Obituary- Beloved ‘CSI professor’ passes away

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Michael Joyce poses with Criminal Justice students. (Image courtesy of: Lisa Joyce)
Michael Joyce poses with Criminal Justice students. (Image courtesy of: Lisa Joyce)

Edith Noriega | Staff Writer

His students and staff will forever remember Michael D. Joyce, homicide detective by day, “CSI professor” by night at Riverside City College.

Michael D. Joyce passed away Feb. 10 at the age of 69. He is survived by the love of his life, his wife, Lisa, children Kelly and Michael Jr. along with six grandchildren.

Joyce was born in Long Beach, Calif. and was a resident of Lake Arrowhead. By age 19 he was married with a child. He was always determined to make something of himself and be successful, being that he had a difficult childhood.

He lived in Saudi Arabia as a young teen and worked in the oil industry. When he returned to the United States, he attended RCC and took his first Administration of Justice class.

“He was immediately hooked,” said his wife Lisa Joyce.

He graduated from RCC in 1964, later joined the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and went from being a deputy to homicide detective. In 1981, he was promoted to the Riverside County District Attorney Office Bureau of Investigation and was again promoted to Assistant Chief Investigator, where he remained until his retirement in 1996.

Dr. Oliver Thompson, who is now an Administration of Justice professor at RCC, worked with Joyce for more than 30 years as a young deputy in 1965 for Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

“Mike was a real caring, concerned, compassionate individual, who was never willing to believe that somebody could not succeed,” Thompson said. “He believed that there was success in all of his students. (He was) one of the real good guys and a person who will definitely be missed in the Administration of Justice program here at RCC.”

Joyce was also a part-time instructor at RCC, where he taught Administration of Justice for more than 34 years.

Agnieszka Podgorska, a former student of Joyce, came to the United States in 2008 from Zielona Gora, Poland right after finishing high school. In her second semester at RCC she stumbled into one of his classes by accident.

“It was fall, I was so sick I had the worst flu of my life, but I didn’t want to miss the first class,” Podgorska said. “I was late so I just sat in the back. Toward the end of the class he showed us guns. I walked up to him and asked him why are you showing us guns in a sociology class. He always called me sweetheart ever since, and he says, ‘But sweetheart this is not a sociology class, this is criminal justice.’”

Podgorska was the first student at RCC certified in Joyce’s Investigative Assistance Program where she was able to get into the DA office and become an intern with the Bureau of Investigation for two years.

She and Joyce started a Crime Victim Advocate program, where they advocated for psychological aid to help criminals with rehabilitation.

“Since the very first time I met him, he was very supportive he was so kind in his heart and so understanding,” Podgorska said. “He would always try to teach me patience and was very kind to people.”

Among Joyce’s many accomplishments was an Officer of the Year Award in 1980 with the Riverside Sheriff’s Department.

In 2013, he received The Glenn Hunt Outstanding Associate Faculty Service Award for exceptional service. In addition, he created and was the director of the “Criminalistics Learning Laboratory” at RCC for students to actively participate and challenge themselves in the study of Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation.

“He not only influenced our students here at the college who are going into law enforcement or detective work, he also influenced those that he had arrested all very positively,” said Jan Schall, a longtime professor at RCC.

2 thoughts on “Obituary- Beloved ‘CSI professor’ passes away

  1. He was a great man and an even better professor. He made you hungry to learn more about the subject. I’ll never forget his simulated crime scene projects.

    I wonder how many people sitting in the Quad wondered what the heck was going with people getting searched.

    He helped the world become a better place by getting so many people into the law enforcement field. Just imagine how many students he inspired in his 34 years at RCC.

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