Tom DiLorenzo

Tom DiLorenzo

Victim: Thomas Michael DiLorenzo

Alleged murderers: Two 15-year-olds and one 16-year-old

Crime date: July 17, 2020

Crime location: Charleston, South Carolina


Thomas was killed just a month after retiring from his position as provost and vice president of academic affairs at The University of North Dakota. He and his wife Suzanne Austin moved to South Carolina after Suzanne became the provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at the College of Charleston. Prior to being provost and V.P. of academic affairs at UND, Dr. DiLorenzo served as the Chair of The University of Missouri’s Psychology Department, the Dean of The College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Delaware, and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Alabama.

Dr. DiLorenzo was allegedly attacked by a group of juveniles while walking with his wife in the intersection of King and Clifford Streets in Charleston. One suspect, who was allegedly armed with a handgun, demanded money from the couple. During the attack, Dr. DiLorenzo was shot. He later died at the hospital. Three suspects have been apprehended and prosecutors are seeking trial in adult court.


Thomas DiLorenzo, Sept. 12, 1956—July 17, 2020

Thomas Michael DiLorenzo, a lifelong learner, teacher, leader in higher education and lover of his family and life itself, died suddenly Friday, July 17, 2020, in Charleston, South Carolina. He was 63.

Born Sept. 12, 1956, in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, to Emil and Mary Jane DiLorenzo, Tom was the valedictorian of his high school class in Jeanette, Pennsylvania, and went on to the University of Pittsburgh, where he graduated cum laude with degrees in economics and psychology. He earned his doctorate of philosophy degree in clinical psychology from West Virginia University.

Upon completing his graduate degree, Tom joined the faculty at MU, where he rose through the ranks to become chair of the Department of Psychology. In 1999, he was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Delaware, where he met his future wife, Suzanne Austin.

In 2010, Tom moved to Birmingham, Alabama, when he was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Suzanne arrived later and served UAB as senior vice provost. Tom later was named provost and senior vice president at the University of North Dakota, a position from which he retired in June 2020. Tom and Suzanne moved to Charleston on July 1.

Tom was known in higher education circles for his servant leadership with an eye toward the bedrock principles of shared governance with faculty, staff and students. He was a true advocate for and a steward of the institutions he served.

He provided clear-eyed guidance for his universities in a multitude of issues, including affordability, access, state funding, diversity and inclusion, free expression of speech on campus and economic development at the local, state and national levels.

Tom is survived by his wife, Suzanne; her daughter, Lilla Alchon (Alex Dickson), both of Washington, D.C.; his daughter, Kendall Wagner (Alex Wagner), and grandchildren, Keegan and Harper, all of Newark, Delaware; and son, Nathan DiLorenzo (Angela Tomaso), and grandchild, Brooklyn, all of Des Plaines, Illinois.

He also is survived by brothers John of Greensburg, South Carolina, and Mark of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, and stepbrothers, Rick and Don Holtzman of Atlanta, Georgia, and Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, respectively.

Tom loved cooking and traveling. His family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the College of Charleston Cougar Pantry, the UAB Blazer Kitchen and the UND Food for Thought Pantry.

Former MU psychology chair Thomas DiLorenzo united people

By The Missourian

Thomas DiLorenzo, chair of the Department of Psychology at MU in the 1990s, led the department from factionalism to unity, made the transition from researcher to administrator with grace and was as attentive in his private life as he was to work, his friends and former colleagues said.

DiLorenzo died in a shooting July 17 in Charleston, South Carolina, at age 63. He had retired in June as provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of North Dakota and moved across the country with his wife, Suzanne Austin, who recently became the provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at the College of Charleston, according to Charleston’s Post and Courier newspaper.

He joined the faculty of MU in 1984 and became chair of the Department of Psychology in 1990. He left to become dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Delaware in 1999.

“I feel it’s a devastating loss for everybody, for his family, for the people — many people he’s helped at different levels of their careers,” said his close friend Kenneth Sher, a professor in the psychology department.

