Penn State Beaver professor honored with posthumous emeritus status

John Chapin, a longtime professor of communications, remembered for mentorship, research, volunteerism
A photo of John Chapin wearing a brown jacket and smiling in a picture that was taken outdoors

The late John Chapin, professor of communications, was remembered at a memorial service at Penn State Beaver on April 12, where it was announced he has been granted posthumous emeritus status.

Credit: Cathy Benscoter

MONACA, Pa. — The Penn State Beaver community is remembering the late John Chapin, who has been granted posthumous emeritus status and who is remembered for his unwavering support of his students and colleagues at the campus.
A memorial service was held on campus on Friday, April 12, for Chapin, a longtime professor of communications, who died in March. Chapin’s family was in attendance. 
Chancellor Carey McDougall announced Chapin’s emeritus status and also announced that the annual undergraduate research exhibition, which was chaired by Chapin for many years, will now be called the John R. Chapin Undergraduate Research Exhibition. 
“Dr. Chapin excelled in teaching in the field of communication driven by his commitment to serving under-resourced communities not usually engaged with higher education. He not only fostered diversity, equity and inclusion in his classroom, but he fostered graduates from the communications program at Penn State Beaver who do exactly the same, they embark on careers focused on making the world a better place for those who are often overlooked,” McDougall said.
During the memorial service faculty and staff remembered Chapin, who had taught at Penn State Beaver since 1998, for his dedication to his students and for the love he had for the campus and his colleagues. Faculty and staff shared stories about Chapin’s mentorship and friendship over the years and about his impact on his students.
“Dr. Chapin motivated all of his students to reach their full potential, instilling a belief that excellence was within their grasp,” Gabby Fiffick, a 2020 Penn State Beaver alumna, wrote in a social media post. “He presented me with numerous personal and academic challenges, each time leaving me enriched and with broader perspectives. … Post-college, he continued to be a mentor, encouraging me last year to embrace a new opportunity I was hesitant about, leading me to work under an incredible boss.” 
“He was a beacon of positive impact in the world, and his absence will be profoundly felt by many, me included,” Fiffick added.
Prior to his tenure at Penn State Beaver, Chapin was a teaching assistant at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he earned his doctorate and taught part time at two New Jersey community colleges.
In a previous interview at Penn State Beaver, Chapin said teaching was his passion, and he attributed his success to the influence of his teachers.
Chapin’s researched focused on violence prevention, and in particular domestic violence. He received numerous awards at the local, state and federal levels. In 2022 he was the recipient of the inaugural Crime Victims Research Award from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. He also received the 2006 National Office of Victim Assistance Stephen Schafer National Research Award.
The majority of Chapin’s 69 refereed publications applied research on risk perception of violence that was grounded in his community partnerships and volunteer roles and his passion for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. 
“His dedication to this work has been key to student success through related service-learning projects and capstone research projects with the same community partners, as well as collaborating with students on the research so that many of his students have publications in well-respected journals,” McDougall said, noting many students continued to collaborate with him after graduation.
Chapin previously was recognized by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the U.S. House of Representatives for his outstanding research and community service in violence prevention.
Locally, Chapin served from 2008 to 2017 as president of the board of directors of the Women’s Center of Beaver County and was a volunteer at Crisis Center North in Pittsburgh for many years.
“Dr. Chapin leaves a legacy, having had an enormous ripple effect in higher education and in the nonprofit world. He made the world a better place and inspired others to do the same, creating a better future for all of us,” McDougall said.

Dr. Chapin leaves a legacy, having had an enormous ripple effect in higher education and in the nonprofit world. He made the world a better place and inspired others to do the same, creating a better future for all of us.

—Carey McDougall , Penn State Beaver chancellor