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, 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.
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.
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.