The Columbia Community Mourns and Remembers Doctoral Student Davide Giri

On Dec. 2, the Columbia community lost one of its own: Davide Giri. On Dec. 3, the Columbia community came together to remember him and mourn his loss.

Kelly Moffitt
December 06, 2021

On Thursday, December 2, the Columbia community lost one of its own. Davide Giri, a PhD student studying computer science at the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Amid this tremendous loss, hundreds of members of the Columbia community came together on the Morningside campus on Friday, December 3, to remember and mourn Giri. 

University Chaplain Jewelnel Davis led the vigil in prayer, followed by remarks from SEAS Interim Dean Shih-Fu Chang and President Lee C. Bollinger. 

"Words seem inadequate; insufficient at a time like this," said Davis. "This tragedy is too, too deep for words; a time to speak, a time to keep silent, a time to gather together. We share the light, we share our lights; From candle to candle, flashlight to flashlight. Light is a symbol of our confidence that hope triumphs over sorrow."

Chang expressed our community's deepest condolences and also shared insight into Giri's work as a Columbia student:

"Davide was advised by Professor Luca Carloni and worked on architectures and system-level design methodologies for heterogeneous system-on-chip, with particular focus on hardware accelerators. He won Columbia’s Andrew P. Kosoresow Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service in 2018."

You can read Chang's full remarks here

After Bollinger finished his emotionally powerful remarks, Columbia Trustee Wanda Holland Greene (CC'89, TC'91, TC'21) unexpectedly and movingly, sang "Amazing Grace" a capella. 

You can watch a video of the full vigil here

Columbia Trustee Wanda Holland Greene (CC'89, TC'91, TC'21) sings "Amazing Grace" at a vigil held on Dec. 3, 2021.

Full Remarks From Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger

The Columbia community has suffered a grievous loss. Davide Giri was our student, our colleague, our teacher, our friend, and our fellow Columbian. When I extend our sympathies to everyone connected to Davide, especially to his parents and family, I speak on behalf of my wife, Jean, and myself, the Trustees of Columbia (who are here this evening), the faculty, the students, and the staff and administration. I also want to recognize that we share in the experience of this incomprehensible tragedy with all of our surrounding neighbors, and, indeed, with all the residents of this City we love.

Even if one did not know Davide, it is easy to imagine him in our minds, since he was of our world: A brilliant doctoral student in an exciting field on his way to an incredible career with extraordinary contributions to the world and a fulfilling life. We so deeply feel the pain and the injustice of that life promise breached in an act of barbarous violence.

A brilliant doctoral student in an exciting field on his way to an incredible career with extraordinary contributions to the world and a fulfilling life. 

Lee C. Bollinger

I am no stranger to grief, and I know firsthand how it lives within us. The intensity of grief varies by many factors—the closeness we bear to the person lost; the time in life when the death occurs; where it occurs; the way it happened; the association this loss has with other losses; and the time elapsed from the passing. By these measures, our pain is and will be very great, indeed. Davide was us, he was young, he was deprived of his life and taken from us by an act of unfathomable inhumanity, only a few blocks from where we hold this vigil, at a moment in history when we are still struggling to cope with a once-in-a-century, near-overwhelming global pandemic—and all this happened just hours ago.

Time will, as we all know, seem to lessen the grief. But, it is also very important to acknowledge that it will never go away. And I’m glad of that. Over my time at Columbia (and before), I have known many deaths, and every single one of those, at some moments and for inexplicable reasons, resurfaces in my thoughts, and I grieve again. Such is life, and I, for one, would not want it otherwise.

While it is, therefore, a truth in life that there is no remedy for grief, there is another truth that is relevant here, which is that we can live with grief and recapture a true and good sense of purpose, sometimes even a stronger sense of purpose, by being and joining with others in doing good for others and for the world. Those of us privileged to spend our lives within universities hold dearly to the belief that humanity at its best is worth both understanding and striving for with all our might. That belief is now, especially at this very moment, worthy of a redoubled commitment.

On behalf of all of us at Columbia, I extend my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to each and every one of you; and, from us, I send our love and support to Davide's parents and family.

Flowers and a scarf from Davide Giri's soccer league

An Outpouring of Support Online

Online, there have been many statements of remembrance from community leaders, friends, and members of Giri's soccer league. Below, a selection of remembrances:

If you have a remembrance of Giri that you would like to share, please email [email protected].

On Sunday, Dec. 5,  The Cathedral of St. John the Divine held a service in memory of Giri. Over the weekend, Columbia also learned that Roberto Malaspina, the second victim in Thursday night's assault, had just arrived from his home in Italy to begin several months of independent research as a Visiting Scholar at the School of the Arts