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Dr. Joan Francis Hays

Dr. Joan Francis Hays, 81, passed away on April 4, 2020 in New Braunfels, Tx.

Born in Grand Junction, Colorado, Joan was the daughter of Elberta and Murl Francis.  She graduated from Grand Junction High School, and went on to earn a B.S in Dance at The University of Utah, a M.S. in Dance at the University of Wisconsin, and her Doctorate in Physical Education at the University of Texas. Austin.

Dr. Hays taught at Central Michigan University from 1961-63, the University of Wisconsin from 1963-64, and at Southwest Texas State University/Texas State University from 1964-2003. She was named Distinguished Professor of Dance Emeritus in 2007 in recognition of her exemplary dedication to the development and growth of the Dance Program at Texas State, and her extraordinary service to the University. 

Dr. Joan Hays headshot
Dr. Hays with Erick Hawkins

During her 39 years at Texas State, Dr. Hays developed the Dance Program, achieved Texas Education Agency certification, and prepared 18 courses, many of which are still taught today. She was the chair or member of 69 committees, including serving as Chair of the Faculty Senate from 1999-2001.  In 1998 Dr. Hays obtained approval for a Bachelor of Science Degree with a Dance Major.  Mentoring more than 2,000 undergraduate students she earned the affection and respect of students, and colleagues, many of whom she mentored in pedagogy and research.

 A strong advocate of the Erick Hawkins Dance Technique, Dr. Hays was awarded a $14,000 National Dance Association Touring Grant for his dance company in 1978.  Her book, Modern Dance: a biomechanical approach to teaching, was sanctioned by Mr. Hawkins, and continues in use today. Her prolific scholarly and creative efforts led to her being named a Presidential Seminar Honoree in March, 1983. 

Between 1965 and 2002, Dr. Hays presented over 37 invited papers and lectures, and choreographed and/or performed in over 100 dances.  Her brilliance as an educator was noted with 4 Faculty Senate Teaching Awards. As a long-time member of the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (TAHPERD) Joan was named a TAHPERD Scholar for 1986-87, College Dance Educator of the Year in 1995, and was the Inaugural Recipient of the Dance Heritage Award in 2012. She was also named to the Hall of Fame for the Texas Dance Educators Association in 2002.

Joan was a lifelong Christian and her faith guided her both personally and professionally. She was an active member of her church.  Although there will not be a service at this time, a Celebration of Life will be held in October 2020.  Information will be posted on the Texas State University Dance page as soon as arrangements are finalized.

Joan Hays is survived by daughter Cassandra Hays,  beloved grandsons Hayden W. Wilhelm, Dawson R. Heintz, and Reed “Charlie” Heintz, and brother Jack Francis.  She was preceded in death by her parents, and her husband Dr. Al Hays, to whom she was married for 49 years.

It is with gratitude that we thank Gay James, Joan’s best friend and caregiver for ensuring the highest level of compassionate care. In her final years, Joan was also cared for by Alicia Pimental, Veronica Bellinghiere, and Kaytlin Sandoval who noted that Joan will forever hold a special place in their hearts. 

Memorial donations may be made in lieu of flowers to: 

Joan Hays Dance Endowment (please visit the link below or checks are payable to: Texas State University)               

Dance Division 

Michelle Nance                                                                             

601 University Drive                                                                     

Texas State University

San Marcos, TX 78666


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