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1940s
1950s
1960s
1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s
2010s

1914

Feb
03

1913-1914

The first journalism and advertising classes are offered at the College of Business Administration (CBA).

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1915

Feb
03

1915

Gertrude Stevenson, a reporter for the Boston Journal, is CBA’s first female journalism instructor.

X

1916

Feb
03

1916

Journalism students publish the Boston University News under the direction of Boston Post editor Harry B. Center (CAS 1900).

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1925

Feb
03

1925

BU launches a degree-granting program in journalism, awarding the first degrees in 1928.

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1928

Feb
03

1928

Edward Bernays (Hon.’66), later known as the “Father of Public Relations,” publishes his seminal work, Propaganda.

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1939

Feb
03

1939

Radio classes begin at CBA.

X

1945

Feb
03

1945

Carl Mydans (SMG’30, COM’32, Hon.’60), a Life magazine photographer, captures General Douglas MacArthur’s return to the Philippines. Photo by Carl Mydans/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images


Newsweek writer James P. O’Donnell is the first American to access the bunker where Adolf Hitler died. He becomes a BU professor of journalism in 1985.

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1947

Feb
03

1947

The School of Public Relations (SPR) opens.


Principles of Motion Pictures classes are offered in the new Department of Motion Pictures and Visual Aids.

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1948

Feb
03

1948

BU President Daniel Marsh (STH 1908, Hon.’53) introduces the concept of public relations as an academic pursuit—and addresses criticism of BU’s new school—in a Founders’ Day speech titled “Public Relations: A New Profession.”

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1949

Feb
03

1949

Future Professor Carol Hills (’49) receives the country’s first master’s degree in public relations. Photo by BU Photography


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1950

Feb
28

1950

WBUR, an FM station partly run by students, goes on the air on March 1. President John F. Kennedy (Hon.’55), then a US representative from Massachusetts, visits the station in 1951. Photo by BU Photography


SPR is renamed the School of Public Relations and Communications (SPRC).


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1951

Feb
03

1951

Television courses are added to the curriculum.


Master of Science degrees are added in Motion Pictures and Visual Aids in Public Relations, as well as in Radio-Television Broadcasting.

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1953

Feb
03

1953

Professor of Public Relations Otto Lerbinger (’44), COM’s longest-serving faculty member, comes to BU.

X

1955

Feb
03

1955

Air Force public information officers begin taking four-week summer courses in public relations at BU. The program is offered year-round beginning in 1961.

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1957

Feb
03

1957

SPRC moves to 640 Commonwealth Avenue, its home ever since.


BU Television (WBU-TV), BU’s student-run TV station, debuts.

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1958

Feb
03

1958

Construction takes place on a new radio tower for the School. Photo by BU Photography

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1959

Feb
03

1959

The Communication Research Center launches with a three-year study on newspaper comics that finds them to be an invaluable cultural record. The center’s focus shifts to television research in 1960.

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1964

Feb
03

1964

SPRC is renamed the School of Public Communication (SPC).


Gordon Manning (’41) is named head of the news division at CBS.

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1966

Feb
03

1966

Alfred Hitchcock visits the film department after premiering his film Torn Curtain in Boston. Photo by BU Photography


John Henning (’63) anchors the evening news at WNAC-TV and goes on to anchor at all major Boston TV networks.

X

1967

Feb
03

1967

Future University Trustee Andrea Taylor (’68) helps launch UMOJA, BU’s black student union. Taylor later becomes Microsoft’s director for North American community affairs.

