American ambassador, UC Berkeley alumnus, killed in Libya

Christopher Stevens (US Embassy/Courtesy)
Christopher Stevens (US Embassy/Courtesy)

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U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, a UC Berkeley alumnus, was killed along with three other Americans after the American Consulate in Benghazi was attacked Tuesday night.

Stevens graduated from UC Berkeley in 1982 and from the UC Hastings College of the Law in 1989. A native northern California resident, Stevens also attended Piedmont High School and was a member of the UC Berkeley chapter of the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega.

Stevens was slain when a mob of Islamist militants attacked the American Consulate in reaction to an American-made video depicting the prophet Muhammad in a negative light, The New York Times reports.

After studying history at UC Berkeley, Stevens went to Morocco as a member of the Peace Corps during the early 1980s, according to a statement released Wednesday by UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau.

“He played a key role in supporting the Libyan revolution and was a champion for the country’s emerging democracy,” Birgeneau said in the statement. “His life epitomized the best of UC Berkeley’s graduates, a commitment to excellence at the highest level and a passion for making the world a better and more peaceful place.”

Alpha Tau Omega campus president Derek Sayler said Stevens’ work embodied the fraternity’s mission.

“(Stevens’) professional life has provided an example for our fraternity because he encompassed the ideals that we hold dear and demonstrated our most important quality: true merit,” reads a statement released Wednesday by the chapter.

In honor of Steven’s passing, the fraternity chapter raised an American and Alpha Tau Omega flag in front of its house and memorialized Stevens and other victims during a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening.

“You are in Alpha Tau Omega for life,” Sayler said. “We figured we would show our respect to someone who served their country.”

UC Hastings Chancellor Frank Wu also released a statement Wednesday expressing condolences at Stevens’ death.

“The Ambassador was performing the highest role that a lawyer is called upon to perform: public service,” Wu said in the statement. “He and I communicated when he was appointed Ambassador. He had been looking forward to sharing his experiences with students when he returned. This is a tragedy.”

President Barack Obama condemned the attacks Wednesday morning as “outrageous and shocking.”

“Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi,” Obama said. “With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries, and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya.”

Contact Curan at [email protected].