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In Memoriam: Joyce Flocken Dies at 73

Jan. 4, 2013

black and white image of a teacher with two of her students

Joyce Flocken chats with then-graduate students Philip Aust and Angela Hoppe during the fall semester of 1992.

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Joyce M. Flocken, a former faculty leader whose passion for teaching and learning inspired hundreds of students, has died at the age of 73.

The emeritus professor of speech communication succumbed Jan. 2 to lung cancer at her home in Yorba Linda, where she had been in hospice care since Dec. 28.

Though she had battled multiple ailments for decades, Flocken remained active in retirement. An avid gardener and reader, she enjoyed spending time with family and friends, engaging them in lively debates about books and current affairs.

Flocken was awarded emeritus status in 2001, after serving 32 years on the faculty, including nine years as chair of the Department of Speech Communication, before it was renamed Human Communication Studies. In addition, she spent a decade as graduate program adviser for degree programs in speech communication and communicative disorders.

"One thing that my position has done for me is to enrich my appreciation for every faculty member of the department," she said in 1992, before stepping down as department chair. "They're a hard-working, dedicated group of pros."

Next Leadership Role

Her leadership role extended to the Academic Senate, where she served as chair from 1992-93, as vice chair from 1990-92 and as secretary from 1988-90.

Academic Senate Chair Jack Bedell characterized her as "a strong proponent of collegial governance." They had served together on the Academic Senate Executive Committee. "She was known for her high academic standards and precision of language," he added.

During the 1980s and early '90s, Flocken was a member of the Budget Advisory Committee to the President and chaired the University Priorities Committee from 1986-87. During those years, she was active on six university search committees, including those for vice president for academic affairs and deans for the colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences and Natural Sciences and Mathematics. During the 1970s and '80s, she chaired a dozen university committees devoted to curriculum, educational services and grievance matters.

Flocken served on the Council of Chairs in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, where her department was housed, before the College (formerly School) of Communications was established. From 1988-92, she served on the Executive Council of the School of Communications.

Dedication to Students

Irene Matz, associate dean of the College of Communications, observed that "Joyce's life was her career with total dedication as department chair and Senate chair, as well as being an exemplary professor." She also spoke of how "meaningful she has been over the years to hundreds of our students."

Long into retirement, the emeritus professor's contributions to students continued. For her philanthropy, Flocken was featured in the 2010-11 CSUF Honor Roll of Donors, following the establishment of the Flocken Family Legacy Endowment. She created the fund to assist graduate students in the discipline that had been the focus of her teaching career.

"When you encourage someone, you empower that person, and that is a pivotal role for teachers who care for their students," she said at the time. "At Cal State Fullerton, we're a family working together to make ourselves and our educational progeny better today than we were yesterday."

Rick Pullen, emeritus dean of the College of Communications, recalls how Flocken "truly cared about others. She wanted her students to succeed, she supported faculty who deserved her support, and she loved her department and discipline and wanted each to thrive. I had several discussions with her prior to her setting up her scholarship endowment, and it became apparent to me that she had a heart for helping students who need financial assistance.

"The university, College of Communications and Department of Human Communication Studies are stronger because of the contributions of Joyce Flocken, who played an integral role in creating a solid foundation for each during the earlier years of the university," Pullen added.

Flocken's teaching specialties were rhetoric and public communication, and her research had been published in the American Speech and Hearing Association Journal and Communication Education Journal. Her professional activities included serving a judge for high school speech tournaments and as a guest lecturer.

She was a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Association for Communication Administration, Rhetoric Society of America and California Speech Communication Association, which she served as executive secretary and board member from 1978-81. She also was a four-time delegate to the Legislative Assembly of the Western Speech Communication Association.

Academic Credentials

Flocken earned her doctorate in speech communication at USC, where she was a lecturer and teaching fellow from 1965-69, including a year as director of USC's Beginning Speech Program. At Cal State Long Beach, she earned a master's degree in speech communication, as well as bachelor's degrees in both art and speech communication.

In addition, she had a secondary teaching credential and was an instructor at Long Beach Polytechnic High School from 1963-65.

The longtime Yorba Linda resident is survived by her younger brother, Rick, and sister-in-law, DeVonne; nephew Roddy; nieces Leah, Kimberly and Kristen; and grandniece, Mina. Her older brother, Bernie; and parents, Evelyn and Harold, preceded her in death.

Remarks are invited at her graveside burial at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at Memory Garden Memorial Park in Brea. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Flocken Family Legacy Endowment by contacting Michael Karg of University Advancement at 657-278-3348.

By: Paula Selleck, 657-278-4856

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