Local service set for Friday, March 18 for Vanderbilt student killed by terrorist

Posted on: March 9th, 2016 by tgregory

Vanderbilt University business school graduate student Taylor Force was studying entrepreneurship in Israel when he was stabbed to death in a terror attack on March 8.

A local service is planned for Friday, March 18 for Taylor Force, the Vanderbilt University graduate student killed by a knife-wielding terrorist while studying in Israel.

Force, 28, a first-year student at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, was part of a Vanderbilt contingent of 30 students and four staff members who were spending the spring semester in Israel for a course on global entrepreneurship taught by Mark Cohen, a Vanderbilt professor of American competitive enterprise and law.

Cohen and other members of the Vanderbilt group have returned home safely, according to an email from Owen Dean M. Eric Johnson.

Force was from Lubbock, Texas, where a memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday, March 14 at the Broadway Baptist Church, Johnson said in the email.  The Nashville service will be held at 4 p.m. the following Friday at Vanderbilt’s Benton Chapel with a reception following in the Owen Graduate School lobby.  

 Force was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a field artillery officer before enrolling last fall at Owen.

“Taylor was exactly the kind of quietly confident and highly accomplished student that exemplified the Owen School’s ideal of leaders without egos,” Johnson said. “He saw his time at Owen as a promising time for him as he transitioned from active service in the military to a new life in business and starting his own company. Inside and outside of the classroom, people valued his insight, his service and his friendship. The Owen community is a better place because Taylor chose to be a student here.”

Johnson said counseling resources are available for those who were on the trip and for any member of the Owen community who needs them. Force’s friends have established a GoFundMe site for donations to support his funeral services. Contributions may be made at https://www.gofundme.com/cktee7qs.



Message from Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos

Dear Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff,

It is with extreme sadness that I write to inform you that Taylor Force, a student at our Owen Graduate School of Management, was fatally wounded March 8 in a stabbing attack while on an Owen school trip to Tel Aviv, Israel. All other Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff on the trip are safe.

Taylor embarked on this trip to expand his understanding of global entrepreneurship and also to share his insights and knowledge with start-ups in Israel. He exemplified the spirit of discovery, learning and service that is the hallmark of our wonderful Owen community. This horrific act of violence has robbed our Vanderbilt family of a young hopeful life and all of the bright promise that he held for bettering our greater world. 

Taylor’s family and his friends and colleagues have our deepest sympathy and utmost support.

In light of this loss, we as a community can look to find strength by continuing our commitment to build and nurture an educational environment whose foundational mission is to expand world peace and enlightenment.

University resources are available for faculty, students, and staff as needed. For students, please reach out to the PCC (615) 322-2571; faculty and staff can contact the Employee Assistance Program by calling (615) 936-1327.  The Office of Religious Life and University Chaplain can be reached at (615) 322-2457.


Nicholas S. Zeppos



A Special Message from the President and Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee

As many of you have heard, Taylor Force, a graduate student at Vanderbilt University was killed in a brutal terrorist attack in Israel earlier today. On behalf of our entire Jewish Federation family, we offer our deepest condolences and our prayers go out to the family and friends of Taylor Force. We are saddened beyond all measure at this wanton act of violence that has taken the life of such a fine young man.

Vanderbilt University and the State of Israel are an integral part of our Jewish Federation and the Nashville Jewish community. This tragic loss has hit home in a very profound way. We share the grief of all of the individuals whose loved ones were killed and injured today in Israel and during the recent terrorist violence targeted at all of Israel’s citizens. And we grieve for the Vanderbilt community which is shocked and suffering with the death of Taylor Force.

The Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee also stands by and with Israel and its people at this difficult time. We will continue with our ongoing engagement efforts with the Jewish State, through leading community trips to Israel and through our advocacy to advance the safety and security of Israel.

As we receive additional information about the events that took place today we will back in touch.


Carol Hyatt, President                 Mark S. Freedman, Executive Director


Statement by Vanderbilt Hillel

Hillel joins with the rest of the Vanderbilt community in mourning the tragic death of Taylor Force, a Vanderbilt student in the Owen Graduate School for Management, who was tragically murdered during a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. We send our deepest condolences to Taylor’s family and friends.

Taylor was participating in a spring break trip to Israel through the Owen School, one designed to give Vanderbilt students the opportunity to explore the country’s impressive business and entrepreneurial opportunities. We are heartbroken that this experience ended with such a cowardly act, and the entire Hillel community grieves for all the victims of this senseless and deplorable violence.

May Taylor’s memory be a blessing, and may the Almighty send comfort to his family, friends, and all mourners. Any members of our Vanderbilt community are welcome to reach out to the staff of Vanderbilt Hillel at ari.dubin@vanderbilt.edu or (615) 322-8376.