Professor Richard Doetkott was remembered as a great teacher, friend and communicator during a memorial service held in his honor on Saturday, March 3, in Memorial Hall. Friends, alumni and colleagues gathered to remember and share stories of the professor known for his trademark “Mickey salute” and the gift of never taking life too seriously.
“He was a man who played many roles,” said longtime friend and Department of Communications colleague and assistant professor Allen Levy, Ph.D.
Doetkott died Dec. 21 of a heart attack. He was 75. He was a part of the Chapman community since he started teaching at Chapman College in 1964. His many projects include helping launch the Department of Communication Studies, Chapman Radio, American Celebration and the first audio-visual program as well as film and television courses. But for Professor Doetkott, the most important milestone was the development of his popular communications class 20 years ago.
Michael Immel ’75 remembered Doetkott as “the speech god, a master teacher who helped students become effective speakers.”
President Jim Doti spoke of Doetkott’s immeasurable contributions to the university and described him as “in many respects Mr. Chapman.” President Doti also announced that the recording studio at Panther Productions will be named the Richard and Patricia Doetkott Studio.
Patricia Doetkott explained the ‘Speech God’ character her late husband often portrayed during his teaching. “Dick had many different pompous characters to help students deal with anxiety, one of which was the ‘Speech God.’ All of his characters had HUGE pompous egos, but the most important thing is there was no pomposity in Dick. He had a healthy ego, but he was not pompous at all.”
Lance Lockwood, who taught with professor Doetkott for 10 years and co-authored Introduction to Public Conversing with the professor, recalled Doetkott as a serious teacher, but one who didn’t take life too seriously.
“Dick made sure to teach me to never take myself too seriously, because no one did,” Lockwood said. “The most important thing Dick taught me was to teach right up to that line, because you know if you step over it all hell will break lose,” Lockwood said. “So Dick said, ‘Let’s just move the line.’”