Bonnie Petrie and Mike Barajas

Prominent French Scholar Found Dead in NYC Hotel

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JACQUES WITT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — New York police are trying to determine whether the mysterious death of France’s most prominent college head was a crime.

Richard Descoings, 53, was found naked and dead in his Manhattan hotel room on Tuesday.

The esteemed French scholar was the director of the renowned Paris Institute of Political Studies, widely known as “Sciences Po.” The school is known as a training ground for France’s elite. Former French President Jacques Chirac was a student at the school and Dominique Strauss Kahn taught economics at the school before joining the IMF.

He was found naked and dead in his hotel room around 4 p.m. Alcohol and prescription drugs were found in the hotel room, but it is unknown at this time if they played a role in his death.

Police said there was no obvious trauma to the body, but New York City Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said that foul play has not been ruled out.

Authorities are waiting for the completion of an autopsy for a cause a death.

Descoings was in New York for a U.N. conference for university presidents at Columbia University. He was staying at the Michelangelo Hotel with colleagues.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised Descoings in a statement.

“Richard Descoings contributed more than anyone of his generation to furthering the prestige of France’s higher education system,” Sarkozy said.

Hundreds of students gathered at the university today for a memorial service.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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