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(Boston, Mass.) – Boston University’s College of Communication today announced the establishment of a faculty chair in honor of Harold Burson, founder of Burson-Marsteller, the global communications consultancy now celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Harold Burson Chair in Public Relations is the first academic chair endowed at the College of Communication.
In ceremonies attended by Mr. Burson, Dr. Otto Lerbinger, professor of public relations at the College of Communication, was named The Harold Burson Chair’s first incumbent. The chair was established to provide an educational center of excellence focused on teaching, research and service in the study and professional practice of communication in public relations and public affairs.
“Harold Burson’s many contributions to the field of public relations cannot be underestimated and continue to be the foundation on which we have built our business and business practices over the last 50 years,” said Christopher Komisarjevsky, president and CEO, Burson-Marsteller worldwide. “We are thrilled to know Harold’s life achievements will inspire young people in the discipline of public relations for future generations at such an esteemed academic institution as Boston University.”
The Harold Burson Chair in Public Relations has been established to develop and share knowledge and best practices in the area of public relations, to further the public relations and public affairs profession, and to help create new leaders. The endowment, funded by Burson-Marsteller, its employees and clients, and Young & Rubicam, B-M’s parent company at the time funding was first sought, is in recognition of Harold Burson’s contribution to the growth of public relations as a business discipline.
“We are proud and truly delighted to name Otto Lerbinger as the first recipient of The Harold Burson Chair in Public Relations,” said John Schulz, dean of Boston University’s College of Communication. “Despite being the longest serving member of faculty on our campus, Dr. Lerbinger retains an energy and enthusiasm in the classroom that is seldom equaled and never surpassed. Each term, students note the demand and rigor of his classes and then give him rave reviews. Otto has been an outstanding faculty member for 50 years, continues to actively research and publish, and enjoys a well-deserved international reputation for his work in public relations, strategic planning and crisis management. If all that were not enough, he is a wonderful colleague and mentor to faculty and students alike.”
Lerbinger, a specialist in corporate public affairs and crisis management, is a former chairman of what is now the College’s Department of Mass Communication, Advertising and Public Relations. His research, teaching, and writing focus on advancing the communication profession through strategic management and specialized skills. Lerbinger holds a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he majored in industrial relations. He also attended the University of Chicago, the University of Frankfurt, and Harvard University.
Burson, described by PRWeek as “the century’s most influential PR figure,” has served for the past 50 years as counselor to and confidante of corporate CEOs, government leaders, and heads of public sector institutions. He was a presidential appointee to the Fine Arts Commission, Washington, D.C.; chairman of the National Council on Economic Education; chairman of the USIA Public Relations Advisory Committee; an executive council member of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi; and founder of the Kennedy Center Corporate Fund. He is a trustee and board member with many other public institutions. His awards include The Public Relations Society of America Gold Anvil Award and the Alexander Hamilton Medal from the Institute of Public Relations. Boston University honored him with a Doctorate of Humane Letters in 1988. A graduate of the University of Mississippi and a veteran of World War II, Burson began his career as an Army news correspondent for American Forces Network and covered the Nuremberg Trial.
“For nearly half a century, Harold Burson and Burson-Marsteller have been household names and Harold is a legend in the industry,” said Dr. Schulz. “His sense of partnership and collaboration with academe and academics is not new: in the 1960’s he and his team devoted a full week to seminars, lectures and presentations by staffers to further educate nearly two dozen PR professors, including Otto Lerbinger.
“Anyone who has met Harold Burson or knows his style says much the same: this is a man of calm and wisdom, who cuts to the heart of the matter and sees more clearly than others the essence of problems, issues and solutions. He is a brilliant strategic thinker, and that has kept him and his company on the cutting edge through five decades of change and complete transformation of global society and the public relations industry.”
More than 50 years ago, Boston University became the nation’s first school to offer a master’s degree in public relations. The present day College of Communication has an enrollment of more than 2,400 students in its three departments: Journalism, Film and Television, and Mass Communication, Advertising, and Public Relations. Burson-Marsteller’s endowment directly supports the mission of the College of Communication, to provide an educational center of excellence focused on teaching, research and service in the study and professional practice of communication, in public relations and public affairs.
The Harold Burson Leadership Forum
As part of the Harold Burson Chair in Public Relations, a series of lectures exploring issues that affect our world relating to the media, communications, public affairs and public relations will be offered throughout the year. The first public forum will be held at 6 p.m. tonight on “The Rise of Anti-Americanism: Can this Global Trend Be Reversed?” at the Boston University School of Management.
Burson-Marsteller (www.bm.com) is a leading global public relations and communications counseling firm, celebrating its 50th year. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, advertising and other communications services. The firm’s global network is designed to deliver premium, integrated services through 46 wholly owned offices and 51 affiliate offices, together operating in 58 countries across six continents. In 1979, the firm joined the Young & Rubicam family of companies, which in October 2000 was acquired by WPP Group plc (NASDQ: WPPGY), one of the world’s leading communications services groups.
About Boston University
Boston University, with an enrollment of more than 29,000 in its 17 schools and colleges, is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. The College of Communication has more than 2,400 students enrolled in its Department of Journalism, Film and Television, and Mass Communication, Advertising and Public Relations.
Note: Photos of Harold Burson and Dr. Otto Lerbinger are available at the following URL: http://www.bu.edu/photo/POST592HBOL.