Diane Oaks Casagrande, 72, a communication studies teacher at West Chester University from 1968 until she retired in 2001, died of ovarian cancer on Saturday, May 22, at her home in Tredyffrin.

Born in Detroit, she graduated from Pershing High School there in 1955 and earned a bachelor's degree in oral communication at Wayne State University in 1959. At Wayne State, said her husband, Roger, she won a national women's oratory championship in 1957.

She earned a master's degree in 1969 and a doctorate in communication sciences in 1978, both at Temple University.

Dr. Casagrande joined West Chester University in 1968 as an instructor and retired in 2001 as a full professor.

Her husband said that she was a founder of the graduate program in West Chester's Department of Communication Studies and its first graduate coordinator. She was her department's representative on the faculty union.

In the 2009-2010 academic year, she was a member of the board of trustees of the West Chester University Foundation, a fund-raising body.

In 2001, she and her husband set up the annual Casagrande Scholarship to help pay tuition for a communication or pre-engineering student.

Dr. Casagrande and her husband were the authors of Oral Communication in Technical Professions and Businesses, from Wadsworth Publishing in 1986. She served on such college committees as faculty search and faculty evaluation and worked with the debate team and the forensics team, among others.

At Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, she was a choir member and Scripture reader.

Besides her husband of 50 years, Dr. Casagrande is survived by her father, Edmund; sons Bradley and Jeffrey; a daughter, Kimberly Casagrande; two brothers; and seven grandchildren.

A Funeral Mass was set for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 26, at Daylesford Abbey, 220 S. Valley Rd., Paoli.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.