Southeast Community Memorializes Professor Paul Madlock

Nov 26, 2020

Associate Professor of Communications Paul Madlock touched the lives of many in his four years teaching at Southeast and created a legacy that will live on for years to come.

Madlock, 56, died Friday, Nov. 13, “at home surrounded by his family,” according to the obituary written by his family.

During his time at Southeast, Madlock developed approximately 20 academic courses and was heavily involved with students in the McNair Scholarship Program. He published a substantial amount of research, and more often than not, invited students to collaborate on these publications and gain the experience of being co-authors.

Instructor and Director of Health Communication Brooke Clubbs said the Department of Communication Studies and Modern Languages has been approved to create the Paul Madlock Excellence in Research Award.

“He hadn’t been here that long, but he quickly became a pillar of our department,” Clubbs said.

The department is still working on what the requirements for the award will be, Clubbs said, but she knows it will be granted in the spring semester to two graduating seniors in communication who have demonstrated an interest in scholarship. Clubbs said the award should be available beginning in Spring 2021.

“[Students] develop such a significant relationship with faculty, and there are people in our lives who will be a part of us forever because of the things that they helped us learn and the guidance that they provided and the support they offered, and I know that Dr. Madlock did that for so many students and even faculty members here,” said Lesli Pace, chairperson and associate professor of communication studies and modern languages.

Those who knew Madlock described him as being “genuine and honest” and a “quick-wit who was always happy to crack a joke and make things light-hearted.”

As a professor, Madlock was described as being “fun, unique and nontraditional,” and it wasn’t just because he wore a tropical shirt or football jersey to class almost every day. Students who had Madlock in class said he would do a lot of icebreakers or activities, oftentimes involving music and dancing.

“In the first couple weeks of class, he started talking about how we were going to have to make up these songs and do these dances in front of the class, and I was freaking out,” Southeast alum Eli Bohnert said. “But after we got in our groups and got that first song or dance over with, it was honestly insane — the class felt so bonded and so comfortable with each other, it was like there was a sense of community within the class.”

Clubbs said she was office neighbors with Madlock and worked with him on a couple of research articles and publications beginning in 2018. One thing she admired about him was his collegiality, and she plans to channel that mindset moving forward.

“Paul’s loss made me realize just how much a part of your life these folks are and how infrequently you express that to them — how much you value them and what they mean to you,” Clubbs said. “So, it’s been a reminder to me that no matter how corny or silly it might seem, I’m going to be more intentional about telling my colleagues that I appreciate them.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Communication Studies and Modern Languages held a virtual remembrance for Madlock over Zoom on Friday, Nov. 20. Pace said the department also sent a card to the family, and many students came in to sign it.

The virtual remembrance was limited to past and current students of Madlock, Pace said, as well as faculty members in the Department of Communication Studies and Modern Languages or those who worked closely with him during his time at Southeast.

“[The remembrance] was a chance for majors in our department and our faculty to share memories that they have about him, and I think we needed that chance to process it,” Pace said. “During the pandemic, we haven’t had the opportunity to have memorial services or funerals the way you normally would, and to not have that moment to really process the loss and the grief is such a sacrifice.”

Students who couldn’t attend the remembrance or make it in to sign the card sent Pace emails expressing their sorrow and “gratitude for all that he had done as their teacher and advisor.”

Clubbs said the death of a professor or colleague is difficult because the relationship between colleagues and the relationship between a student and professor are both “unique and special.”

“There’s a lot of guidance on how to grieve the loss of a grandparent or a parent, or even a pet, but there’s really not a lot of guidance for dealing with the loss of your colleague or your teacher,” Clubbs said. “I hope that our students are getting any counseling that they might need or that they are able to talk to somebody and not feel weird about mourning the loss of their teacher, because that’s a very legitimate type of grief.”

For more information or to book an appointment with the Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility, visit https://semo.edu/ucs/ or call (573) 986-6191.

Madlock’s family created a “Life Tributes” page for people to write messages and share memories of Paul at https://www.crainsonline.com/obituaries/Paul-Madlock/.

The Southeast Arrow is a contributing partner with KRCU Public Radio.