Carducci, iconic psychology professor, dies

As we learn more as the week progresses, we’ll publish updates. In the meantime, we republish this profile of Bernie Carducci we wrote in September 2017 on the announcement of his retirement.


Dustin Kiefer

“The reason I wear Hawaiian shirts is because back in California that’s all we would wear, Hawaiian shirt or T-shirt,” Carducci said.

Editors’ note: Bernie Carducci’s visitation will be held on Thursday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kraft Funeral Service, 2776 Charlestown Road, New Albany. His Funeral Mass will be 10 a.m. Friday at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church with burial to follow in Kraft-Graceland Memorial Park, New Albany. The late emeritus professor of psychology died on Saturday, Sept. 22. You can read his obituary here. We republished our profile on Carducci from September 2017, upon the announcement of his retirement.

Colorful, outgoing, bigger than life and one of a kind. These are all ways that former students and colleagues describe Bernardo “Bernie” Carducci, an IU Southeast psychology professor of 37 years who announced his retirement this summer.

During his time at IU Southeast, Carducci has made an impact on and off campus. He has published books, developed an international reputation and helped students become successful in
their careers.

Perhaps his greatest achievement at IU Southeast was when he founded the Shyness Research Institute in 1997. What started as little more than a mailbox soon became a foundation for shyness research, serving as a resource for national and international news organizations such as Vogue, Huffington Post, and The Washington Post.

Carducci said his interest in shyness began when he was a kid and read an article in Psychology Today that explained shyness and how to overcome it. He recalled thinking, “Oh, my God, this is me.” After that, whenever he had an opportunity to do research in high school and in college, he would always choose shyness as his topic, he said, and his research continued when he came to IU Southeast.

Carducci said it wasn’t his plan to come to IU Southeast, but he believes he is a better person for coming here. Originally, he wanted to find work in California — where he grew up — but a competitive job market left him with few options. He said he was drawn to IU Southeast because many of its students were the first in their families to attend college. And because there were no residency halls at the time, all of the students were commuters who likely worked part-time or full-time jobs. That mirrored Carducci’s college experience, he said.

“I knew right away that this was going to be a good fit for me. And it’s been a phenomenal fit — better than I ever imagined.”

In his nearly 40 years at IU Southeast, Carducci said, the school has grown and changed a lot, but it has kept its focus on students. He said he often tells students, “IUS is the best educational value for your dollar within a radius of 50 miles.”

One of the examples he gave for this was the Introduction to Psychology course, which he has taught throughout his time at IU Southeast.

“New students had the opportunity to get an intro class taught by a senior tenured professor,” he said. “You just don’t get that anywhere else.”

“I’ve been able to teach Introductory Psychology every year for 37 years. Every Fall semester for almost 37 years is that at 8 o’clock I’d be in my office and at 9:15 I’d be in Hillside 104,” Carducci said. “That was the oddest feeling this year was not to be in Hillside 104.”

Justin Miller came to IU Southeast in 2009 and graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He said Carducci’s psychology 101 course changed his life.

“He was introducing himself and talking about all of his accomplishments: leading researcher in shyness, tenure at IUS, books published,” Miller said. “I was thinking, ‘this was exactly what I want to be.’ ”

It was during that course, Miller said, that he decided he wanted a become a psychology professor, a goal which Carducci has helped him achieve ever since. Miller is currently working on his Ph.D at Southern Illinois University.

Carducci’s helpfulness is a common theme among former students and colleagues interviewed for this article.

Samantha Escobar, a non-traditional student who was enrolled in Carducci’s psychology 101 class in Fall 2016, said: “He took a genuine interest in getting to know the students and helping them if they were interested in pursuing psych. He gave me the opportunity to publish my first paper with no background in psychology.”

Cliff Staten, professor of political science and international studies, and James Kauffman, professor of communication studies, both said they were mentored by Carducci when they began their careers at IU Southeast 28 years ago.

“[He] goes out of his way to help students and faculty members,” Staten said.
And the admiration goes both ways. Carducci said he’s been able to do everything he ever wanted to do as a professor and more since coming to IU Southeast.

“It’s allowed me to be a complete person. If you go to some of these bigger universities where the focus is on research, that’s all you have,” he said. “That’s not the case here at IUS. They really encouraged me and allowed me to be a complete individual. As an academic, a teacher and a community citizen.”

Carducci said the hardest thing about retiring is stepping away from the classroom. But he is happy that he won’t disengage completely from IU Southeast; he’ll stay on campus to continue work with the Shyness Research Institute.

“I’m sad because, for me, he’s sort of the institution,” Kauffman said. “Not only was he here when I got here, but he was very generous and outgoing. And even though he was in a different school, he was very good in including me.”

Carducci will take with him many memories: creating the psychology club in 1986 and hosting its first dance, being Santa Claus for many years when the school would hang garland in the Hoosier Room, walking to the IUS Lake from his house with his daughter when she was five or six and catching bluegill.

“I’m grateful to the students I’ve had,” Carducci said. “I thank the staff, the people who cleaned [The Shyness Research Institute], the people who copy stuff for me, the people who get stuff in the library for me, the people who keep the grounds beautiful so it’s pleasant to come.”