Press Club

Marymount Prof Dies After Being Struck by Car in D.C.

(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Rhett Leverett, a history professor at Arlington’s Marymount University, has died after being struck by a car in Northwest D.C. this morning.

Marymount president Matthew D. Shank announced Prof. Leverett’s death in an email to students this afternoon. According to various news reports, which didn’t identify Leverett as the victim, he was struck by a car around 9:00 a.m. on the 400 block of Sixth Street NW, near the Archives Metro stop.

Leverett, 60, lived in a condo one block away, according to public records. After the accident, he was transported to a local hospital, where he passed away. D.C. police are investigating the accident.

On the website, students described Leverett as a somewhat tough grader, but at the same time said he was fun, introduced humor into his lectures, and had a knack for making the material interesting.

“Love his lectures and [he is] a great person,” one student wrote.

“Greatest History Professor I have ever had,” said another.

Wrote another student: “Leverett is the best! He makes class interesting and fun, but he knows what he’s talking about.”

Leverett specialized in history about modern and early modern Europe, according to the Marymount website. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1975 and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama.

In his email, Shank urged students to keep Prof. Leverett and his family in their prayers.

Dear Students,

It is with great sorrow that I write to inform you that a member of our faculty, Professor Rhett Leverett, died in an accident this morning. While walking near his home in DC, Mr. Leverett was struck by a car; he was transported to George Washington University Hospital, where he passed away.

A member of our faculty since 1991, Mr. Leverett was known as an outstanding teacher and advisor. He will be remembered for many things, including his kindness, his sense of humor, and his unfailing dedication to Marymount University and our students.

We will hold a service to honor Mr. Leverett’s memory here on campus in the near future; I will inform you of the details once the arrangements have been made.

Please keep Mr. Leverett and his family in your prayers.

Matthew D. Shank

A letter from a student of Prof. Leverett’s, after the jump.

From Janine Byas, a senior history major at Marymount:

I am typing this email through a flood of tears. I’ve just been informed that my history professor, Dr. Rhett Leverett of Marymount University, was struck by a car this morning and did not survive…

He was a great man, dedicated and inspiring teacher (one of the FAVORITES at MU), and his roots in Washington D.C. run deep as a 10-year Assistant Professor of History at Marymount University and a former government employee. He leaves behind a loving little dog named, Beth, whom he adored as his own child.

Too often stories like these come up and the victim is forgotten with nary a mention of his/her contributions to the community. Leverett deserves far better than this. He was a remarkable educator: the kind of person you go on to tell your children and your grandchildren about because he was so phenomenal and truly passionate about his work and committed to his students. He loved history, and was an expert on European events, traveling regularly to France, London, and Rome to visit the living histories. He shared DC culture, current national and world events, and anecdotes from his personal and professional life to enrich the classroom dialogue. He was loud and boisterous in class, commanding attention with his shrieks of excitement as he retold histories juiciest tidbits. Just last week, he shared an account of being a guest at a charity event of the French ambassador to the US where he met the ambassador who inquired about his profession. During his formal address to all of the guests, he called upon Dr. Leverett on the spot to answer historical questions about France and US relations (How much did the United States pay for the Louisiana Purchase?!?). Leverett knew the answers and the French ambassador was so impressed, he personally thanked the professor for attending.

This man was all heart. Larger than life… As an educator, Rhett Leverett was an American hero. These few words can not begin to do him justice…

There are many students whom I know are greatly impacted by this tremendous loss. I had a class with him last semester, and this semester I was so impressed and moved by him that I was compelled to take two more: World War II/Fascism/Holocaust and History of Modern France. Next semester I was going to take another. This semester, he was going to take our evening classes to visit the WWII memorial and the Holocaust museum. In no way, could I ever have imagined that I would be memorializing him this semester.

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