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Thursday, Dec 25, 2014

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OHIO mourns the death of Chinese student leader


Lei Han, a 24-year-old Ohio University senior economics major, died unexpectedly on Tuesday evening.

The native of the city of Dalian in northeast China collapsed while playing basketball in the Ohio University Ping Student Recreation Center. He was treated by paramedics at the scene before being transported to O'Bleness Hospital in Athens where he died later that evening. An autopsy is being done to determine the cause of death.

Han served as the undergraduate president of the Chinese Student and Scholars Association, which hosted its annual Chinese New Year’s Celebration on Sunday, Feb. 2, on the Athens Campus. CSSA represents the nearly 1,000 Chinese students and faculty at Ohio University and plans to host a campus memorial service for Han at a later date.

According to CSSA faculty adviser Jim Zhu, Han was responsible for a large portion of the New Year's Celebration planning. Zhu also pointed out that Han served as the head of the dragon during the traditional dragon dance during last year's Chinese New Year's Celebration on campus. Zhu, a professor in the Russ College School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, said serving as the dragon head is a traditional Chinese honor that is reserved for a skilled performer and is probably the most difficult job to perform in the 10-person dragon outfit.

"Lei Han was a well-loved and popular student who was connected with many of the Chinese students in the community," Zhu said. "He liked to hang out with his friends and play card games. This is a difficult time for everyone who knew him."

International Student and Faculty Services staffers have been busy helping Han's family with travel arrangements to Athens. Han's memorial and funeral services are pending.

"We are very sad about this loss," said Krista McCallum-Beatty, director of ISFS. "Lei Han was a student leader on campus and our sympathy goes out to his family and friends."

The Division of Student Affairs is working closely with staff from International Student and Faculty Services to provide support to students who are most immediately affected by this tragedy. Students in need of support can call Counseling and Psychological Services anytime at 740-593-1616 to speak with a professional counselor.

"My heart goes out to the family and friends of Lei Han," said Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones. "To lose someone you love is one of the most difficult things anyone can face, and doubly hard when you are so far from home, family and support networks. We will continue to reach out to provide as much support as we can to help them through this difficult time."

Zhu said he wanted to thank the Ohio University staffers who have helped Han's family and friends during this difficult time. He also extended his appreciation to O'Bleness Hospital, Jagers & Sons Funeral Home, the Office of the Dean of Students, International Student and Faculty Services and the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.