After suffering from medical emergency, professor returns to class

After suffering a medical emergency during class, Kwame Akonor, an associate professor of diplomacy and international relations, returned to class this week. The incident occurred last Thursday when students responded as well as Public Safety and emergency medical technicians.

A faculty member since 2005, Akonor is the director of the Center for Africana Studies and the African Development Institute, a New York-based think tank, according to the Seton Hall website.

According to numerous student reports, the incident occurred during an 11 a.m. class in Corrigan Hall during an International Relations course.

File photo

Senior criminal justice Taina Vasquez claimed that 10-15 minutes into class, Akonor was sitting down and then the next minute he was unresponsive and seemed to be having a seizure.

According to Vasquez, initially students were unaware of what was happening until some students moved closer to Akonor and realized something was wrong.

Vasquez said that a student ran towards the IT department across the hall to get assistance from an employee, while another student called 911 and Public Safety. Another student said to start a timer in case the professor was suffering from a seizure.

“In the moment it was very shocking because one moment he was talking to us about having dinner with Mayor De Blasio and then the next he seemed to be having a seizure or a mini stroke,” Vasquez said. “It was very scary not knowing what was happening and not knowing what happened after we left the classroom.”

Vazquez added that once security and other staff members came into the students were asked to leave the room. Emergency medical technicians addressed the situation, according to Vasquez.

Vasquez said the incident was frightening and she would never wish the incident upon anyone.

“I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised at how our class responded and really tried to stay calm and take the necessary measures to make sure we got help for our professor,” Vasquez said.

A junior business management and political science major Frank Mabalatan said the incident was unnerving. According to Mabalatan, the class was in the middle of a discussion and then the professor became unresponsive.

Mabalatan said that when Akonor was seemingly having a seizure, Mabalatan jumped out of his seat to support Akonor’s head. He claimed he did not want the professor to choke on his tongue.

Furthermore, Mabalatan said a classmate called 911 and another student timed the episode. After rushing toward the professor, Mabalatan ran outside the classroom to find an employee in Corrigan Hall who would be able to assist the professor. Once he returned, the professor had stopped seizing.

“A few minutes later a Public Safety official showed up and began to ask my professor if he was diabetic, hypertensive and if had eaten anything,” Mabalatan said. “At this point, the faculty member and the Public Safety official suggest I go.”

According to Public Safety, the professor has recovered and students claimed he had returned to class on Tuesday.

Thomas Schwartz can be reached at

Author: Thomas Schwartz

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