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Troy University professor found dead

A Troy University professor was found dead on Wednesday when university police responded to an apartment on Park Street to perform a welfare check.

Dr. Neal Billington, a professor of molecular ecology in the biology department, was found dead in his apartment when police gained entry.

The Troy Police Department, Troy Fire Department and Haynes Ambulance also responded when Billington did not respond to university police efforts to get him to answer the door.

Troy Police Chief Randall Barr said that Billington appeared to die of natural causes.

Billington, a native of Manchester, England, joined the Troy University faculty in 2000. He earned the doctorate degree in aquatic ecology from Loughborough University (England) in 1985, and had completed the bachelor’s degree there in 1978. Prior to joining the faculty, he was a faculty member at Shippensburg University (Penn.), University of Maine at Machias, and Southern Illinois University (Carbondale).

Troy University released the following statement on Billington’s death:

“The University family today mourns the passing of Dr. Neil Billington, professor of molecular ecology. Dr. Billington was a well-respected member of the faculty and much-loved by students. His loss will be deeply felt.”

Dr. Steven L. Taylor, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, reflected on the loss of the professor.

“Dr. Billington was a valued member of the Troy University community and a prominent presence in the College of Arts and Sciences. We in the college are currently in a state of shock,” Taylor said. “I know his colleagues and students in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences are especially hard hit by this news. I, personally, had many pleasant interactions with him over the years, as his time at Troy fully overlapped with my own. The hallways of McCall Hall will be a little less cheerful with his passing.”

Dr. Glenn Cohen, chair of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, also expressed his thoughts on the loss of his colleague and friend.

“He was a very popular teacher because he was a good storyteller and he listened to his students – never brash with them,” Cohen said. “They felt they had a surrogate parent in him because he was a such a good listener. Other faculty members like him as well.

“Neil was a full person. That’s what we’ll miss the most. Some people you work with never reveal their true selves in their work, but he did. He was a full person and that’s why we’ll miss him for some time to come.”