Outside Davidson College’s main academic building Sunday afternoon, a place where Professor Robert Whitton has helped shape young minds for more than 30 years, several hundred people gathered to celebrate his work pray for his recovery after he was struck by a car Thursday.
They sang. They prayed. And they shared stories of how Professor Whitton has touched their lives.
Sunday’s vigil happened as Professor Whitton remained in critical condition at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte with a severe head injury. On Thursday night, he was crossing Concord Road at Faculty Drive, a side street that leads to the college’s Richardson Stadium, when he was struck by an eastbound 2005 Jeep SUV. He was taken by helicopter to the hospital with what rescue personnel said were “life threatening” injuries. The Jeep’s driver, a 39-year-old Concord man, was issued a citation for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
At the vigil friends, students, and colleagues shared their thoughts and prayers. Davidson College President Carol Quillen, who was inaugurated last month, said, “Even though I’m new to the Davidson community, I already know that Dr. Whitton sets the example for someone dedicated to teaching something that he loves.”Last year, the Davidson student body voted Dr. Whitton as the college’s favorite professor.
“Professor Whitton had a love for math, and more than anything he loved to share that love with you,” said Donna Molinek, Davidson’s math department chair. “He even loved to share it with those of you whom math didn’t come so easily,” she said with a smile on her face.
As fellow colleagues, students, friends, and family members spoke of their love for Dr. Whitton, one theme ran true throughout: The Davidson community wants Dr. Whitton back soon – so he can brighten their days with his warm smile and inspire them with his love for teaching.
The college’s four a cappella groups sang, including Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” performed by the Delilahs, and “Ave Maria” by the Generals – two songs Professor Whitton had told group members he particularly enjoyed. Professor Whitton is the faculty advisor to the Delilahs.
Professor Whitton’s wife, Amy Diamond, and four daughters, were there, to offer their thanks for the outpouring of support, and to express their concerns about the situation. Ms. Diamond noted that Davidson is sometimes criticized as a being “bubble,” but the support she has received in recent days, and which she expects will continue, convinced her that such a bubble is “a good place to be.”
PREVIOUS AND RELATED COVERAGE
Nov. 4, 2011, “Davidson professor struck by car, critically hurt.”
Shelley Rigger contributed to this article.