continues. That same year, Griffith joined Medgar Evers College as assistant provost, and he went on to fill several other roles during his time there.
Just one month ago, the City University of New York Graduate Center awarded Griffith a doctorate of philosophy in urban education.