Ben Gupta Remembered

Ben GuptaStudents, faculty members and friends celebrate life of graduate student who died suddenly in December.

GW graduate student Benjamin Kane Gupta, 28, who died in his sleep Dec. 19, was remembered Monday as an extraordinary leader and spirited friend during a memorial ceremony held in Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre.

Mr. Gupta, who had been pursing a joint M.B.A. and law degree, also worked part time in the State Department's Global Partnership Initiative. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, who are friends of the Gupta family, attended the memorial and made remarks.

Secretary Clinton recalled watching Ben grow u p and said she was proud to see his growing dedicated to the ideals of diplomacy. She highlighted his work in the Department of State calling him "a tremendously mature and effective young person," with "a can-do spirit and highly honed sense of organization." He was also a delightful colleague, she said. "It was just fun working with Ben Gupta, and fun isn't a word that is always associated with the STate Department.

Ben Gupta wasn't "going to be" a public servant someday, Secretary Clinton said. "He already was a public servant, and a very successful and accomplished one."

President Clinton spoke directly to Mr. Gupta's parents and brothers, encouraging them to always find ways to keep Ben in their lives. "Some people live four times as long and don't do as much good," President Clinton said. "Let us always remember Ben, a beautiful man with a beautiful life."

Law School Dean Paul Schiff Berman and Business School Dean Doug Guthrie both highlighted Mr. Gupta's ability as a leader to his peers. His professors often remarked that Mr. Gupta had a sense of seriousness that isn't often seen among students, Dean Guthrie said. Dean Berman said that during the few times they had met, Mr. Gupta made a memorable impression as someone with whom the deal would like to collaborate.

GW President Steven Knapp announced that the university would award Mr. Gupta both an M.B.A. and a law degree posthumously in May, as he was only a semester away from finishing both degrees. Dr. Knapp said that hearing Mr. Gupta friends' and family's reminiscences touched him deeply.

Several of Mr. Gupta's professors and friend offered their memories, and Kris Balderston, special representative for global partnerships in the State Department's Global Partnership Initiative, called Mr. Gupta "a living example of what Secretary Clinton called 'smart diplomacy.'"

Law School Associate Dean for International Comparative Legal Studies Susan Karamanian, also a friend of the Gupta family, said that in a world where people are most often judge on their accomplishments, Mr. Gupta stood out for his relationships with other people. "Most importantly, [I'll remember] his respectful treatment of others," she said.

At this year's GW-Oxford Summer Program in International Human Rights Law, a "Ben Gupta Lecture" will feature remarks by a prominent speaker on topics important to Mr. Gupta, Ms. Karamanian said-particularly human rights and religious freedom.

GW Law School graduate Heather Harms, J.D. '11, who had worked closely with Mr. Gupta, recalled his sense of balance. "Ben was seriously about what he wanted to accomplish in life, but he also didn't take himself too seriously," she said. "Ben always brought his best to the table, and was a leader and model for our group.