X

1968

Feb
28

1968

Robert Squier (’57), who later becomes famous for pioneering techniques for political TV ads, works on Hubert Humphrey’s presidential campaign. Future clients include Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

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1970

Feb
03

1970

The founding staff of the Daily Free Press, led by Charles Radin (’71), publishes its first issue to report on a campus-wide war protest. Photo by Frank Curren; first issue courtesy of Charles Radin

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1972

Feb
03

1972

Gerard O’Neill (’70) is the first COM alum to win a Pulitzer in journalism, for local investigative specialized reporting that exposed corruption in Somerville, Massachusetts. Photo by Vernon Doucette

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1973

Feb
03

1973

Paul Newman visits BU to give a sneak peek of a film he directed. Photo by BU Photography


Howard Stern (CGS’74, COM’76), later the self-proclaimed “King of all Media” known for successes including his award-winning radio program The Howard Stern Show, begins working as a DJ for student radio station WTBU. The station claims to be the first to fire Stern.

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1974

Feb
03

1974

Professor Walter Lubars founds AdLab, an advertising agency staffed entirely by BU students. Photo by BU Photography


As a graduate student, future political commentator Bill O’Reilly (’75) lands an exclusive interview with Fanne Foxe, an exotic dancer involved in a political scandal with a US congressman.

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1975

Feb
03

1975

Allison Davis (CGS’73, COM’75) cofounds the National Association of Black Journalists.

X

1976

Feb
03

1976

George Beebe (’32, SMG’32) establishes the World Press Freedom Committee to champion the rights of a free press around the globe.

X

1978

Feb
03

1978

SPC opens PRLab, the nation’s oldest student-run public relations agency.

X

1979

Feb
03

1979

Chester Simmons, who pursued a master’s degree in radio and television at BU in the 1950s, is named president of ESPN.

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1980

Feb
03

1980

Jean Picker Firstenberg (’58) is named CEO of the American Film Institute.


BU’s Redstone Film Festival, sponsored by Viacom Chair Sumner Redstone (Hon.’94), launches. Academy Award-nominated producer Richard Gladstein (CGS’81, COM’83) is among the early winners.

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1981

Feb
03

1981

Roland Hallé (’80), center left, and Peter Ladue (’80), center right, win an Academy Award for their graduate project, the documentary Karl Hess: Toward Liberty. The duo, pictured with actors Richard Chamberlain and Lesley-Anne Down, received a Student Academy Award for the film the year before, making them the first student winners to also win the Academy Award. Other COM Academy Award recipients include Margaret Lazarus (’72), who won in 1994 for Defending Our Lives, a documentary about women in prison who’d killed their abusers. Photo from the Academy Awards show photographs collection of the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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1982

Feb
03

1982

SPC establishes its Distinguished Alumni Awards. The first recipients include George Beebe (’32, SMG’32), Jean Picker Firstenberg (’58) and editor and journalist Ida Lewis (DGE’54, COM’56).

X

1983

Feb
03

1983

Pete Souza (’76) is appointed official White House photographer for President Ronald Reagan, pictured here with First Lady Nancy Reagan and Michael Jackson at the White House in 1984. Souza is currently the chief official White House photographer for President Barack Obama. Photo courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Library


Edward Boches (’76), a future advertising professor at COM, becomes a managing partner of the ad agency Mullen. His 1999 Monster.com campaign, When I Grow Up, ranks as one of the 10 best Super Bowl ads of all time.

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1984

Feb
03

1984

The School of Public Communication is renamed the College of Communication (COM).

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1985

Feb
03

1985

Dodge Morgan (’59) becomes the first American to sail solo nonstop around the world.


Law and Mass Communication Professor
T. Barton Carter
(’78) coauthors the third edition of The First Amendment and the Fourth Estate.

X

1986

Feb
03

1986

The Disinformation Documentation Center opens under the direction of former Czech spy Lawrence Martin-Bittman. Future Pulitzer winner Don Van Natta, Jr. (’86) is among his students.


The London Internship Program begins, offering work opportunities in the British journalism, advertising and public relations, and film and television industries.

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1987

Feb
03

1987

Orlando Bagwell (’74, ’77) directs and produces episodes of the landmark Civil Rights documentary Eyes on the Prize. Bagwell later becomes the director of the Ford Foundation’s “Just Films” Initiative. Photo from the Washington University Libraries, Film & Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection


Journalist and screenwriter Nicholas Gage (DGE’61, COM’63, Hon.’85), who described his mother’s flight from Communist-occupied Greece in Eleni, establishes the Eleni Gatzoyiannis Scholarship in her honor.

