Former Middle East hostage Terry Anderson to teach at UK

ralessi@herald-leader.comDecember 19, 2008 

Terry A. Anderson, the former chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press who spent nearly seven years as a hostage in Lebanon, has joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky's journalism school.

Anderson, 61, will teach a mass-media diversity class focused on international journalism. The course will start in January, said Beth E. Barnes, director of the School of Journalism and Telecommunications. He also will work on projects with the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, and the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, both based at UK.

The university also tapped Anderson and his wealth of international experience to help broaden UK's global reach. Anderson will work with the provost's office to expand study-abroad opportunities, establish new faculty-exchange programs and help UK journalism students land foreign internships.

"UK's a fine university, and they understand that it's a multicultural, international world," Anderson said.

The plan includes helping to attract more international students to UK. The university recently announced that the number of undergraduate students from abroad jumped 14.6 percent this academic year after UK hired an international recruiter.

"One of the things I find that gets overlooked is that your international students here are not just students; they are valuable to the learning of other students here, who may not have had much contact with other cultures," Anderson said.

Anderson's contract with UK will last two years, and he will be paid $70,000 a year, Barnes said. Part of that salary will be paid through the journalism school and the Rural-Journalism Institute and First Amendment Center funding. The rest of his salary, as well as Anderson's benefits, will be covered by the provost's office, she said.

Starting in 1999, Anderson was a visiting professor at Ohio University, where he also bolstered the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism's foreign internship program by establishing a pipeline for students to news outlets in the Middle East.

Anderson used his global Rolodex to help students land reporting internships in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Yemen. He said he hopes to do something similar at UK.

"When I was with the AP and we got a student that had taken the time and effort to get an internship overseas during the college years, it would say to us, "Here's someone who's truly interested in other cultures and places and bothered to go there,'" he said.

Moving to Kentucky, where he's now living in Nicholasville, is a sort of homecoming for Anderson. Early in his career, he worked as state editor at the AP's Louisville bureau, in 1974 and 1975.

A native of Loraine, Ohio, Anderson was the AP's chief Middle East correspondent in Beirut when pro-Iranian terrorists pulled him out of his car at gunpoint in March 1985. His kidnappers released him in December 1991, allowing him to reconnect with his wife, Madeleine Bassil, and meet for the first time his daughter, who was born three months after his abduction.

In 1994, he wrote the book Den of Lions about his ordeal.

In 2000, Anderson won a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the government of Iran for its role in his kidnapping. Anderson eventually left teaching and turned a bar in Athens, Ohio, into a blues club and restaurant called the Blue Gator. He is now trying to sell it, he said.

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