msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/20/2011 12:36:06 PM ET 2011-09-20T16:36:06

University of Pennsylvania students who were puzzled by a no-show professor later found out why he missed the first day of class: He died months ago.

The students were waiting for Henry Teune to teach a political science class at the Ivy League school in Philadelphia on Sept. 13.

University officials say that about an hour after the class's start time, an administrator notified students by email that Teune had died. The email apologized for not having canceled the class.

Penn junior Mallika Vinekar was among those who waited. She told the student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian that they just figured he was late.

Teune died in April at the age of 75.

The story was first reported Monday by the Penn student blog Under the Button in a post titled "The Worst Thing To Happen To A Class Ever."

The post began: "How annoying is it when you drag yourself out of bed to class and the professor isn’t there? You’re all like, what the hell is this guy doing, worst class ever, etc… and then you find out, via an email sent while you’re waiting in class, that the professor isn’t there because he died. And the department forgot to tell you."

According to the post, the notification email read:

"PSCI 291-301 is canceled.
We are so sorry for this last minute cancellation.
With Dr. Henry Teun
e’s passing, this course should have been cancelled over the summer and was an oversight."

The university's "oversight" was ridiculed by several commenters responding to the blog post.

"Shame on you, Penn campus ‘communications,’" wrote one commenter who identified herself as Tess Gump. "It makes Mark Twain’s quote pale by comparison. You remember. He said, 'The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.' In Dr. Teune’s case, he might have said 'The reports of my death have been greatly ‘oversighted.’ "

According to an obituary published April 25 in The Daily Pennsylvanian, Teune had been a faculty member of the political science department since 1961. He was chairman of the department from 1975 to 1979 and was vice dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from 1967 to 1969.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this story.

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