New York — Police are investigating the death in a Manhattan hotel of prominent French academic Richard Descoings, who was heralded by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and others as a trailblazer in efforts to open his country's elite schools to the working-class and underprivileged and to foreign students.
Descoings was found dead in his room at the Michelangelo Hotel on Tuesday after he failed to show up for a meeting. Police and emergency medical technicians responding to a 911 call pronounced the 54-year-old dead at the scene. The Daily News and other local media said he was found nude, on his bed.
The cause of death has not been determined, but Descoings' cellphone and laptop were found on a third-floor landing, as if they had been tossed from his seventh-floor room's window, police spokesman Paul Browne said. Browne said foul play had not been ruled out, but he also told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that there was "no determination at this point that he was the victim of a crime."
Descoings, who lived in Paris, was in town for an academic conference. He was the director of the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies, also known as Sciences Po; the institute's website on Wednesday paid tribute to Descoings by posting his photograph beneath the words: "Thank you, Richard Descoings."