Professor Flowers remembered for passion to students, university


Professor John Flowers


A memorial service for Professor John Flowers, Ph.D., will be held Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m. in the Wallace All Faiths Chapel of the Fish Interfaith Center.  The Chapman community is invited to attend and reflect upon Professor Flowers’ life.  Immediately following the service, a tree overlooking the Attallah Piazza will be dedicated to him and the many contributions he made to Chapman.

Professor Flowers was passionately committed to the preservation of the Earth and its flora and fauna.  Donations in his name to organizations committed to those ideals are requested in lieu of flowers.


The following letter was released from the Office of the Chancellor, Daniele Struppa, announcing the passing of John Flowers, Ph.D., professor, Schmid College of Science and Technology.

Dear Colleagues:

It is with great sadness that I report the sudden passing of John Flowers from a heart attack on Tuesday afternoon.  He was in New  the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine where three of his students, senior psychology majors, were presenting a paper.  Several colleagues have remarked that it was particularly fitting and poignant because John was doing not only what he loved but also something that was vital to his being.

A Professor of Psychology, John was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow as an undergraduate student in philosophy, and he completed his MA in psychology and PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Southern California.  During the following decade, he taught and consulted at several hospitals and universities in the area.

After joining Chapman in 1981, John went on to make significant contributions to the university during his service.  He played a central role in growth and development of the Department of Psychology, serving at various times as chair and director of its graduate programs.  A consummate, award winning teacher and dedicated mentor of students, he taught a variety of courses, at every level.  He strove to ensure that students planning to be psychologists or family therapists received the best possible education.  John involved hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students in the research experience. He supervised 3-4 student individual studies each semester, and many of these students presented their research at professional conferences and/or published in professional journals.

John was also a highly respected scholar.  When he joined our faculty he was already an established researcher with numerous publications.  He continued to research at prodigious levels throughout his academic career.   He did it because he loved research and writing.  His list of journal articles, book chapters, books, etc., on his vita is over eight pages in length.  He also gave more than 225 presentations at conferences and workshops, nationally and internationally.

John was one of the few persons in the field who has provided regular writings on the philosophy of psychology and on psychological practice.  He is considered an expert and authority in these areas, and his books on clinical practice have been used to train untold numbers of today’s providers of mental health services.  During his career, he was the recipient of several grants and served as senior editor for three journals.  John’s accomplishments placed him in the top levels of his field.

John was passionate about his profession.  This was demonstrated in numerous ways.  In addition to his key role in preparing hundreds of students to enter the field of psychology, he was very active in active in a number of professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, and the Society of Behavioral Medicine.  Committed to helping current practitioners, for over three decades John  e annually gave a five-day workshop on a variety of topics at the Western Regional Conference of the Family Service Association of America.  In the few years he did not do the workshop, he was invited to do a special presentation.

In addition to his dedication to teaching and research, John was fully engaged in the campus community, especially faculty governance.  As a member of countless faculty committees and councils, he always provided significant insights and frequently served as chair.  John displayed the highest level of professionalism and judgment, while coincidentally providing his colleagues with a heightened sense of consciousness regarding faculty governance and due process.  John brought to the faculty an exceedingly clear perspective of professional ethics and social morality, and an unselfish commitment to distinguish right from wrong.

As word of John’s passing spread on campus, many comments have been received.  Following are just a few from students, alumni, and colleagues, which illustrate the special regard and affection for John.

Dr. Virginia Carson:   “The words which describe John best are ‘concerned’ and ‘conscientious.’  This year John and I served together as senators.  John was very faithful about attending senate meetings and reporting back to the faculty.  His leadership will be greatly missed.”

Dr. Don Booth, colleague:   “We often talked about collegiality:  John should serve as our model for that term.”

Andrew Parker, student:  Dr. Flowers “helped guide me towards my future as a clinician, and what to expect when I start to apply for PhD programs in psychology. I cannot state strongly enough how blessed and privileged I feel to have known Dr. Flowers, and how thankful I am to have been a student of his.”

Martha Rivera, student and president of Psi Chi, Psychology Honor Society: “Dr. John Flowers was dedicated to supporting his students. He taught many of us to develop a love for hard work and a passion to endeavor and push us through life.  I know that we will miss his big laugh; even when he was being stern, that laugh had the ability to cut through the situation and make everyone else laugh. I think that Dr. Flowers would like to be remembered as a man that worked until the end; he would not want his classes to be cancelled or for any kind of interruption to occur to the schedule. Rather, education is motivating and our thirst for it should never be quenched.”

