Other Notable Deaths

April 08, 2012

Richard Descoings, director of the Institute of Political Studies of Paris, was found dead on April 3 in a New York hotel room. An autopsy performed the next day was inconclusive as to the cause of death. Mr. Descoings, who was 53, was visiting the city for a United Nations conference of university presidents. He is credited with introducing more social and ethnic diversity to the university, known as Sciences Po, during the 16 years he led it, and with adding six regional campuses.

Adrienne Rich, the pioneering feminist poet and essayist, died on March 27 in Santa Cruz, Calif., at the age of 82 from complications of rheumatoid arthritis. At the institutions where she taught—including Brandeis, Columbia, Cornell, Rutgers, San Jose State, and Stanford Universities, and Scripps and Swarthmore Colleges—she blazed a trail for feminist, lesbian voices in academe. Among often-noted incidents in her life of public protest was her response to receiving the National Book Award in 1974 for Diving Into the Wreck. She refused to accept it alone, instead going onstage with fellow nominees Alice Walker and Audre Lorde and accepting it on behalf of all women whose voices, she said, had gone unheard "in a patriarchal world."