Richard Kocher made extraordinary contributions to the English Department in his 45-year career as chair and leader, scholar and mentor, teacher and adviser. He began as a student at then-Loyola University in 1951. For 10 years after he graduated with a degree in English, he flew bombers for the Strategic Air Command, negotiated aerospace contracts, and worked on his master’s degree and Ph.D. in English at USC. He joined the faculty of Loyola in 1966, and worked at LMU until his retirement in 2010. He was given emeritus status in 2011 and elected into the Faculty Hall of Fame in 2017.
He taught English and American literature, specializing in the Romantics, and earned a dedicated student following throughout the years. Professor Kocher’s commitment to “the education of the whole person” can also be seen in the many kinds of advisement in which he was engaged. He helped to enrich the educational and cultural experience of our students by serving as an academic adviser (more than 40 years); an adviser to international students (3 years); and as a moderator of the LMU English Society (12 years), the Del Rey Players drama group (8 years), and El Grupo Folklorico (20 years). He also served on many university committees, including the Academic Budget Committee and the Grievance Committee, and the Facilities Committee.
Beyond any list of courses taught or positions filled, however, there was an underlying pattern that emerges: a commitment to each of the students — to be rigorous and demanding, but also to help each student to develop the skills necessary to succeed. The commitment to teaching, to service, and to mission described so eloquently in alumnus Mike Rose’s prize-winning book “Lives on the Boundary” was “writ large” in the career of Richard Kocher.
Kocher was born in Indiana and grew up in the San Diego area, where he graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1951. He passed away in January 2018.