Sciences-Po head Descoings found dead in New York


Richard Descoings on October 13, 2009, at the lycee Samuel de Champlain in Chennevieres-sur-Marne, a Paris suburb, where he presented the education reform, following his speech at the Paris Elysee palace.



NEW YORK - Richard Descoings, the director of France's Sciences-Po institute, has been found dead in a hotel room in New York. He was 53.

New York Police Department spokesman Sergeant John Buthorn said Descoings's naked body was found in Manhattan's Michelangelo Hotel at about 12:55 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, Bloomberg reports.

Police are waiting for results from a medical examiner's report but do not suspect foul play, Buthorn said.

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His colleagues became concerned when he did not appear at a United Nations sponsored conference for university heads in New York, according to the BBC.

The Associted Press reported that police said they had found no evidence of forced entry or any signs of trauma to the body. A laptop computer and a mobile telephone thought to belong to Descoings were found on a third-floor ledge below his hotel room but no explanation for this was immediately forthcoming.

The head of one of France's most prestigious academic institutions, Descoings was known for opening up the Sciences Po to less privileged students and transforming the image of France's grandes écoles, the nation's top higher education institutions. Sciences Po is considered a training ground for France's political, media and administrative elite with famous alumni including former presidents Jacques Chirac and François Mitterrand.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Descoings' efforts to reform the education system represented "a historic turning point in awareness of scandalous social elitism in France," The Guardian reported.

Sarkozy himself entered Sciences Po but left having failed to obtain a degree, likely due to a failing grade in English, according to Wikipedia.

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