Boston University Names Donald K. Wright the Burson Professor and Chair in Public Relations

Contact: Kira Jastive, 617-358-1240 |

(Boston) – Boston University today announced that it has named Donald K. Wright the Harold Burson Professor and Chair in Public Relations. The appointment, effective for five years beginning September 1, 2010, was announced by Tom Fiedler, Dean of BU’s College of Communication (COM), who called Wright an internationally known professor, researcher and corporate communications consultant.

Established in honor of Harold Burson, Founder and Chairman of Burson-Marsteller, one of the world’s largest public relations agencies, the endowment that established the professorship and chair was funded by Burson-Marsteller, its employees and clients, and by Young and Rubicam, Burson-Marsteller’s former parent company.

Burson co-founded Burson-Marsteller with Bill Marsteller in 1953 and has been credited with introducing integrated communication marketing to public relations practice. Throughout his career, the 89-year-old Burson has supported public relations research and education, developing training programs and mentoring young professionals. His company has a long history of collaboration with BU and has hired many of its COM graduates.

In 2000, PR Week named Burson as “the century’s most influential PR figure” in recognition of a culmination of more than 50 years of service as a counselor to and confidante of corporate CEOs, government leaders and heads of public sector institutions. That same year, the magazine also recognized Wright as one of the “top-ten public relations educators in the nation.”

According to T. Barton Carter, Chair of the Department of Mass Communication, Advertising and Public Relations, the decision to have the Burson chair and professorship at BU demonstrates a strong reflection on the fact that the university enjoys an impressive reputation in public relations teaching and research.

“BU is home to the world’s oldest university degree in public relations – the Master of Science in Public Relations degree – that has been offered continuously since 1947. In addition to this highly regarded master’s program, BU also offers a public relations emphasis as part of its undergraduate Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree,” said Carter.

Carter pointed out that BU’s reputation for excellence in public relations education is enhanced by the faculty’s unique mix of practitioners and academics. The entire Department of Mass Communication, Advertising and Public Relations at BU is well-known for teaching and research success. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked the department first in the nation on its Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index.

Wright, who is in his fifth year as Professor of Public Relations, is one of the world’s most published public relations scholars. The majority of his research focuses upon communication ethics, employee communication and social media.

In addition to teaching, conducting scholarly and applied research, and lecturing in more than 30 countries on five continents, Wright has worked full-time in corporate, agency and university public relations, and has been a communications consultant for three decades working with a number of major corporate clients including Bayer, Fidelity Investments, Lockheed Martin, Nortel, Siemens, the U.S. Postal Service, United Technologies and Westinghouse. Prior to moving to BU, Wright held faculty appointments at the Universities of Texas (at Austin), Georgia and South Alabama.

Wright serves on the boards of trustees of both the Arthur W. Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations. He is a past president of the International Public Relations Association and is a Research Fellow of the Institute for Public Relations. He is editor of Public Relations Journal, the quarterly, open-access, online, blind reviewed scholarly publication of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and also serves on the editorial review boards of the Journal of Public Relations Research and Public Relations Review and is director of two noted national professional development training programs for corporate and agency practitioners: the Public Relations Executive Forum and the Public Relations Leadership Forum.

Wright is the third BU faculty member to hold the Burson professorship and chair. The inaugural recipient was Otto Lerbinger, who taught public relations courses at BU for 50 years prior to his retirement in 2004 and held the Burson professorship and chair in 2003 and 2004. Chris Komisarjevsky, a former CEO of Burson-Marsteller, served in the position during the 2005-06 academic year.

The Harold Burson Professorship and Chair in Public Relations is one of two endowed professorships at COM. An international search currently is underway for the Feld Professorship in New Media in the college.

About Boston University
Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized private research university with more than 30,000 students participating in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.

Additional contacts:

Tom Fiedler,, 617-353-3450

T. Barton Carter,, 617-353-3482

Don Wright,, 617-353-5970 or 617-306-4006

Harold Burson,, 212-614-4444