In the aftermath of his death, statements were released by Skidmore College and Unified Digital Group, where he has worked since graduation. Here's the full statements:
Skidmore President Philip A. Glotzbach
An incident of terrorism that takes the lives of innocent people anywhere in the world touches each of us in our fundamental humanity. But the effect is more pronounced — and far more personal — when our community is directly linked to such a horrendous event.
I am deeply saddened to inform you that yesterday's truck attack in New York City took the life of a recent Skidmore graduate, Nicholas Cleves '16. He was 23 years old and living in New York, working as a software engineer, analyst, and web developer. At Skidmore, Nicholas was a Computer Science major and Physics minor, and studied Italian. He also worked as an IT Help Desk assistant and astronomy tutor.
Our hearts go out to Nicholas's mother, Monica Missio, who is a member of the Skidmore class of 1981, the other members of his family, and his closest friends. At moments such as these, we realize anew how powerless are our words in the face of profound grief. Even so, we reach out to offer our thoughts and prayers, along with the hope that knowing that others are also touched by this loss may provide at least some small measure of comfort.
For anyone who needs support, Counseling Services may be reached at 518-580-5555. As a reminder, all employees may utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which may be reached at 518-793-9768. Wilson Chapel is open from 9:00-11:00 p.m. today; 8:00 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday; and 12:00-2:00 p.m. and 6:30-10:30 p.m. Friday.
When confronted by a seemingly endless series of tragic and absurd events, we naturally react first with sadness and then anger, and those emotions motivate us to take action to confront such senseless threats to public safety. However, our best actions — whether individual or political ones — are guided not just by emotion but much more by reason. As a college community especially, we need to reflect not just on the acts of violence but on their causes and, above all, on the most effective ways to prevent them in the future.
Ultimately, we must retain our faith in the future — of our nation and the world. In commenting on New York City's decision to hold yesterday's Halloween Parade as planned, as a symbol of normalcy and determination, NBC commentator Peter Howell praised the City's commitment to remain "defiantly optimistic." I hope we can embrace this attitude ourselves, remaining defiantly optimistic, even when challenged by events such as the needless death of a promising young member of the Skidmore family. The future, ultimately, is what we make it to be. And we must remain committed to this essential work.
Unified Digital Group President Alex T. Silverstein
Nicholas Cleves was a light of his generation: a brilliant, humble, compassionate young professional.
I hired Nicholas as an intern during his senior year at Skidmore College (2016) and, without hesitation, made him a full time employee as soon as he graduated.
The impression Nicholas made when I first interviewed him stills stands out. He ranged with ease across advanced computer science topics from A.I. to game theory, cryptography and Bitcoin, programming patterns and the latest engineering happening at Tesla.
His innate aptitude and youthful enthusiasm proved without doubt that he wasn’t just pursuing a degree, but was immersed in the technological zeitgeist of our era.
Working with Nicholas was always a treat, thanks to his mirthful personality combined with a willingness to take on any challenge. Nicholas had a deep sense of loyalty, not just to the company but to his family. He was mature well beyond his years.
As Nicholas navigated the diverse responsibilities of his new career, I recall my amazement at how fast he apprehended and applied key ideas. As a burgeoning software engineer, Nicholas absorbed a multitude of programming techniques on-the-job, often for waiting customers, in mere weeks.
Perhaps more importantly, Nicholas was wonderful with people. He was polite, funny, and, above all, considerate in action. He possessed a rare capacity for emotional IQ in an often-stoic professional milieu.
He was composed, accepting, and open to all. It pains me greatly to reflect that we can no longer experience his unique gifts. A growing light has been senselessly extinguished.
Yet these recollections, and the positive influence they continue to bear, remind me that I was truly blessed to call Nicholas Cleves my colleague and friend.