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1988

Feb
03

1988

Future Associate Professor of Advertising Carolyn Clark is named an executive vice president at Hill Holliday ad agency. In 2013 the Ad Club of Boston names her one of its “100 Women We Admire.”

X

1990

Feb
03

1990

Janet Chusmir (’49), the first female chief executive at Knight Ridder, is named Editor of the Year by the National Press Foundation.


John Verret, then-president of Arnold Worldwide and a future advertising professor at COM, is named Executive of the Year by Adweek.

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1991

Feb
03

1991

Tom Fiedler (’71) and the staff of the Miami Herald win the Pulitzer in journalism for spot news reporting for a series on a Miami cult leader. In 1993, he was part of the team that won the Pulitzer for Hurricane Andrew coverage. With Fiedler as executive editor, the newspaper won two additional Pulitzers. Fiedler was named dean of the College of Communication in 2008. Photo from the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory


Bay State, the longest-running college soap opera on television, premieres.


Future franchise trailblazer and BU Trustee Sidney J. Feltenstein (’62), who helped create Dunkin’ Donuts’s “time to make the donuts” commercials, begins his famous revitalization of the Burger King brand. In 2013 he wins the International Franchise Association’s Hall of Fame Award.


NPR’s Nina Totenberg (’65, Hon.’11) is the first to report on the sexual-harassment affidavit filed by attorney Anita Hill against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Totenberg studied journalism at BU but left before graduating to begin her reporting career.

X

1992

Feb
03

1992

Sue Parenio wins a Cannes Bronze Lion and a Gold Effie (in 1993) for her work on JELL-O advertisements. Parenio later teaches at COM for 17 years.


COM opens its first PC computing lab.

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1993

Feb
03

1993

Former BU Professor Diana Chapman Walsh (’71, UNI’83, Hon.’94) is named president of Wellesley College.


Hugo Shong (’87) helps launch International Data Group’s $50 million IDG Capital venture fund in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong. Shong has launched and published more than 40 magazines in China and Vietnam, including the Chinese editions of Harper’s Bazaar and National Geographic.

X

1994

Feb
03

1994

COM’s first multimedia labs open.

X

1995

Feb
03

1995

Bruce Feirstein (’75) pens James Bond screenplays, starting with GoldenEye. Photo from Getty Images


Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino (Hon.’01) declares January 5 “David Brudnoy Day” in honor of the popular radio host and COM professor of mass communication.


Brian Bedol (’80) launches the Classic Sports Network (now ESPN Classic). In 1999 he cofounds College Sports Television.

X

1998

Feb
03

1998

Film director-producer Gary Fleder (’85) and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg (’85) sponsor a screenplay contest as part of the Redstone Film Festival.


Ida Lewis (DGE’54, COM’56) is named the editor of the NAACP magazine the Crisis.

X

1999

Feb
03

1999

Hothouse Productions, a student-run television production company for undergraduates, opens under the direction of Assistant Professor of Film Garland Waller (’80). Clients include Boston Children’s Hospital and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

X

2000

Feb
03

2000

The Washington Journalism Center opens. Students go on to cover the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, work for national news outlets and serve as correspondents for media throughout New England.


The Science and Medical Journalism Center is established. Among its graduates are editors at Wired and Discover magazines.

X

2002

Feb
03

2002

The Sports Institute, a four-week intensive program in sports broadcasting founded and directed by eight-time Emmy Award winner Frank Shorr (SMG’70, COM’73), begins.

X

2003

Feb
03

2003

COM opens BU in LA, a Hollywood-based study program where students gain experience in film and television production.


COM establishes its first endowed faculty chair—the Harold Burson Chair in Public Relations—in honor of Burson (Hon.’88), founder of the global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller. Otto Lerbinger (44) is the first recipient.

