A former Florida International University professor who was recognized for his work in improving Liberty Square died Tuesday after being hit by a commuter train in Beverly, Massachusetts.
Moses Shumow, who recently joined the faculty of Emerson College in Boston as an associate professor after leaving FIU in 2018, was riding his bicycle Tuesday morning in the pedestrian lane when he was hit, according to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Transit police.
It was not immediately clear how the accident happened.
By Tuesday afternoon, Emerson College announced Shumow’s death in a lengthy post on the university’s Emerson Today page.
“Moses was passionate about the role of media in vulnerable and marginalized communities, and he was deeply excited to return to Emerson and to engage his students in this important work,” the post by President Lee Pelton and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michaele Whelan said. “The fact that his life and his work were cut short this morning is an unimaginable tragedy.”
Shumow, 42, graduated from Emerson’s Master of Arts in Broadcast Journalism program in 2001.
For about a decade, he used his talents producing documentary films for nationally broadcast programming on the Discovery Channel, PBS and National Geographic, according to his FIU biography.
He received a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Miami in 2010.
“He was the kind of scholar we should all be,” said Sallie Hughes, a professor at the University of Miami. “I don’t know anyone who was so dedicated. He made his life’s work about making his community better.”
Shumow began at FIU in 2010 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor of journalism and media with tenure in 2016.
Former students and colleagues began sharing tributes online late Tuesday, remembering a professor they described to be “warm, caring and passionate.”
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic passing of our friend and colleague Dr. Moses Shumow,” said Brian Schriner, dean for FIU’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, in a statement. “Moses was loved and respected by all who knew him. He was kind and caring, and he made a tremendous difference in the lives of his students, colleagues, and community. Our deepest sympathies to his wife and family.”
He was the kind of professor who “wanted his students to be socially conscious and cared to help others,” said Vanessa Morales, 24, one of Shumow’s former students who graduated from FIU last year.
“His happiness was contagious, whenever he was around he filled the space with good energy,” Morales said.
In 2017, The Miami New Times recognized Shumow as part of its New Generation of Dreamers of South Florida, an annual list of “people who use positions and platforms available to them to advance and improve the black community.”
“I see a real need for engagement in a community like Liberty Square on the part of myself as an academic and my students in terms of going into a community that many of us might never spend time in, but have probably heard about because of negative stereotypes and media portrayals, knowing that under the surface is a really beautiful and vibrant community filled with really amazing people,” Shumow said at the time. “I can tell stories, and I can try to build bridges between my students and the community. I’ve become a part of Liberty Square, and I think that’s a small step.”
In May 2019, he left FIU. Shumow joined Emerson College in the fall.
“Shumow’s research, teaching and community engagement efforts have all involved storytelling and digital media production within Miami’s complex and diverse urban geographies,” the college said in his biography. “More recently, Shumow’s work has been in Liberty City, a historic African American community currently experiencing the pressures of hyper-development and gentrification.”
He leaves behind a wife, Rose, and three children, Emerson said.
“We would like to express our deepest condolences to Professor Shumow’s wife, Rose, his three children, and to his family, friends, colleagues, students, staff and others who mourn his loss,” Pelton and Whelan said in the post.
A vigil was held at Emerson College on noon Tuesday. FIU will be holding a celebration of life on Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the WUC Ballrooms at the FIU Biscayne Bay Campus, 3000 NE 151st St., North Miami Beach.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 10/29 with additional information on vigil and celebration of life services.