Investigation Launched After Baptist University Professor Found Dead at Club Orlando

Investigation Launched After Baptist University Professor Found Dead at Club Orlando

According to university officials, David Hanbury, 37, an associate professor of psychology who had been teaching there since 2015, was in Orlando for a Southern Psychological Association meeting. His family had first reported him missing before he was discovered dead.

Although the cause of death is unknown, Orlando police informed USA Today that the death “does not appear suspicious at this time.” Police described their investigation into the death as “active and ongoing,” according to USA Today.

In a situation like this, when there were no overt indications of damage or sickness, a representative for the Orange County, Florida, Medical Examiner informed the Washington Blade that it would take around ninety days for the results of toxicology and blood work to be completed in order to determine the cause of death.

In answer to a question from the Blade, Cassie W. Jones, Averett University’s Associate Vice President of University Marketing and Communications, declined to say if Hanbury self-identified as gay.

Jones stated, “As an employer, we cannot comment on the personal matters of our employees.” However, she responded to queries from Blade in an email by saying “absolutely” when asked if the institution would have treated Hanbury with respect and supported his tenure there if he had come out as gay.

The website of Averett University demonstrates that, in addition to other categories like race, religion, and ethnicity, the university has a nondiscrimination policy that covers sexual orientation and gender identity. The Gender and Sexuality Alliance, or GSA group, is an LGBTQ student organization at the university, according to the website.

Jones stated that a memorial service for Hanbury on March 18 on campus demonstrated the respect and enduring support for him from his colleagues in academia as well as from students.

“Nearly 250 students, faculty, staff, and community members joined as one Averett family, united in grief and sorrow, as we gave thanks for the remarkable life and influence of Dr. Hanbury on our lives and on the University,” Jones stated.

“Averett University is committed to inclusion and belonging for all who learn, work and visit our campus,” Jone stated to Blade. “Openness and inclusivity are embedded in our institution’s core values, and we know our diversity makes us stronger.”

The Baptist General Association of Virginia broke its connections with Averett University in 2005 due to a disagreement over the university’s stance on homosexuality, according to a story published in The Baptist Standard, an independent journal that covers the Baptist Church, on May 9, 2011.

The Baptist organization reportedly took issue with the university’s backing of an LGBT student organization, according to other press accounts at the time.

Averett University presently “is a part of the Baptist General Association of Virginia family of educational partners,” according to Jones’ statement to the Blade. “We are committed to meeting students where they are in their faith journey and welcoming those of all faiths or no faith,” the speaker continued.