RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A beloved English professor at Virginia Commonwealth University — Bryant Mangum — recently announced his retirement from teaching after a 50-year stint in the position.
“I think that I just felt like 50 years was a good time,” Mangum said.
The professor has always had a passion for literature. He found himself particularly enthralled with the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the New Yorker magazine. Mangum told 8News he adored sharing this joy with students. When asked about the most notable highlights in his career, the professor answered, in earnest, that helping kids cultivate their education made the top of the list.
“Many of the highlights are ones that occurred in class, when I would see lights go on in students’ eyes,” Mangum said.
One of Mangum’s former students, Aíne Norris, has maintained correspondence with the professor for about 15 years. She took her first class with him in 2007. Norris mentioned the impact the professor managed to have in her life ever since they met. He’s written her recommendation letters, given academic advice and championed her vocational endeavors from the start.
“He’s a life-changing professor,” Norris said. “Every single student I’ve ever talked to who’s taken a class with Dr. Mangum uses that phrase — it’s so funny, everyone says, ‘he changed my life.'”
After graduating from the University of North Carolina, Mangum earned his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1975. The English professor recounted a serendipitous launch to his career at VCU, one that began amid his studies, prior to his graduation from the University of South Carolina.
Ever since he began teaching at VCU, Mangum said he’s wanted to spark a passion for literature in his students.
“What I would hope for is that students in my class will have made a connection with the works that really had an impact on their lives,” Mangum said.
The multitude of steps that ultimately sculpted Mangum’s career led him to where he is today — celebrating 50 years of service to VCU and it’s students. He told 8News he’s never looked back at his decision to grow and develop his teaching at VCU. Despite being pursued to teach at other schools, Mangum said that, in his heart, he always knew leaving VCU was never a consideration.
“I look back on that,” Mangum said, adding, “I feel extremely lucky to have come to VCU.”
Even retirement can’t keep him out of the classroom forever. Mangum said even though his time as a formal professor at VCU has come to an end, he doesn’t plan to ever stop teaching and learning.