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Beloved NYU professor Steve Cohen passes away at 48

Posted on October 7, 2012 | by Neela Qadir

Steve Cohen, NYU’s talented dramatic writing professor, passed away suddenly on Sept. 29. Students taking Cohen’s writing class were informed about his passing on Sept. 30 through an email from Tisch School of the Arts dean Mary Schmidt Campbell. He was 48 and had a sudden cardiac arrest.

Most well known for writing the movie, “The Bachelor,” Cohen was an adjunct faculty member in the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing. Before becoming an adjunct faculty member, Cohen earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts in film from Columbia University and worked as a studio executive at Savoy Pictures. After producing writing credits for an episode of “Numb3rs,” Cohen served as an executive producer for an HBO movie titled “Lonehero.”

According to Tisch senior Monica Skoko, Cohen’s passing was a sudden shock to many in the NYU community.

“Steve never seemed unhealthy and was relatively young with a beautiful young son [whom] he always talked about, and a wife who also taught in the department and is just as loved,” said Skoko.

Skoko added that Cohen was proud of projects he worked on, writers he encouraged and the students he taught.

Students who took Cohen’s dramatic writing class echoed the sentiment and described him as an encouraging and genuine professor.

“Steve Cohen was an absolutely wonderful professor,” Tisch junior Anna Mehle said. “You could tell that he really cared about each and every one of his students and their work. I continually left class feeling inspired by the feedback that he would give me.”

Cohen’s colleague and chair of Dramatic Writing, Richard Wesley, agreed, and could describe Cohen’s greatest attribute: the deep affection he felt for each and every one of his students.

“He brought a strong professional background into the department,” Wesley said. “But what made him a truly valuable member of our faculty was his caring manner and willingness to reach out to our students [and] to be there for them.”

According to students, Cohen spent hours of his free time working with his undergraduates to hone their project.

“He [Cohen] opted to workshop my screenplay with me on his own time and just not get paid for it. No other professor would ever offer that — reading a full 120-pages per week and providing written feedback is a lot of work. But he was willing to do it for me because he believed in me as a writer and he was that passionate about his students,” Tisch senior Nathanie Yaskey said.

Cohen indubitably left an impact on the NYU community and will be always remembered by his students and colleagues.

“His legacy in our department is everlasting,” Yaskey said. “He was a one of a kind professor and an even more unique human being.”

The service was held Sunday at the Rosenthal Pavilion of Kimmel Center for University Life from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 4 print edition. Neela Qadir is a contributing writer. Email her at


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