Richard Carmichael is a math professor and alumnus of Wake Forest. In 1962, Carmichael played on the men’s basketball team that reached the Final Four and in 1971, he returned to teach at his alma mater.
For over four decades, he has been a constant presence in both the math department and the athletic department.
What position did you play during your time at Wake Forest University?
On the basketball team, I was a forward. I entered as a freshman in September of 1960, and I was here until 1964.
In those days you didn’t have all of these special categories, you were either a guard, a forward or a center.
Why did you decide to return to your alma mater?
I returned to Wake Forest University in September of 1971. I actually had the notion to return to Wake to teach early on in my career.
I decided my sophomore year that I wanted to go to graduate school and during my junior or senior year, I thought it would be nice to come back.
How has Wake Forest changed since you were here as a student-athlete?
When I entered, there were approximately 1,900 undergraduate students. There was a small law school and a medical school. There was not a graduate school of business, nor a divinity school.
The number of buildings on this campus were far less than half the number now. As far as students go, there were far less women than men.
The women were housed in Bostwick and Johnson, and the men lived on the quad. Another change over time was when I was a student, we had to go to chapel twice a week.
All 1,900 undergraduates gathered on the main floor together, and it was viewed as a pain by the majority of the students. In retrospect, I thought it was a really good idea because the whole student body did something together every week, and I think that is a really nice concept.
How has your view of education changed after transitioning from a student athlete to a professor?
Well, I don’t think it has really. I was always a highly motivated student who knew what I was here for.
I worked hard, studied hard and always wanted to do the best that I could do. That was true of my academics as a student and is still my view of academics.
Are you still involved in athletics at Wake Forest?
Yes, I help keep statistics at the football and men’s basketball games, which I have done since the 1980s.
It’s very enjoyable to me because I would much rather have something to do than just sit and try to watch a ballgame.
Secondly, for the past 13 years, I have been the Faculty Athletics Representative, a position in which you represent Wake Forest to the ACC and if needed, to the NCAA.
In this position, I am also the leader in the determination of eligibility for student-athletes.
What is your best memory of your time at Wake Forest?
As a student, the most rewarding thing was that I was elected to the Student Honor Council three times.
In my student days, the Student Honor Council was the judicial system. Any case of academic fraud or misbehavior came before those of us on the council. Being an elected member for three years was the most meaningful happening in my time as a student at Wake Forest University.
As a faculty member, the most meaningful thing was being chair of my department for 16 years because you’re able to really make a contribution to your colleagues and to the university.
How do you spend your free time?
I enjoy exercise. A highlight of my day is to go to Reynolds Gym, where I practiced as a student. I walk and I lift weights. I always do that at midday because it is a good break and charges my brain so that I don’t get sleepy in the afternoon. I also very much enjoy singing in my church choir.
What is your favorite thing about being a Demon Deacon?
I like the fact that we are as competitive overall as anybody, and that we do it in spite of our smallness and with regard to academics furthermost in our minds. That’s what I like about Wake Forest.