Patrick Haney is the 2020 William Holmes McGuffey Award honoree
By Josh Chapin, manager of Editorial Services
For 22 years, Father Ken Grimes served as chaplain for the Ohio House of Representatives. It’s believed, said Patrick Haney, that his Uncle Kenny had the longest tenure of any chaplain of the House.
Like his uncle, Haney, too, has served for more than 20 years; only in his case the service has been scholarly rather than spiritual. Since fall semester of 1992, Haney has helped shape the minds and chart the futures of numerous Miami University students as a member of the political science department.
He started as an assistant professor; he’s now a professor and associate dean of Miami’s College of Arts and Science.
He’s also this year’s recipient of the William Holmes McGuffey Award. Formerly known as the Effective Educator Award, the McGuffey Award honors one Miami faculty or staff member whose impact extends far beyond the traditional parameters of education.
Just as his Uncle Kenny offered solace and support to some of Ohio’s notable political names – from Sherrod Brown and John Boehner to Miami’s own Mike Oxley ’66 – Haney has made his mark in his chosen field during a long and distinguished career.
Below is a sampling of the comments received from the outpouring of nominations for Haney’s McGuffey candidacy. Kim Tavares MBA ’12, executive director of the Miami University Alumni Association, theorized it might have been the most nominations for an educator in a single year.
“He was a professor who never gave up on me and who continued to support me through thick-and-thin, at school and in my personal life.” – Kyle Denman ’16
“He is the biggest advocate for our Miami students in and out of the classroom. From my late night phone calls, or internship crises, Dr. Haney unfailingly provides support and guidance.” – Emma Kinghorn ’20
“I chose to come to Miami after meeting Dr. Haney and seeing how committed he was to making sure every student had the richest college experience possible.” – Nikki Gundimeda ’20
Education was not the direction Haney was headed during his first year at Ohio State University. Thanks to Uncle Kenny, he grew up in Columbus around politics and figured his career path was in law.
That soon changed. When Haney took a class on international relations with Ohio State’s Brian Pollins, he started to get the research bug. It never went away.
By the time Haney was a senior, his path now led to a thesis on the farewell address of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, and a trip to Abilene, Kansas, to visit the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.
His next stop was Bloomington, Indiana, for graduate study at Indiana University. After that, he hoped, his road was clear to becoming a faculty member.
Haney watched as, one by one, his friends and classmates embarked on their first jobs.
One went to South Dakota. Another to Wyoming. When the call came from Miami informing Haney he was the newest political science faculty member, he was ecstatic. He grew up a fan of the famed Big Red Machine of the Cincinnati Reds. Now, he was a short drive away from Riverfront Stadium.
“You talk about nervous days,” Haney recalled of waiting to begin his career. “It was incredible to get a job at a place I love, to be around friends and family and, hopefully, to be successful.”
If the flood of support from students past and present is any indication, Haney has certainly met that goal. Even those who have never taken one of his classes rave about his encouragement and assistance.
“I have never received a grade from him nor sat in on his lectures,” wrote Megan Cremeans ’20. “Instead, I have received his mentorship and sat in his office as he has gone above and beyond to support a student he has never had in the classroom.”
For those who do take his courses, Haney has substantive objectives for them to meet. Learn the material. Master it. Develop a love for politics.
That last item is non-negotiable. “I want them to understand that there really is not an option. It’s going to go on whether you like it or not, whether you’re a part of the process or not,” he said. “There is that overarching democratic citizenship of the endeavor that I want them to get.”
He also wants his students to test out potential areas of interest for a career. Try an internship. If they like it, he helps them build on it. If they don’t, he helps them move on to something else that could fit better.
“He has shown me that not only do I belong in national security, but I can make a difference in a life dedicated to public service,” wrote Annika Fowler ’20. “I can only hope to inspire someone else like he has inspired me these last four years.”
That’s the greatest compliment Haney can receive. Like Brian Pollins did for him at Ohio State, Haney hopes to be that connection for his students that starts them down a fulfilling career path.
And, he also has his Uncle Kenny connection.
“When I would have students go off to intern for John Boehner before he was Speaker Boehner, I would send my business card with them,” Haney said, “and I would put on the back of the business card, ‘Father Kenny’s nephew.’ They all knew Kenny.”
Just, it seems, as all Miami students know Patrick Haney.