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From teaching to farming: the retirement of Annie-Laurie Blair

Professor Profile

Throughout her 19 years at Miami, Annie-Laurie Blair served as professor, student organization advisor and program director in MJF.
Throughout her 19 years at Miami, Annie-Laurie Blair served as professor, student organization advisor and program director in MJF.

When Bridget Vis, a 2013 Miami alumna, did not attend a staff meeting for Miami University’s student publication GreenHawks Media, journalism and environmental science professor Annie-Laurie Blair knew something was wrong.

Blair learned Vis was at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital.

“I came back from some procedure. I was still super groggy, and I’m opening my eyes,” Vis said. “I can still see it clear as day. There’s Annie sitting there … and so the fact that she cared enough about me to come to the hospital to check in-person if I was OK meant the world to me.” 

After working at Miami since 2004, Blair is retiring from teaching.

While finishing her bachelor’s degrees in news writing and political science from the University of Missouri, Blair worked as a correspondent reporter for the Kansas City Times, now known as the Kansas City Star, for four months.

But Blair turned down a reporting position in Manhattan, Kansas, following graduation. Instead, she joined the army.

“I lived in Japan, lived in Korea [and] served with the 101st Airborne Division,” Blair said. “I earned my wings, my Air Assault Wings … I was the first woman that the 101st Airborne Division ever let graduate from … the sniper school.”

Blair worked as a military intelligence analyst for four years with the army, then as a military intelligence technical writer for Boeing Aerospace for one year before applying to graduate school.

At Boston University, Blair earned her master’s in journalism. She worked for various news outlets, including the Ithaca Journal, Star-Gazette, Cincy Magazine, Dayton Daily News and Cincinnati Enquirer.

Bruce Drushel, a professor in the media, journalism, and film department, said Blair is dutifully committed to her involvement as a professor.

“She also has been very active with graduate education here on campus, not just undergraduate [education],” Drushel said. “That’s, I think, an example of where she has kind of been willing to extend herself … to do things that are beyond what are really expected.”

Blair is well-known for her role as director of Miami’s Inside Washington program and her advising positions in the student publications UP Magazine and GreenHawks Media.

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She’s connected many students with internships, especially through the Inside Washington program. Morgan Schneider, a senior journalism and environmental science major, recounted that Blair helped her get two internships, one of which was for the Inside Washington program through a personal connection of Blair’s. 

Schneider was the only journalism major in the program and felt that if it had been run by a professor from another department, they might not have had the same set of connections that fit so well with her majors.

“I would have been kind of overlooked,” Schneider said.

On campus, Schneider said that Blair’s previous work in environmental communications helped create a space for students like her to blend science and communication together.

Blair now plans to work in environmental education and teach children in urban areas about growing and cooking food. She and her husband own 65 acres of land in upstate New York and hope to farm it one day.

“I feel like I’m young,” Blair said, “and I want to do some other good stuff.”