Chapman mourns passing of adjunct professor Susan Larsen


Susan M. Larsen, Ph.D.

Susan M. Larsen, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of sociology at Chapman University since 2002, passed away Jan. 7 following a recurrence of cancer. She was 49.

“A respected and caring instructor, Dr. Larsen was also deeply committed to volunteer work with adults and children with disabilities,” said Edward Day, Ph.D., chair of the sociology department. “Her research areas included social work, child abuse, foster care, domestic violence, counseling, psychiatric disorders and persons with disabilities. Chapman University was privileged to have her work with so many of our students during the last decade and a half and mourns her loss.”

In addition to Chapman, Larsen taught at Cal State Fullerton, where she was an associate professor of human services. She earned a bachelor of science degree in human services from Fullerton in 1994, a master’s in social work from Cal State Long Beach in 1996 and a doctorate in education from Claremont Graduate University in 2001, focusing on cross-cultural studies and special populations.

Among Larsen’s ventures outside the classroom was a restaurant named after her son Blakely, who has autism. The business sought to place special needs individuals in roles such as greeters or bus staff, and relied heavily on college students for its other employees.

Larsen is survived by her children, Blakely, Parker and Tatum Larsen, as well as a sister, Kris, and brother, Steven.


Robyn Norwood


  • Absolutely heartbreaking. Susan was the reason I went into social work. She always made me feel welcome and comfortable, even when I was having my own issues at home. I’m so sorry for her family. She was a wonderful professor, mentor, and human being.

  • Susan was my favourite professor at Chapman, and the reason I went on to pursue my masters in social work. I took all of her classes and she was such an amazing mentor to her students. We’ll all miss her so much, I can’t believe what a huge loss this is.

  • Susan Larsen was an incredible addition to Chapman and enriched the lives of everyone who got to take a class from her. Her passion and honesty about the work steered so many students in the right direction. She will be missed and I hope she knows she left behind a whole student body full of people carrying on her work that she inspired.