Baylor Honors Former CENTCOM Communications Director

  • News Photo 1489
    Former CENTCOM director of communications Jim Wilkinson talked about his experiences in Iraq during the annual President's Media Luncheon Aug. 25.
  • News Photo 1488
    Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. presented Jim Wilkinson with the 2003 Baylor Communications Award during the President's Media Luncheon Aug. 25.
Aug. 25, 2003

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Jim Wilkinson, who served the last 10 months as Director of Strategic Communications for Gen. Tommy R. Franks at U.S. Central Command, was honored with the 2003 Baylor Communications Award during the annual Baylor University President's Media Luncheon Aug. 25 at the Waco Convention Center. Streaming video is available on BaylorTV.com

Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. presented Wilkinson with the award, which was established seven years ago to honor those individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of communications and also in their communities.

From November 2002 through Aug. 20, 2003, Wilkinson coordinated CENTCOM's strategic communications activities throughout the 25-nation region, including those related to the war on terrorism and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Wilkinson served as Gen. Franks' principal spokesman and directed the U.S. military's public affairs activities in close coordination with the Department of Defense, The White House, The State Department, the National Security Council and other coalition governments, including the United Kingdom and Australia.

Throughout the war, Wilkinson provided oversight for the Coalition Press Information Centers in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Baghdad and Central Command's home headquarters in Tampa, Fla. Wilkinson accompanied Gen. Franks on several trips to Iraq during the war, managed media operations for Iraq's historic first democratic meeting and helped implement defense department's successful media embedding program, which put several hundred journalists on the front lines with coalition forces.

For the first two years of President George W. Bush's Administration - from January 2001 through November 2002 - Wilkinson served at The White House as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Communications for Planning. At The White House, Wilkinson coordinated communications for the President's domestic and foreign policy agenda and managed a wide range of presidential initiatives, which included the President's Economic Forum held Aug. 13, 2002, on the Baylor campus. In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and in coordination with the subsequent military campaign, Wilkinson managed the White House international communications team for the war against terrorism, including Coalition Information Centers at the White House and in London, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Prior to joining the White House, Wilkinson served as spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during the 2000 presidential transition. Wilkinson also served during the transition period as Director of Media Relations for the Texas State Society Presidential Inaugural Ball.

In 2000, Wilkinson served as Director of Communications at the National Republican Congressional Committee, overseeing political communications for the U.S. House of Representatives. At the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Wilkinson managed congressional media relations for then-presidential candidate George W. Bush. During the Florida recount following the 2000 presidential election, Wilkinson served as Miami-Dade County recount team spokesman for Bush, and also served in several other Florida countries on Bush's behalf.

From 1992 to 2000, Wilkinson worked in Congress for U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, serving in several positions, including Legislative Assistant, Political Director, Director of Member Relations, Deputy Floor Assistant and Press Secretary.

In 1995 Wilkinson traveled to Mongolia to help the Mongolians form a coalition to defeat the former Communists in the nation's first round of free elections. Wilkinson worked with multiple political parties in Mongolia to help craft the coalition's election platform, which became the most widely distributed document in Mongolian history. In 2002 Wilkinson traveled to the Kingdom of Morocco to conduct a series of seminars for a broad spectrum of Moroccan political parties as part of the fledgling democratic effort sanctioned by King Mohammed VI.

A native Texan born in Nacogdoches, Wilkinson began his undergraduate work at Weatherford College, where he was recruited as a collegiate tennis player. He received his undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Texas at Arlington and his master's degree in government from The Johns Hopkins University. Wilkinson also serves as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves and is a licensed pilot.

Wilkinson joins past recipients of the Baylor Communications Award:


+ 2002 -- Peggy Wehmeyer, former ABC News national religion correspondent


+ 2001 -- Frank Fallon, legendary Baylor sports broadcaster


+ 2000 -- Steve Blow, columnist with The Dallas Morning News


+ 1999 -- Dave Campbell, a 1950 Baylor graduate, founder and editor-in-chief of Texas Football magazine, editor-in-chief of the Baylor Bear Insider and retired sports editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald


+ 1998 -- Troy Dungan, chief weather anchor at WFAA-TV in Dallas and a 1959 Baylor graduate


+ 1997 -- Jack Loftis, editor emeritus of the Houston Chronicle and a 1957 Baylor graduate; Hollis Biddle, special projects director of the Waco Tribune-Herald and former managing editor of Texas Football magazine; and Ann Roznovsky, marketing director of the Waco Tribune-Herald


+ 1996 -- Toby Druin, editor emeritus of the Baptist Standard and a 1966 Baylor graduate, and Rick Bradfield, news director of KWTX-TV in Waco and a 1976 Baylor graduate

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