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Andrews University Mourns Death
of Esperanza Alvarez-Muniz, 41, an Assistant Dean

Students, faculty post tributes to beloved colleague

BY KERI SUAREZ, Andrews University

A
 ASSISTANT DEAN: Esperanza Alvarez-Muniz, 41, an assistant dean of women at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, died October 14, 2011, in an automobile accident near the Adventist university. [AU Photos]
n automobile accident has claimed the life of Esperanza Alvarez-Muniz, 41, an assistant dean at Andrews University, and the school community is in mourning.

On Friday, Oct. 14 around 4:30 p.m., Alvarez-Muniz was driving with her mother, Lidia Duran, to go pick grapes in the countryside. According to the police report, Alvarez-Muniz was driving east when the accident occurred  at the intersection of Dean’s Hill Road and M-140 in Berrien Center. A vehicle traveling south struck on the driver’s side of Alvarez-Muniz’s car.

Alvarez-Muniz died at the scene, police said. Her mother, Lidia, received non-life threatening injuries and was taken to a local hospital. The other driver, a 49-year-old Berrien Center resident, was not injured.

Alvarez-Muniz’s husband, Paul, was in Maryland on a business trip at the time of the accident. After he and Alvarez-Muniz’s family were notified, the University immediately released the information to the campus community. Moments after the announcement was sent, Campus Ministry chaplains shared the sad news with the hundreds of students attending Fusion, a campus worship service. Within seconds, dozens of online tributes to Esperanza and messages of comfort and support to Paul and her family were posted to an online message board (http://bit.ly/mUDyGu) for Alvarez-Muniz and flooded Facebook newsfeeds of those in the Andrews community. 

 TRIBUTE: A memorial has been set up outside of Dean Muniz's office. Strips of paper, with memories and messages written on them, create a paper chain.
While a student at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Alvarez-Muniz worked as a student dean at Lamson Hall. In 2007, she graduated with a Master’s of Divinity degree, and went to teach in New York City. In 2008, Esperanza married Paul, whom she met while they were both Seminary students. That same year, she received an invitation to return to Lamson Hall as assistant dean of women.

Jennifer Burrill, dean of women at Lamson Hall, described Alvarez-Muniz, or “Espi” as she was affectionately called, as “A genuine, compassionate, resilient, strong and courageous woman of God. Her faith was palpable.”

Alvarez-Muniz often went out of her way to do those little things to show she cared. A tribute posted by a Lamson Hall resident says, “I didn't interact with Dean Muniz on a regular basis, but she was someone who you could tell loved God very much, and loved taking care of His girls here in Lamson. Just last evening she was walking around [the] third floor writing messages on dry-erase boards hanging on some of the doors. I remember thinking, ‘She must care for us.’”

A gathering of support and prayer service has been planned for 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 16, in the Lamson Hall Chapel. All students, staff and faculty are welcome to attend. Funeral arrangements are pending.





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