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Chico State

Fond Farewell: Professor Emeritus Patrick McCaffrey

The Trinity Hall Bell Tower shot from below through a canopy of trees and greenery.
(Jason Halley / University Photographer)

Patrick McCaffrey, professor of communication sciences and disorders at Chico State for nearly 39 years, passed away on April 4. He was 84.

Born January 30, 1940, in Cork City, County Cork, Ireland, McCaffrey was hired to teach at Chico State beginning in the fall semester of 1975. He remained here, teaching and serving as the department’s graduate coordinator for nearly 37 years. McCaffrey retired in 2010 and worked as a member of the Faculty Early Retirement Program from 2011–14.

Former colleagues Suzanne Miller and Robert Blackmon said McCaffrey’s student-first attitude helped make him a great professor, his gift for listening a great mentor, and his warmth and kindness a great friend.

Patrick McCaffrey photo in front of a door.

“I came to Chico State brand new to teaching and he was a great mentor to me,” Miller said. “He created the pattern for how things should be done, and we’ve done them that way ever since.”

McCaffrey developed a rapport with his students by sharing his story with them while also learning how to pronounce their names correctly and greet them according to their culture, Miller recalled.

“His students loved him because of the way he showed them respect,” Miller said. “They would come to his office hours and talk to him, and he seemed to know about their lives beyond the classroom. They really responded well to that.”

As the department’s graduate coordinator for many years, McCaffrey was also a trailblazer in the world of online teaching. He taught his first fully online class in 1997.

“He learned about this new technology and understood right away that it was an opportunity to reach more students,” Blackmon said.

McCaffrey is survived by his wife, Sally Blackwood McCaffrey of Petaluma; his brother, Noel McCaffrey (Elaine) of Chico; his daughter, Kelly Smith (Ryan) of Petaluma; his son, Alex McCaffrey (Amanda) of Chico; his niece, Madeline McCaffrey (Scott) of Oakland; and his grandchildren, Aiden and Keira Smith of Petaluma. 

No services are planned but the family wishes that all who are so inclined raise a parting glass of Guinness to an extraordinary human being who will be missed immeasurably.

The University Flag will be lowered in his memory on Wednesday, July 10.