A message from Dean Douglas Elmendorf  and Associate Dean Debra Isaacson

Dear Members of the Kennedy School Community,

It is with great sadness that we are writing to let you know that David Hicks, a student in the joint degree program between the Kennedy School and Harvard Law School, passed away this weekend following a hard battle with cancer.

Dave was a smart, committed, and caring person. As a joint degree student, he juggled many commitments and yet focused his attention on all of them. He was curious and thoughtful in class and considerate and optimistic in all his pursuits. Academically he was interested in health policy and international relations; outside of the classroom he loved to play the role of deejay and cook. Even as his health demanded more, he was an active participant in classes, and as co-president of the joint degree student group, he helped to bond four years of HKS/HLS joint degree students. Dave’s academic talents at both HKS and HLS were complemented by his charisma and empathy. One of his MPP classmates noted that he put “people over problem sets,” and he had set a goal to have coffee with every single member of his MPP cohort. One classmate noted, “When you did get the chance to get a coffee with him, you were the sole focus of his attention - he wasn’t looking at his phone, or thinking about all he had to get done later. He asked questions, he listened, he made you feel special and important.”

Dave’s passing is a terrible loss for his family and friends, for all of us at the Kennedy School, for our colleagues at Harvard Law School, and for the many people whom he undoubtedly would have served after graduation. In the days ahead we will share information on a virtual gathering in memory of Dave. In the meantime, if you want to talk with someone, please contact the 24-hour urgent care service of the University’s Counseling and Mental Health Services at 617-495-5711.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the many people who cared about Dave.


Doug Elmendorf, Dean, and Debbie Isaacson, Senior Associate Dean for Degree Programs and Student Affairs