First-Year Student Dies in Fall From Roof; Investigation Continues, Counseling Available

March 28, 2011 — Thomas W. Gilliam IV, a first-year student in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences and a member of First-Year Council, died early Monday after falling from the roof of the Physics Building.

The University is doing all it can to assist the student's family and friends during this terribly difficult time. The Office of the Dean of Students is assisting the Gilliam family and Tom Gilliam's many friends in every way possible and is getting support for those who need it. The dean's office also is contacting his professors.

After the incident was reported to 911, Gilliam was taken to the U.Va. Medical Center, where he was declared dead.

"Today is a day of great sadness for the family and friends of Tom Gilliam — and for the entire University community," U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said. "By all accounts, Tom was a bright light. Those who knew him thought him destined to lead an interesting life that would include his deep faith, his interest in caring for those less fortunate, and world politics. As a member of First-Year Council, he opened himself to a wide network of friends, and I am told he was hopeful of becoming a resident adviser next year. We mourn the loss of Tom, the promises unfilled, and offer prayers for his family and friends as they begin to deal with their unbearable loss."

University Police began an immediate investigation and worked through the night, and their work continues. The investigation indicates that this was a tragic accident; neither foul play nor suicide is suspected. Alcohol was apparently not a factor. The University is working to determine how Gilliam entered the Physics Building and reached the roof.

Gilliam, 19, was from Albemarle County, but his family has lived in Ireland for the past several years. His parents are Thomas W. Gilliam III, a 1985 graduate of the College and a 1990 graduate of the Darden Business School, and Catherine V. (Vicki) Gilliam of Charlottesville. There is not yet any information regarding a memorial service or funeral. He will be remembered Friday, along with other students who have died this past year, at the annual student memorial service at 4 p.m. in the Aquatic and Fitness Center.

A memorial service will be held Thursday at 3 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3101 Fontaine Avenue Extended. A reception will follow.

As with any student death, the University's first priority is the student's family and closest friends. Any student who needs to talk with a trained counselor should contact Counseling and Psychological Services at 243-5150 during the day and 972-7004 nights and weekends. CAPS has walk-in hours daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Elson Student Health Center, at the corner of Jefferson Park and Brandon avenues.

Media Contact

Carol S. Wood

Associate Vice President President's Office