It’s tough to be a journalist: gathering information, editing articles for hours and spending late nights in the office. It’s even tougher to become a journalist when your school doesn’t offer a program in the field. But what Binghamton University lacks in a journalism department, professor Mary Haupt makes up for.
“She’s my favorite professor in Binghamton so far and I’m a senior,” said Emily Martinez, a senior majoring in English. “Haupt is just so personable.”
Call her Binghamton’s mother of journalism.
Mary Haupt was born and raised in Ohio, where she later attended Ohio State University. While in college, she originally pursued a fine arts degree.
“I always liked to paint and draw, and I still do today,” Haupt said. “So I started out as a fine arts major, but I realized that I wasn’t going to be a brilliant artist, so I became an English major.”
After college, Haupt worked some odd jobs before attending the University of Colorado. There she was offered free courses and decided to see what journalism classes were all about. She fell in love. Haupt went back to school and got her master’s degree in journalism from Ohio State.
“Graduate school taught me how to be a journalist,” Haupt said. “I was required to take three courses in other subject areas so I’d not only be able to write but have something to say once I became a reporter.”
Haupt focused on two areas of interest, cinema and photography. One of her classes inspired her to write a piece on Louis Daguerre, the first person to use the photographic process, and landed her an article in Early American Life. Haupt was published before even graduating. Her journalism career only progressed from there. She got her first job in Binghamton at the Press & Sun-Bulletin (then known as The Sun Bulletin) in 1975 as a general reporter.
She recalls a budget crisis for SUNY schools in 1976 when things weren’t so great in Binghamton.
“It was a horrible time for SUNY,” Haupt said. “38 faculty lines were cut and students took over the eighth floor of the administration building. It made for great stories.”
But her most memorable moment didn’t come from the satisfaction of writing a solid piece, but instead from the response of the reader.
“I wrote a column about how to explain death to a child after my grandson discovered a dead bird,” Haupt said. “A woman wrote me saying that after she read my column she was able to cry for the first time after the death of her husband.”
Haupt worked her way around the office as copy desk chief, opinion editor and features editor.
“What’s nice about working in a newspaper office is you can always try something new,” Haupt said.
In the mid-1980s, Haupt had her first child and decided to put journalism on the back burner. It was then that an adjunct position opened at BU and she jumped on the opportunity.
“I thought I’d give teaching a shot and I loved it,” Haupt said. “As soon as a full-time position opened up, I took it. You can’t work on a paper until 1 a.m. if you’re trying to raise a family.”
This year, Haupt celebrates 25 years of teaching at the University, and her classes are still as popular as ever. With so few journalism classes offered each semester, many non-English majors don’t get the opportunity to take one of her classes. That’s why Haupt enjoys teaching online, allowing students to “get their feet wet in something new.”
Of all her course offerings, “News Editing” is her favorite. In the class, Haupt shares hilarious editing mistakes and teaches advanced students about avoiding common journalism faux pas on the road to becoming a good writer. Fiona O’Malley, a senior majoring in English, appreciates Haupt’s passion and quirky teaching methods.
“I took ‘Introduction to Journalism’ with her and now I’m taking ‘News Editing,’” O’Malley said. “She uses her experience in the field as a learning tool. Plus, her cool stories are always fun to hear.”
In addition to her work at the University, Haupt is a community representative on the Broome County Family Violence Prevention Council, a Marcy Hall fellow and a grandmother of four.
“My grandkids keep me hopping,” Haupt said. “If I have some free time, though, I like to garden. It’s good relaxation.”
Haupt enjoys the outdoors in general. In the winter she snowshoes in the countryside and in the summer she takes walks around her neighborhood.
“I try to find a way to be outside,” Haupt said. “It gets depressing here otherwise.”
If anyone interested in journalism needs some advice, Haupt is always happy to help.
“I like being that resource, helping people pick a grad school or figure out what a newspaper wants,” Haupt said. “I enjoy helping students.”