Sher joined the faculty at MU in 1981, three years before DiLorenzo arrived.

He said DiLorenzo always walked around with a stack of 3-by-5-inch index cards in his front pocket so when he saw a problem, he could make a note of it and take care of it when he got back to his office.

Before DiLorenzo became the chair, there had been “kind of dysfunction” in the department, said David Geary, a professor in the department who worked with DiLorenzo in the 1990s.

Conflicts had erupted between different areas of psychology, Geary said. “But Tom, who is a clinical psychologist, came in and helped deal with those issues, got the department’s finances and management in shape, reduced a lot of the conflict and got everybody much more cooperative, working together better.”

Geary, who became chair of the department in 2002, thought DiLorenzo invested more time in resolving conflict than a typical department chair.

“He talked to people,” Geary said. “You could go to his office, and if you had issues or concerns or whatever, he would listen to you, and he worked with each of the different training committees to help resolve some of their issues, like who gets graduate students, who doesn’t.

“He just tried to make everything more transparent and fair across different areas within the department,” Geary said.

Steven Hackley, an associate professor in the department who joined the faculty at MU in 1988, agreed with Geary.

“He really tried to be equal to everyone,” Hackley said. “Tom was able to help us cultivate collegiality within the department to a level that made factionalism disappear,” Hackley said.

As chair, DiLorenzo had “a winning personality,” caring about everyone in the department and making himself not only available to faculty but also open to staff and graduate students, Hackley said.

“He expanded the monthly faculty meeting to try to get staff and grad students to attend — that was an unusual step,” Hackley said. “And it was new at the time.”

Successful transitionChairing an academic department is time-consuming, Hackley said.

Before DiLorenzo became the chair, he had specialized in addiction, which is one of the most prominent fields in psychology, Hackley said.

“All of us love research and teaching, or we wouldn’t be here. So it is a sacrifice, and I have to say that I know some people when they were chair actually kept a count of how many days until their term was finished,” Hackley said. “But it was different with Tom DiLorenzo.”

One of the reasons for his smooth transition from teaching and research to administration was that DiLorenzo took pleasure in other people’s successes.

“I almost thought if he weren’t an administrator, he should be a clergyman because he was the kind of person who deemed his success by the success of those around him,” Sher said.

“Most of us in academia, we’re not socialized to do that,” Sher said. “We’re socialized to make sure we do well, and we’re not as necessarily attentive to how well everybody else is doing.”

DiLorenzo was also described as a good father.

He always made time to watch daughter Kendall’s gymnastics practices, Sher said.

“He was one of the busiest people I knew,” Sher said. “So he’d keep working at her practices until it was her turn. He’d look up and watch her. And when her turn was done, he got back to doing his work.”

DiLorenzo even developed a skateboard park in Columbia to ensure the safety of his son, Nathan, who was a skateboarder, Sher said.

DiLorenzo was also a good friend.

Sher remembered a Friday afternoon when he and DiLorenzo were walking back from having drinks downtown. Their route took them past Bluestem, the art and handicrafts store on Ninth Street in downtown Columbia.

Sher stopped to have a closer look at a beautiful ceramic lamp in the store’s window. It was a little on the pricey side, so he decided not to buy it just then.

“Must have been about a week later, Tom just shows up with the lamp as a gift,” Sher said. “It was just very attentive and generous of spirit.”

Hackley shared a similar story.

Around 15 years ago, Hackley attended a banquet of a scientific society, which had a tradition in which the new president gives a gift to the outgoing president.

Hackley was the outgoing president at the time, and Robert Simons was the new president. Simons contacted DiLorenzo, who got him a T-shirt from Booches, the renowned Ninth Street burger and pool joint, as a gift to Hackley.

“I was honored and pleased that Tom had gone through the effort to do that for me,” Hackley said.

Nelson Cowan, a professor in the department, described DiLorenzo as “a fun-loving, socially sensitive professor who seemed to make every interaction interesting and rewarding.”

