Interactive Media grad Noah Buntain G’17 dies following cancer bout

The Elon alumnus was a doctoral candidate at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where he taught a multimedia storytelling class and researched the effects of virtual and augmented reality.

Noah Buntain, a 2017 graduate of Elon’s Interactive Media program, died on Feb. 17 following a battle with liver cancer, according to The Daily Orange, a student-run newspaper published at Syracuse University. Buntain was a doctoral candidate and graduate research assistant in Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Noah Buntain G’17 (left) presents his capstone thesis project during the Interactive Media program’s annual Capstone Exhibition on May 17, 2017, on the second floor of Powell Building.

According to The Daily Orange, Buntain arrived at Syracuse shortly after his graduation from Elon and taught a multimedia storytelling class. His own research focused how humans process information in virtual and augmented reality, and how those technologies could be used to tell better stories.

“Noah came to Newhouse in 2017, and was known to his friends and faculty colleagues for his intelligence, integrity and generosity,” said Newhouse Dean Mark Lodato in an announcement following Buntain’s passing.

At Elon, Buntain is also remembered for his intellect, as well as his ability to encourage and relate to fellow students and faculty alike.

“Noah instinctively knew how to inspire his fellow iMedia students, project collaborators, and – yes – even the faculty,” said William Moner, assistant professor of communication design. “He was a trusted confidant to many, and regularly made time to help his peers who may have been struggling. He left an indelible mark on us and will be remembered fondly for his graceful approach to everything he did.”

Added Maggie Mullikin, manager of graduate and global programs: “Noah was hard working, thoughtful, deliberate, interested and interesting. He cared about the world, the people close to him in his cohort, and in his personal life. He rarely missed a chance to learn and edify others. He simply loved to share knowledge with all those around him.”

Buntain’s ability to connect with others led his classmates to select him as their student speaker at the 2017 Interactive Media Commencement. It was a fitting selection, according to classmate Samantha Solomon G’17.

“In his speech, Noah said he had come to value mystery,” Solomon recalled. “Although I am certain this isn’t the mystery he had in mind, the words he spoke at our graduation ceremony will forever live on. Noah showed our class who we wanted to be when we grew up and, to be honest, I am still growing into his shoes.”

Shortly before Buntain’s passing, alumna Kelly Dunville G’17 created this graphic to honor her former Interactive Media classmate.

In the days preceding Burtain’s passing, alumna Kelly Dunville G’17 created a graphic to honor her former classmate – see accompanying photograph. The graphic was shared with him via email with the following note: “One of your classmates located your iMedia graduation speech and they lifted your quotes from the page and made what you see here – a beautiful lasting celebration of you.”

Prior to arriving at Elon, Buntain earned a bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University and served as director of the media and communications program at Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa. He was also a journalist and designer at the Coeur d’Alene Press and The Spokesman-Review.

Associate Professor Phillip Motley offered an eloquent final reflection on Buntain and their time together, noting the impact the Interactive Media graduate made.

“Some students you can never forget,” Motley said. “Maybe because of a strong personal connection, or the excellent work they produced in a specific class, or because of their creativity and sophisticated thinking, or… many reasons. Noah Buntain was and always will be in that category for me, and, I believe, for all of the faculty and staff at Elon who were fortunate enough to spend time with him, teach him, and learn from him.”