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UMass graduate student dies unexpectedly

  • In this Oct. 21, 2016 photo, students pass the Old Chapel on the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst, Mass. The university has announced the death of a graduate student and sociology te. (Suzanne Kreiter /The Boston Globe via AP) Suzanne Kreiter



Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

AMHERST — A University of Massachusetts teacher and Ph.D. candidate died Friday from an unexpected illness, according to his obituary.

Manuel David Matos Díaz, 36, was a sociology teacher and active member in the graduate student union. He died unexpectedly at Cooley Dickinson Hospital on Friday, according to his obituary.

“As a concerned citizen, Manuel was a strong, devoted social advocate for Black equality and the Diaspora,” his obituary reads. “He was a distinguished speaker around the world, fighting against structural racism and in support of women’s rights. A lover of music, and arts, Manny was a gentle soul whose infectious laugh lit up a room.”

Matos was born in the Dominican Republic, and moved with his family to New York City when he was in middle school, according to the obituary. He eventually moved to Clinton for high school, and graduated from UMass Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science in 2005.

Matos was also a former grievance coordinator with the Graduate Employee Organization, or GEO, which released a statement on Facebook calling him a “strong fighter for workers’ rights on campus.” The union said he was instrumental in fighting for graduate students who were paid late, and in building the union in the lead-up to contract bargaining.

“We mourn the loss of him, his words, his ideas and his living spirit,” the statement reads. “Ours is a better union because of Manuel’s tireless work in the name of justice and his dedication to facing injustices head on.”

The university also released a statement mourning the passing of Matos.

“On behalf of UMass, we extend our sincere condolences to Manuel’s family and friends who are mourning his untimely death,” Dean of Students Cara Appel-Silbaugh said in an email sent to the UMass Amherst community.

Family and friends are invited to join Matos’ family Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Callahan, Fay and Caswell Funeral Home at 61 Myrtle St. in Worcester. A service celebrating his life will begin at 7 p.m.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.