Frederick John Kauffeld
Madison/Frederick John Kauffeld, professor emeritus at Edgewood College, died on April 13, 2017, in Saint Mary’s Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin, while being treated for pneumonia.
He was born in Atchison, Kansas, on July 21, 1942, to Esther (Stohs) and Frederick A. Kauffeld.
He attended grade school at Trinity Lutheran School where his father was principal and his seventh- and eighth-grade teacher. He grew to the height of 6’7″ during his Atchison High School years, and he enjoyed both basketball and debate. However, because of scheduling conflicts, his basketball coach insisted that he choose between the two. He picked debate, a choice he never regretted, and one which shaped his life study and profession.
Spanning more than 50 years, Fred’s distinguished academic career began at the University of Kansas, where he received his bachelors and master’s degrees in communication studies. Fred earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986. From his early debating experiences, and throughout his career, Fred pursued the study of argumentation, communication theory, and rhetoric, areas that informed his inspirational classroom teaching as well as his far-reaching and influential research.
From 1968 until 1975 Fred was an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He served as chair for the Communication Arts Department’s Curriculum Committee, which forged an integrated undergraduate communications art curriculum from a traditional speech department, a journalism program, and courses in media studies.
Fred’s love of undergraduate teaching was most apparent at Edgewood College, where he tutored and inspired students for nearly 40 years. Fred’s efforts led to the creation of the college’s Communication Studies program. Until his retirement in 2014, his colleagues’ and administrators’ respect for his practical wisdom and leadership skills drew him into almost every aspect of campus life. Fred served over the years as department chair, faculty association convener, and board of trustees’ representative, as well as a member of the curriculum, budget, vision, scholarship, faculty affairs, master planning, library, and by-laws committees.
Outside the classroom his profound commitment to the field was reflected in his extensive research and writing. At its core was Fred’s pursuit of integrating communication studies and the philosophical study of argumentation. He elaborated this idea in essays that were rigorously reasoned blends of rhetorical theory, philosophy, and American history. He published numerous articles in leading professional journals and gave keynote presentations and invited lectures for a variety of professional organizations and universities in this country and abroad. His work has had a lasting impact in the field. Fred was not only a rigorous thinker but also a tireless advocate for the field of study he so loved.
His friends, family, and colleagues delighted in his generous spirit. Many experienced the benefits of his meticulous writing and the thoughtful, patient instruction of his conversations, not to mention his sharp wit which was as dry as the gin he liked to drink. Some were fortunate to sit at his dining table where he produced memorable feasts of many courses and cuisines. New colleagues appreciated his supportive mentoring, and students were always welcome to talk and learn with him.
He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Christine K. Beatty; sister, Esther Kauffeld-Hoffa and her husband, Dan; sister-in-law, Bonita Swan; nephews: Erik (Heidi) Swan and Kyle (Cassandra) Swan; nieces: Turi (Jeffrey) Suski and Rhiannon (Corey) Ernst; grandnephews: Noah Swan and Carter Ernst; grandnieces: Sarah Swan and Hannah Swan.
A memorial reception will be held on Saturday, May 20, from 3 to 6 pm in the Washburn Heritage Room at Edgewood College, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, Madison, Wisconsin. Memorials in his name are suggested to Edgewood College, Wisconsin Public Radio, and the International Crane Foundation.
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