Department of Communications founder passes away at 85

Dr. Randall “Randy” Capps, founder and head of the Department of Communication for nearly 20 years, passed away on Feb. 2. He was 85.

Clinton Lewis

Dr. Randall “Randy” Capps, founder and head of the Department of Communication for nearly 20 years, passed away on Feb. 2. He was 85.

Michael Crimmins, News Reporter

WKU mourns the loss of Dr. Randall “Randy” Capps, the founder of the Department of Communications. Capps passed away on Feb. 2 at the age of 85.

According to an email sent from the State Street United Methodist Church, Capps had a heart attack and died suddenly while at work. He is survived by his daughter Jill.

Randy served in many capacities at State Street and throughout the KY Methodist Church,” the email by Lee Young, minister of music, worship and congregational care, stated. “Many of you have worked closely with him over the years and developed amazing friendships. You are in my prayers as you remember special times together.  May you find comfort in a life well lived.”

Randall Capps began his career at WKU in 1962 as an instructor in the English Department.

After helping Russell Miller with speech and theatre classes, Capps was asked by Raymond Cravens to teach speech classes and manage the forensics program.

The collaboration between Capps and Miller led to the first speech-related majors at WKU.

Due to his love for theater and speech, he founded the Department of Speech and Theatre in 1968, which was later renamed to the Department of Communication.

Capps served as department head for nearly 20 years and became the longest serving head in the department’s history. 

Capp was described as “…the Department of Communication’s equivalent to Henry Hardin Cherry,” Professor Emeritus Larry Winn said.

His hard work as head of the department and striving for excellence won the department many awards, including the University Research Award.

“Randy Capps is a legend at WKU and in the Department of Communication,” Helen Sterk, professor and former department head, said. “Always, he navigated a through-line of excellence, including community involvement, leadership development and service to the university.”

In 1994, Capps moved to the Gordon Ford College of Business, where he served on the Business Advisory Council and as a professor. He later founded his company, Leadership Strategies Group, the same year.

“Dr. Capps has left a lasting impact on the Gordon Ford College of Business,” Chris Shook, dean of the college, said. “Dr. Capps had a strong commitment to students. He spent countless hours in and out of the classroom helping students learn networking skills and introducing them to members of the business community. Dr. Capps made everyone feel important.”

Capps also helped create the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program in addition to his tireless work in both the Potter College of Arts and Letters and the Gordon Ford College of Business.

“Dr. Capps was a beloved faculty member,” Nick Brake, director of the Ed.D. Program, said in a WKU News release. “We are forever indebted to his leadership and vision for our program. He will be missed.”

News Reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @michael_crimm