Skidmore Community Grapples With Death Of Alum In NYC Attack

Nov 2, 2017

Among the victims of Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York City was a 2016 graduate of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs.

Nicholas Cleves was one of the eight killed after a man drove a truck into a lower Manhattan crowd.

Cleves graduated from Skidmore in 2016. The 23-year-old was living in New York City and working as a software engineer, analyst, and web developer.

In a message to the campus community, Skidmore College President Dr. Philip Glotzbach said Cleves was a computer science major with a physics minor and also studied Italian.

Glotzbach wrote, “we need to reflect not just on the acts of violence but on their causes and, above all, on the most effective ways to prevent them in the future.”

Cleves’ mother also graduated from Skidmore.

Students and faculty were reflecting on campus on a drizzly Thursday. Counseling services are being offered and the Wilson Chapel on campus was opened to all.

Parker Diggory, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life at Skidmore, said students are pulling together.

“So I’ve seen on social media people supporting each other; current students as well as alums. And a couple students who didn’t know Nicholas coming into the chapel just to say a quick prayer and to acknowledge the impact on the community,” said Diggory.

Student Association President Tayler Salvatore called the news heartbreaking and gathered with friends Wednesday night.

“Everybody was very upset and the people I knew, we all reached out to each other to spend time together and tried to be there as means of support for one another,” said Salvatore. “I’m hoping that other members of the student body do that too, because I really think that sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there.”

One of Cleves’ former computer science professors, Michael Eckman, said in a statement he remembers Nicholas as “one of the most cheerful and friendly students we have had in the department.”

Eckman said Cleves was interested in software development, which led to an internship with a Saratoga Springs company during his final semester.

The head of that company, Unified Digital Group, is Alex Silverstein. He wrote on the company’s website that he hired Cleves as soon as he graduated “without hesitation.”

Silverstein called his former colleague brilliant, humble, and compassionate.

One of Cleves’ friends in Saratoga Springs was Bobby Carlton, who said he met Nicholas on the first day of his freshman year. At the time, Carlton was employed at Skidmore’s Apple campus store program.

They stayed friends throughout Cleves’ time in Saratoga Springs and after his move to New York City. Carlton said he communicated with Cleves on Tuesday, just hours before the attack.

“We actually messaged each other on the day he was killed,” said Carlton. “I saw the photo of what he was dressing up as on Halloween and he asked me if I knew what it was. I said ‘Oh, yeah. You’re Clint Eastwood from ‘The Good The Bad And The Ugly.’’ And so, we talked quite often.”

To Carlton, Cleves was “contagious with his outlook on life.” Always smiling.

“A really good person.”