June 11, 2019
Dear ESF Community,
It is with great sadness that I share the news that one of our students, Beth Ann Newkirk, was declared officially deceased at about 12:30 a.m. today as a result of injuries suffered in a house fire early Monday morning.
Beth, shown in the photo here, came to ESF last fall as a transfer student in EFB.
She was unresponsive when firefighters pulled her from a burning house on Buckingham Avenue. Her family arrived in Syracuse shortly after the fire. They are honoring her wishes to participate in the organ donor program.
Beth’s family has been in touch with Dean Anne Lombard, and I spoke with them as well. They said Beth loved ESF after she arrived here from Hudson Valley Community College, and that she felt she was where she belonged.
Beth, who was originally from Troy, New York, worked as a field technician with the New York Natural Heritage Program. She worked through Dr. Melissa Fierke’s lab and assisted with the statewide pollinator project. Beth was also a student in two of Dr. Rebecca Rundell’s courses. Rebecca called Beth a “glowing bright light in both of those classes and a joy to be around.” Rebecca was so impressed with Beth’s ability that she hired Beth this summer as a work-study collections intern in the Roosevelt Wild Life Collections.
I am grateful to Melissa, who has provided invaluable assistance to Beth’s family, and to the staff at Centennial Hall, who extended their hospitality to the family for as long as necessary. The family asked me to convey their gratitude for the support they have received from the ESF community.
Students who need assistance at this difficult time are urged to call ESF Counseling Services at 315-470-4716. For staff and faculty, support is available through the Employee Assistance Program coordinated by Nan Clark,
The fire is under investigation by the Syracuse Fire Department and the Syracuse Police Department.
Please join me as we keep Beth and her family in our hearts and prayers. I will update you when I have new information to share.