MU welcomes renowned writer, reporter to faculty
Since graduating from Miami in 1976, Wil Haygood has kept himself busy. He has interviewed a Liberian dictator by candlelight in his powerless apartment and he has feigned medical expertise to buy himself time after Somali rebels took him hostage. From Africa to the front page of the Washington Post and a Hollywood movie set, Haygood's career as a writer and journalist has taken him all around the world-but soon, it will bring him back to Oxford.
He has agreed to join Miami's teaching faculty for three years beginning January 2015 in the department of Media, Journalism and Film (MJF), teaching upper-level non-fiction writing classes and film classes one semester each year.
Chair of the MJF department Richard Campbell said he first got the idea to woo the alumnus to join his faculty when he met him on his visit to campus last fall.
"I loved his energy, his interactions with students," Campbell said. "He was going through a really interesting change in his life-to have him here at this heightened creative period to share with students would be great, I thought."
Rick Momeyer, a retired faculty member and a mentor to Haygood, further convinced Campbell he should reach out to him about the possibility of recruiting him to teach. Campbell got his chance at a private dinner at President David Hodge's house last fall.
Haygood showed immediate interest. Since his front-page Washington Post feature article was adapted to an award-winning Hollywood film in August, he has found himself at somewhat of a turning point in his career, and Campbell's proposition intrigued him.
"My career has crisscrossed various genres-journalism, biography and now film, and it just seems a good time to share some of the experiences," Haygood said, "to share these years of traveling the world, after writing about some cataclysmic events-war, famine, world leaders, dictators and the arts."
Campbell said he thinks Haygood's current career position makes him an ideal fit for the new media, journalism and film department.
"He represents in some ways our whole department, both print and film," Campbell said. "I've seen him with students and I think he's got a lot to share with them. This is a transition phase for him and what better place to do it than at his alma mater?"
Haygood will begin his teaching arrangement at Miami as a Karl and Helen Wiepking Visiting Distinguished Professor for the 2014-15 academic year, and will hold the position of Distinguished Scholar in the two subsequent years. Because his arrangement with the university will allow him to take every other semester off, Haygood will retain a great amount of flexibility amidst his new teaching duties.
But Haygood said what drew him to Miami was not the distinguished professorship or the flexible work schedule but rather the possibility of investing in future journalists.
"I want to inspire students with the beauty of the craft of journalism and the muscle it takes to hone that craft," Haygood said. "It's about wanting to spread the gospel about storytelling, which I love."
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