In DiLorenzo’s obituary published in the Missourian, his family asked that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the College of Charleston Cougar Pantry, the UAB Blazer Kitchen and the UND Food for Thought Pantry.


Husband of College Provost Killed in Robbery in S. Carolina

By U.S. News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The husband of a provost at the College of Charleston was shot and killed Friday morning in a robbery along a street of upscale shops and restaurants just weeks after moving to South Carolina, authorities said.

Tom DiLorenzo was walking with his wife several blocks south of the college campus around 6:15 a.m. when he was shot. His wife was not hurt, College of Charleston President Andrew Hsu wrote in an open letter to the school.

Two men approached the couple on King Street and one of them with a gun demanded money, Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis said.

DiLorenzo, 63, died a short time later at the hospital, authorities said.

Surveillance video recorded the two men who robbed DiLorenzo leaving with a third man in a 2005 silver Acura with a South Carolina licence tag “SPM 409,” Francis said.

No arrests have been made, Francis said.

DiLorenzo and his wife, Suzanne Austin, moved to South Carolina weeks ago as Austin started her new job as provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at the College of Charleston, Hsu said in his letter.

DiLorenzo retired in June after seven years as provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of North Dakota, Hsu said.

The college is offering counseling to anyone who needs it.

“This act of violence against one of our community members is deeply unsettling, and in this season of constant hardships, the pain and shock may seem unbearable,” Hsu said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

CPD: 2 juveniles arrested in death of husband of College of Charleston Provost


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Charleston Police Department announced two juvenile males were arrested in connection to the murder of 63-year-old Tom Dilorenzo, the husband of College of Charleston Provost Suzanne Austin.

Officials say the suspects are 15 and 16 years old and both are charged with murder and attempted armed robbery. One is also charged with possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

Police say the suspects are being held in the juvenile detention center and will have a hearing before a family court judge.

Officials say 6:15 AM, Austin and DiLorenzo were walking near the intersection of King and Clifford Streets when they were approached by the juveniles. One of the males was armed with a handgun and demanded money from the couple. DiLorenzo was shot during the robbery attempt and later died at MUSC. Austin wasn’t injured.

Police believed it was an isolated incident.

The department says the investigation is ongoing at this time.

Charleston Police: 3rd juvenile charged after shooting death of Tom DiLorenzo


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Charleston Police have arrested a third juvenile for the deadly shooting death of a man on July 17.

Authorities announced Thursday night that a 15-year-old has been charged with murder and attempted armed robbery.

Tom DiLorenzo and his wife, new College of Charleston Provost Suzanne Austin, were out for a walk that morning near King and Clifford Streets that morning.

Officials said the couple was targeted in an attempted robbery and that DiLorenzo was fatally shot during the encounter. Austin was not physically hurt.

Authorities have already arrested two other juveniles.

The investigation is ongoing.

Juveniles charged with murder of Tom DiLorenzo to be tried as adults

By Count on News 2

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Solicitor Scarlett Wilson on Monday announced plans to try three juveniles involved in the July 17 attempted robbery and murder of Tom DiLorenzo as adults.

Wilson said that her office’s “review of the fact and evidence in these cases, to include the histories of these defendants, supports our belief that the safety of our community is best served by trying them as adults.”

According to the report, the Charleston Police Department (CPD) determined that the three juveniles drove a recently stolen car from North Charleston to Downtown Charleston, where the suspects committed multiple armed robberies.

They robbed a 74-year-old female and a 20-year-old male construction worker before the fatal incident.

The driver remained in the car while two of the suspects held Suzanne Austin, the recently appointed Provost of College of Charleston, and her husband, Tom DiLorenzo, at gunpoint, demanding money. DiLorenzo was fatally shot following the attempted robbery.

Two suspects fled on foot, and the driver fled in the stolen vehicle.

The suspects were originally charged in family court. Now, Wilson’s office has filed to transfer jurisdiction to General Sessions Court.

The Department of Juvenile Justice will now conduct evaluations regarding the “sophistication, maturity, and susceptibility to rehabilitation” of each juvenile.