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Susan Williams
Office of University Communications

Nicole Roales
Office of University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, December 30, 2009

IU community shocked, saddened by professor's death

New Year's Day vigil planned to honor English professor

NOTE: For additional information about IU Professor Don Belton and the loss his death represents for his students, colleagues and community, go to

Dec. 29, 2009

Assistant Professor Don Belton

Print-Quality Photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University is saddened by the loss of a professor.

Don Belton was an assistant professor in the IU Bloomington Department of English, and he was a member of the Creative Writing Program faculty.

"Assistant Professor Don Belton was an important African-American writer specializing in fiction and nonfiction who began teaching at IU Bloomington in fall 2008," said Provost Karen Hanson. "He was a generous and talented professor who had much potential. We were shocked and saddened by his death."

Jonathan Elmer, chair of the IU Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, said Belton was a well-liked and talented faculty member who was respected by faculty, staff and students.

"Don Belton's friends, colleagues and students in the English Department are shocked and terribly saddened by the news of his death," Elmer said. "His great talents as a writer, his extraordinary generosity to his students, and his warmth of personality were gifts to us all. We will miss him terribly."

Prior to his work at IU Bloomington, he taught at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pa. Belton was the author of the novel Almost Midnight, and was editor of Speak My Name, an anthology exploring the gulf between real and represented black masculinity. His writings appeared in literary reviews, literature anthologies, cultural journals and popular magazines and newspapers. He had been a fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference at Middlebury College, Macdowell and Yadoo artists colonies, the Rockefeller Center in Italy, and the Center for Media Studies at Brown University.

He has taught literature, fiction and world cinema at the University of Michigan, Macalester College and the University of Pennsylvania. He lectured on James Baldwin at the first African American Writers in Europe Conference at the Sorbonne; on black literature and black popular culture in the Ivory Coast of West Africa; and on Robert Mapplethorpe at the University of Sao Paulo, School of Communications and Arts, Brazil.

His writing and teaching interests include writers in community and exile, and writing about home.

To speak with IU faculty familiar with Belton's work, contact Nicole Roales, University Communications at 812-856-3717 or To speak with Professor Jonathan Elmer, chair, Department of English, call 812-855-3421 or

New Year's Day vigil planned to honor English professor

The Indiana University and Bloomington community is invited to attend a community vigil in honor of Assistant Professor of English Don Belton. The vigil will be held on Friday, Jan. 1 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at the southeast corner of the courthouse square (the intersection of Walnut Street and Kirkwood Avenue).

Rae Greiner, assistant professor of English at IU Bloomington, said the gathering will serve two important purposes. "Members of the academic community and wider community will gather to acknowledge and honor a dear friend, colleague, mentor and teacher. But we will also hope at this time to demonstrate that Don was an important and valued member of the wider Bloomington community."

Candles will be provided for the vigil, but everyone who attends is welcome to bring his or her own.