First Student Graduates from UM College of Arts & Sciences Independent Major Program

Playwright and Author William Hector Designed His Own Major with a Curriculum in Politics, Philosophy and Economics to Fit His Unique Career Goals

William Hector’s graduation next week will be an important milestone, both for him and for the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences.

Hector will be the first student to graduate from the College with an Independent Major (IM), a new initiative launched in fall 2014, which allows students to customize an A.B. or B.S. degree.

William Hector at a “Talkback Session” following a
reading of his play by students and faculty from the
College of Arts & Sciences Department of Theatre
Arts

He modeled his major – an interdisciplinary study of politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) – on programs at the Universities of Oxford and Pennsylvania. It supplements his studies in playwriting in the Department of Theatre Arts.

“Given my equal interests in politics and philosophy, I wanted to see if I could pursue a combined, interdisciplinary course of study here at UM, while also continuing my creative studies,” said Hector, who is also part of the selective Foote Fellow Honors Program at UM.

Students who wish to pursue an IM work with a Guidance Committee to select a course of study that is both rigorous and diverse. They must declare their intention to participate before reaching senior standing, and maintain a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

College of Arts & Sciences Senior Associate Dean Maria Galli Stampino spearheaded the program. She said, “William’s creativity is evident in the courses that he took to fulfill the Independent Major. I could not have asked for a better representative of our undergraduate student body to explore the possibilities that the IM affords.”

Hector said, “Although my goal is to become a writer and not an economist or political scientist, the material I learned in these disciplines has provided invaluable inspiration for my creative process.” He cited courses such as Decline of a Great Power and Philosophy of Law as particularly stimulating.

He said he would wholeheartedly recommend the Independent Major program to other students.

“There are so many classes throughout the University that are fascinating on their own and also synergize wonderfully with courses taught in other departments.”

Hector, who writes both plays and prose, plans to start submitting his works to theatres and publishers post-graduation. He was able to give equal focus to his independent major and his dramatic writing in the College.

“The best thing about my UM experience was the chance to have two of my plays read by amazing casts of student, faculty and outside professional actors,” he said. “These were both extraordinary opportunities and more than I could ever have hoped for at this stage of my development as a writer. Neither would have been possible without the dedication of the theatre arts department faculty or the direct and inspirational contributions of my PPE faculty.”

April 29, 2015