Professor retires after over half a century at WKU

Kelly Dean met up with him, on his last day as a psychology professor
Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 5:47 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - A Western Kentucky University professor hung up his hat Tuesday after teaching 51 years at the university.

“I knew right away that in my first semester here, this is where I belong,” said Dr. Joseph Cangemi, retiring Emeritus Professor of Psychology at WKU. “51 years later, I’m saying goodbye.”

Dr. Joseph Cangemi has left an impact on young minds since 1968 at WKU.

“Extending [the] hand of a professor who can help them who can encourage them who can tell them, they are worth something. They’re worth something,” said Dr. Cangemi about his teaching method.

Meanwhile, he never imagined he would teach his last semester through a computer, but still managed to reach 50 students in his course Psychology of Sales Behavior.

“Through Zoom, I really felt that I was closer to my students. When I was looking at you, and you were looking at me, it was, it was better than I had ever imagined,” he said.

Dr. Cangemi is an award-winning professor that went beyond just teaching from a textbook.

“He definitely gave me something I hadn’t had in other psychology classes,” said Caitlin Delph, senior at WKU in his class. “And he was like, ‘it’s gonna be okay, you’re gonna struggle, but it’s fine.’ And he gave me like that sense of support that I needed.”

Evidence of his impactful teaching was seen Tuesday as students filled his office with kind words, gifts and laughter.

“A teacher never knows where all of this ends up. You never know how people are capturing what you’re saying, but it’s really refreshing to find that some students really got a lot more out of it than I would have expected,” Dr. Cangemi said.

While Dr. Cangemi’s spent over half a century molding minds, its clear that he too, changed hearts for the better, as he read out loud a card from his class.

‘We would like to thank you for all your life advice, encouragement and motivation. Congrats on your retirement. You have changed the lives of many. We love you.’ - 2020 class of Psychology Sales Behavior.

“Wow, I don’t know what to say-- I’m absolutely touched,” responded a teary-eyed Dr. Cangemi.

The professor has written 21 books and published over 300 articles.

Dr. Cangemi has received the following accolades:

- Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence (3 times)

- Faculty Award for Research and Creativity

- Excellence Award for Public Service

-Faculty Award for Volunteer of the Year

WKU Awards:

- Unversity-wide Public Service Award

-WKU Nominee for Carnegie Foundation

Professor of the year National Award (One of two from WKU)

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