In memoriam: Dr. Joseph Kemker

Dr. Kemker performing hearing test
Dr. Joseph Kemker tests the hearing of a Gainesville infant in this circa 2000 photo.

College of Public Health and Health Professions Professor Emeritus Joseph Kemker, Ph.D., passed away June 12.

Throughout his 26-year tenure as UF’s chief audiologist and a professor in the department of communicative disorders (now speech, language, and hearing sciences), Dr. Kemker played a significant role in the advancement of new therapies for people with hearing impairments.

In the mid-1980s, he was a part of a three-member UF team that participated in a multicenter clinical trial that demonstrated the effectiveness of cochlear implants and paved the way to their common usage as a treatment for select hearing impairments. Dr. Kemker described the first cochlear implant performed by the team in a 2017 video interview.

Dr. Kemker also led UF’s efforts in a pilot study on hearing screening for at-risk infants, and he was an outspoken advocate for state legislation to fund the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening program, which became Florida law in 2000.

A Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Dr. Kemker received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the organization in 2000.

“Dr. Kemker was compassionate clinician, a wise mentor, and kind colleague whose professional expertise, tireless dedication, and kindly demeanor greatly benefitted the lives of patients, students, faculty, and staff,” said Michael G. Perri, Ph.D., dean of the college.

A service honoring Dr. Kemker will be held Tuesday, July 27 at 10 a.m. at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gainesville. More information