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I received this email today from Prof. Sandra Haggerty, who is retiring after more than three decades of service to the JSchool. I thought the email was worth sharing with you, and thankfully, Prof. Haggerty agreed to let me post it here.

My 37 years (31 of them at Ohio University) in journalism education have been an adventure. I have worked with hundreds of students and scores of faculty members.

Under the banner of the Scripps School of Journalism, I have traveled to China, Africa, South America, Central America and Russia (the former Soviet Union). Observing the status of the press in different countries (some democratic, some not) has always given me a greater appreciation of our press freedom and the need to continue to fight for this freedom. I never want our students to take this freedom for granted.

State side, one of my concerns was (and still is) high school drop-out rates, which are aggravated by youth involvement in gangs. To address this social issue, journalism colleagues and I launched a project designed for youngsters at-risk for joining gangs. The goal of the project was to use media to help young people gain status with their peers without turning to bullying and other forms of violence.

These newly-minted reporters were surprised at the positive acceptance their newspapers and broadcasts received. They began to appreciate the power of information and the importance of gaining this power through staying in school and going to college. This demonstration project was funded by a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services. At the time, it was the largest grant the College of Communication had received.

A more recent involvement has been “Project South Africa: Journalism and Social Issues.” Working in concert with Hugh Culbertson (the TRC in South Africa) and Bojinka Bishop (authentic communication rsearch), I traveled to South Africa and consulted with local people on ways to empower the media, increase literacy and encourage public participation in the democratic process. I hope our School continues this collaboration with South Africa. (Were I up to it, I would be in Cape Town this summer, with young reporters in tow, for the World Cup.)

Last year I worked with Vibert Cambridge and Mary Rogus on a media and academic collaboration with the University of Guyana. Another great project!

Over the years, I have enjoyed teaching a variety of media writing courses. Sports writing has been a favorite. Boxers Muhammad Ali (The Greatest), George Foreman (The Gentle Giant) and Joe Louis (The Brown Bomber) are among my high-visibility interviewees. Most students know who Ali is, but mention Joe Louis, and you really date yourself in today’s class room! Mention George Foreman, and students know him as the pitchman for a handy-dandy cooking Grill! Ah, time for my sports writing swan song.

Moving from boxing to track, I now pass the press “baton” off to the younger generations of journalism educators and students.

It has been a good ride. I wish my colleagues and the School continued success.

May 24, 2010

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