For Dr. Joe Cardot, teaching has always been about the students.
“I love the classroom,” Cardot said. “I love being able to touch as many [student] lives as possible.”
Cardot has been teaching in the Department of Communication for 30 years and has served as chair of the department for 20 of those years. He has seen four ACU presidents and watched the university undergo what he calls a “major transformation.”
“In my time here I’ve seen the university grow and expand,” Cardot said. “ACU has gone from having a regional focus to having a truly national reach.”
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Harding University in 1976 and a master’s degree in communication theory from Western Kentucky University in 1980. In 1990 he earned a doctorate in instructional communication from Texas Tech University.
Even though he is not an ACU alumnus, Cardot said he felt right at home from the moment he set foot on the Hill.
“Originally I was only supposed to be here one year,” Cardot said. “But when the opportunity to stay came up, my wife and I knew we were in the right place. We’ve never regretted it.
Cardot was hired in 1980 as a professor and as the university’s new speech and debate coach, a role he held until becoming chair of the department in 1990. During his years in the department, Cardot has also served as Director of Institutional Research and Director of Institutional Effectiveness.
Dr. Carley Dodd, professor of communication and dean of the graduate school, served as chair of the Department of Communication before Cardot from 1987-91. Dodd said Cardot has flourished in his role as chair of the department because of his ability to always be available to his students.
“His door is always open,” Dodd said. “He is one of the most accessible people in a leadership role I’ve ever seen. He is always friendly and always welcome. If you ever walk by there his door really is always open figuratively and literally.”
Dodd said Cardot has also managed to find a way to connect with his faculty that makes them feel like they have the flexibility to teach the best they can.
“He’s always been very supportive of his faculty and really encourages them to find their place,” Dodd said. “He encourages them in their teaching, research and development. He’s got a mix of not over-controlling and not under-controlling.”
Even with his success in academia, Dodd said Cardot’s character is evident outside the classroom. Cardot has hosted the Texas Christian School’s Literary Meet on campus for 22 years, bringing hundreds of students to the university, Dodd said.
“He’s not paid for the literary meet, and it takes hundreds of hours of preparation – it’s an incredible service,” Dodd said. “He has done that every year without complaint.”
Cardot was also the chair of the benevolence committee at the South 11th and Willis Church of Christ for many years, Dodd said. The role put Cardot in charge of the church’s ministry to the needy.
Dr. Paul Lakey, professor of communication since 1999, said Cardot has had a great effect on the department and the university as a whole.
“He has had a tremendous impact in terms of a servant heart, technological innovations and maximizing our department’s resources,” Lakey said. “On the university level he has provided wisdom and stability as we have undergone major changes.”
Lakey said Cardot’s 30 years at ACU have been filled with strong academia and a firm commitment to people. He said the one word to best describe Cardot is “servant.”
“Joe is a friend of friends,” Lakey said. “He’s a giant encourager. When someone hurts, Joe is there. When people need a partner, Joe is there. He would bend over backwards to help someone. Anybody that knows Joe knows he is a people-encourager.”