Susan Jester, former student and currently Associate Director of the Community Clinic:  “John’s advocacy for his students was limitless.  Passionate about his teaching and research, he was probably one of the true ‘mentors’ this University has had.  He did not just teach – he connected and mentored thousands of students here at Chapman.  We will all miss his thundering laugh.”

Dr. Shari Kuchenbecker, a departmental colleague:  “From nurturing students’ budding interest in psychology, honing critical thinking skills, to championing successes by maintaining high standards of excellence across classes culminating in Senior Thesis, John’s contributions to the lives of so many will be passed forward in the role model and legacy he gave us all.”

Dr. Jeannie Walker, Director of Student Psychological Services:  “John was a veritable walking encyclopedia of knowledge on psychopathology.  In class, students were riveted by his animated teaching style, depth of information, experience and examples.  He was a revered (and feared) mentor to undergraduates in psychology, guiding them and accompanying them to prestigious organizations where they could get a taste of what it is to be a researcher and presenter in the field.”

Dr. Ron Scott, former departmental colleague:  “John was one of the best psychologists I have ever known, and his talents as a supervisor of student interns was amazing.  An empirically based psychologist, this was demonstrated in both his teaching and his practice. John was a walking encyclopedia of psychology — if you wanted to do research on any field of psychology, you could do a thorough review of the literature, or you could have lunch with John.”

Dr. Steve Schandler, departmental colleague:  “John Flowers was my mentor, my colleague, and my dear friend.  I will never know a finer person, and I will miss him more than words can possibly convey.  His professionalism, sensitivity, sincerity and unselfish commitment to help others made him a shelter into which all could find refuge from the demands and eccentricities of life.  His wonderful, warm personality and booming countenance brought rays of sunshine into every area and into every heart of Chapman University.  John would want each of us to strive to do the same.”

Devoted to his family, John was proud of each of their achievements.  He is survived by his wife, Jennifer, a recognized novelist, and their daughter, Jaime who received her masters degree in school psychology from Chapman and is working toward her PhD; their son, Jonpaul who will be attending Chapman in the fall; and his beloved Newfoundland Osea.

There will be a memorial service at Chapman, but final arrangements are pending.  There will be an announcement to the community at a later date.  The family invites people to share a memory or thoughts about John for use at the memorial.  They should be sent to the following email address:
.  With the suddenness of John’s death, this is a very difficult time for his family, and they request that no personal telephone calls be made to the family at the present time. Thank you for your understanding.

A valued friend, colleague and role model, John’s commitment, integrity, candor, and humor will be deeply missed.

Dawn Bonker


  • By far, Dr. Flowers was my most inspirational professor at Chapman and perhaps anywhere else before or since.  It is painful to lose your mentors.  We who had the pleasure and privilege of John’s attention and effort to make us good therapists will miss him greatly.  Chapman has lost one of it’s greatest draws.  Thank you, John, for everything.  My life is forever changed for the better by knowing you.

    Russ Tardif, M.A., M.F.T.

  • It is so difficult to express how  knowing Dr. Flowers impacted my life and how saddened I am by his passing. He was like an icon that I assumed was timeless and now I can’t quite grasp that he is gone. What I know though is that Dr. Flowers will never really be gone because he lives through me and my fellow students from the “80’s at Chapman who he taught and mentored and then launched us into being professionals giving back to the communtity. I have found myself so many times quoting Dr. Flowers over the years. He was first my professor that challenged me to be better than I thought possible I could be. He was then my mentor and sometimes clinical supervisor at Chapman in the Clinic. His passion and expertise dominated the Psychology Dept while I was there. I joined his private practice after graduating and had the privelege of working on an international corporate program with him. I learned so much from him and he was the yardstick I measured myself by as I continued in my career. I am still close to many of the students in my class that were touched by Dr. Flowers and we all feel similarly that he was one of a kind. I am so grateful to have had my life touched by Dr. Flowers. Thank you John and my heart goes out to his lovely family. 

    Sharron K. Renfroe, M.A., M.F.T.

  • It is with great sadness that I learned of Dr. Flowers’ passing. I had the pleasure of being taught by, and working with Dr. Flowers and will be forever grateful for his wisdom, his knowledge and remarkable candor and wit. I continue to use not only his books, but his comments as well in my supervision of MFT students. Thank you Dr. Flowers, you will be missed.