Remembering Dr. Richard Watson

Dr. Richard Watson

Richard A. R. Watson, Ph.D., professor of Communication Studies and English who taught at Chapman for more than 40 years and helped found the Communication program, has passed away.

“Richard had a quirky personality which charmed many of the students.  His creative spirit challenged them to think in new ways and see the discipline through fresh eyes,” Chancellor Daniele Struppa said in an e-mail to the university.

After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Washington, Dr. Watson’s  initial appointment at Chapman University was in the English department.   He worked with Richard Doetkott, professor of Communication Studies, to form the Communication department in 1972.  For the rest of his career, he had a joint appointment in both English and Communication.

While teaching in both English and Communications, Dr. Watson also taught a range of courses, including literature and science, and literature and film to communication theory. He was very interested in using  flash animation, music, poetry, science fiction stories, case studies and analysis to explain “the psycho country that haunts our collective dreams.”   And according to his Web site — — he loved to play the clarinet, sax and baroque and antique flutes.

One student posted this comment on the Chapman University Facebook page: “The only 8 a.m. class I ever had at Chapman was Dr. Watson’s Theories of Persuasion class, and he kept the whole class awake. What a sad day for Chapman.”


There will be a brief recognition of Dr. Watson as part of the regular worship service at First Congregational Church on Sunday (Jan. 31) at 10:30 a.m.  Members of the campus community are welcome to attend.  The church is at 2555 N. Santiago St. in Santa Ana. More info, call or e-mail Debbie BeGell at 714-639-0311 or, Fran Dickson at 714-532-7788 or or Barbara Mulch at 714-997-6733 or

There will also be a memorial service to celebrate Dr. Watson’s  life at Chapman. It will probably be scheduled for late February or early March.  More information on these arrangements will be provided later.

Dawn Bonker


  • A gentle spirit who I have known for years. One of the most influential people in my education and life. Wonderful to have known him. His laugh will be with us forever.

  • the beauty of art is in how it lives on.

    art lived on inside of dr. watson.

    for many of us who got a glimpse of what that could mean, the ups and downs and everywheres, through his eyes, that art still lives on.

    may the blessings of this now passed man manifest in our own lives!

    the spirit of art is great among us!

  • after 30 years i was able to connect with 2 of my distinguished professors Dr. Watson and Professor Doetkott. Thanks for all what you done.

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