X

2004

Feb
03

2004

Barbara Pariente (’70) is named chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court. She’d served on the court since 1997 and participated in ordering a recount in the 2000 presidential election.

X

2005

Feb
03

2005

Christopher Callahan (’82) is named founding dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.


Paul La Camera (’66, MET’74) is named general manager of WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station.


BUTV becomes butv10, the University’s official TV channel, after years as an independent company. The network’s programs, broadcast on channel 10 of BU’s cable network, will win Telly Awards for five consecutive years (2008-2012).

X

2006

Feb
03

2006

COM receives high-definition production equipment and digital editing stations thanks to a gift from COM parents Marilyn Katzenberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks.

X

2007

Feb
03

2007

Associate Professor of Journalism Nick Mills (DGE’62, COM’64) becomes the official biographer of Hamid Karzai (Hon.’05), president of Afghanistan; together they write Karzai: The Failing American Intervention and the Struggle for Afghanistan.


Al-Zain Al-Sabah (CGS’94, COM’96) launches Eagle Vision Media Group to promote and showcase Arab filmmakers. The company later coproduces the film Amreeka, which wins an award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

X

2008

Feb
03

2008

Lauren Shuler Donner (CGS’69, COM’71), producer of films including X-Men, You’ve Got Mail and Pretty in Pink, receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Photo by Valerie Macon/WireImage


Professor Caryl Rivers wins the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society of Professional Journalists.

X

2009

Feb
03

2009

The New England Center for Investigative Reporting, the first nonprofit multimedia investigative reporting university program in the country, opens to train student journalists. In the first three years, reporters completed 32 major investigations on topics including inner-city mortgage scams.

X

2010

Feb
03

2010

The BU News Service partners with the Boston Globe to publish student work in community reporting.

X

2011

Feb
03

2010-2011

The Master of Science in Media Ventures trains entrepreneurs and innovators to develop, pitch and launch new digital content initiatives. The first graduates land positions at new media start-ups around the country.

X
Mar
13

2011

Photojournalist Tyler Hicks (’92), pictured here in 2011 in Libya four days before being taken captive by government soldiers, wins a Polk Award for Foreign Reporting. In 2009, his New York Times team won a Pulitzer for coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images


Ted Harbert (’77) is named chairman of NBC Broadcasting.

X

2012

Feb
03

2012

Crisis manager Judy Smith (CGS’78, COM’80), whose firm has helped navigate public relations disasters for Monica Lewinsky and Michael Vick, is a coexecutive producer on the hit TV show Scandal, inspired by her work in Washington, DC. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky


David Lubars (CGS’78, COM’80), chief creative officer worldwide and chairman for North America at BBDO, is ranked the world’s top creative leader by The Directory Big Won. He receives the title again in 2013.


Brothers Josh (’07) and Benny (’08) Safdie win the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Jury Prize in Short Film for The Black Balloon.

X

2013

Feb
03

2013

Associate Professor of Journalism Michelle Johnson wins the Journalism Educator of the Year award from the National Association of Black Journalists. NABJ President Gregory Lee presents Michelle Johnson with her award at NABJ’s 2013 convention. Photo by Nicholas C. Johnson/NABJ   Monitor


Bonnie Hammer (CGS’69, COM’71, SED’75) is named chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. She’s been listed among the most powerful women in entertainment by publications including Fortune, Vanity Fair and the Hollywood Reporter.


Students reporting for the BU News Service provide on-the-scene coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings for CNN, NBC, Boston.com and WCVB-TV. Their coverage earns them two awards at the 2013 Online Journalism Awards.


WTBU wins Station of the Year at the College Radio Awards for the second year in a row.


Professor of Journalism Dick Lehr publishes Whitey: The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss as James “Whitey” Bulger goes on trial after 16 years on the run.


Emerging Media Studies, a research-based graduate program set to offer COM’s first doctoral degree, launches, funded by the family of Alana Feld Hackel (’02).


Franca Bertagnin Benetton (’90) is named to the Benetton Group Board of Directors. The company’s controversial “Unhate” advertising campaign, featuring political and social rivals kissing, wins the Press Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Ad Festival.


The Hollywood Reporter names COM 11th in its Top 25 Film Schools list.


New York Times media columnist David Carr is named COM’s inaugural Andrew R. Lack Professor.

X

Article by Jessica Ullian. Julie Rattey and former Boston University Lecturer Andrea Volpe contributed research to this article.

Photos at top are by BU Photography unless otherwise indicated. From left to right: circa 1950s, a woman speaking into a WBUR microphone at SPRC (now COM); Paul Newman visiting BU in 1973 to give a sneak peek of a film he directed; producer-director Orlando Bagwell ('74, '77) (photo by Kalman Zabarsky); media personality Howard Stern (CGS'74, COM'76); Life magazine photographer Carl Mydans (SMG'30, COM'32, Hon.'60); Super Bowl ad (Snickers—"Betty White") by David Lubars (CGS'78, COM'80) with BBDO (image courtesy of BBDO); Walter Lubars, founder of AdLab at BU (photo by Fred Sway); student Dacia Libutti of SPRC (now COM) reading the BU News in 1956

What's Your Reason
to Celebrate?

We invite you to share COM memories and photos, along with your groundbreaking achievements from past and present. Look for your stories and news on COM’s social media and this timeline throughout 2014. We’ll also feature selections in the next COMtalk, which will explore how COM and its alums are breaking new ground.

9 Comments on 100 Reasons

  • Varsity basketball captain , Umoja officer and Boston University’ s First Rhodes Scholar would become University Trustee, Board Member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. COM ’71, Oxford University ’73, Harvard Law School ‘ 77 and Harvard Business School ‘ 77.

  • Varsity basketball captain, Umoja officer and Boston University’s First Rhodes Scholar would become University Trustee, Board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation.

  • 1997: David Pendery graduates from COM, Department of Journalism.

  • I was surprised to see my photo on page 18 of ComTalk’s Spring 2014 issue. The photo was taken back in 1973 at a screening of The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds at SPC (now COM). I was a journalism major at B.U. but had a film school friend (Tony) get me into the screening (which was limited to film majors). I was thrilled to have my photo taken with Paul Newman, who looked fantastic and was a great speaker. Unfortunately, my eyes were closed in the photo, but I bought a print anyway and later found a professional retoucher who could “open my eyes.” (This was a big deal in the days before computer photo editing!) I don’t recognize the other two people in the photo, but the experience remains vivid even after forty years. I’m the tall one with a camera in my hands. These days, I’m usually still the one with a camera in my hands!

  • Comtalk is a wonderful look at BU past. I’m very disappointed that Virgil Rankin, the first dean of SPRC was not mentioned. His appointment as Dean of the school was momentous in that he was a well-established professional public relations consultant in New York. He left the world of reality and brought his knowledge to BU. How could the Comtalk editors ignored him. He was the first and made the school what it has become today. I was privileged to have been a student at that time graduating in 1952.

  • I want to get in touch with a classmate of mine from the SPRC Class of ’52. Larry Sewell graduated summa cum laude. We were very close during those years. He went on to being named Public Relations Director for Alco Corporation. The last time I saw him was when I was in Pittsburgh with the firm crew shooting “The Deer Hunter” back in 1978. If he is still a alumni and reachable please let me know..

  • It is nice to see that BU is finally recognizing Howard Stern as an alumni. Whether you agree or disagree with his public persona the fact remains that he has had a very successful career that crosses over many facets of pop culture.

  • It would be nice to see stories about international graduates as well. I’m certain than many of them succeeded back home.

  • You could add this to the timeline: COM starts Neighborhood Network News in 1984 – community focused TV news program staffed mostly by students. I think there were four paid staff – Rory O’Connor was news director, and there were three reporters. Such a great experience.

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