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University hires new +spokesman+

April 9, 1997

University hires new 'spokesman'

By Ashlee Ross

Lariat Assistant City Editor

A Mercer University administrator will begin a new position at Baylor in three weeks as the associate vice president for communications.

Larry Brumley, a 1982 University alumnus who is currently associate vice president for university relations at Mercer, the nation's second largest Baptist university located in Macon, Ga., will begin his new position May 1.

'Basically [my job will be] to coordinate public relations and communication programs at the University,' Brumley said. 'One responsibility will be to act as a University spokesman.'

Brumley comes as the seventh person in less than two years to assume responsibility for the University's public relations office.

'We've had a lot of changes the past few years,' said Keith Randall, director of public relations. 'With all the changes, it just proves that this office can keep rolling and go with the flow.'

'It has been kind of an understanding for some time that we were going to do a reconfiguration of it [the public relations department],' said Dr. Stan Madden, vice president for University marketing.

'Larry will probably come in and spend some time just trying to understand what's going on and what we can do,' Madden said. 'My hope is over time that we can perhaps add some people and add some functions that we've never been able to do.'

Brumley said he was contacted by the University in February and expressed interest in the position. His hiring was made official Tuesday.

'He had talked with another part of the University when he was just sort of looking around,' Madden said. 'They were not in a position to hire him but they made us aware of him. I had asked the president several months ago if we could have the position--in the event we found the right person to do it--because we needed to broaden the area of communications.

'When Larry's resume came across my desk, I sat and sort of looked at it for about 15 minutes,' Madden said. 'And I knew by the time I got through looking at it that if there was a way to get him to Baylor, then he could make everything we're doing here better. He had some pieces of experience that we did not have and his heart was back at Baylor long before he had the chance to come here.'

Brumley will be working with Madden.

'Dr. Madden is going to continue to exercise a leadership role in public relations,' Brumley said. 'I imagine I'll be doing most of the day-to-day matters of speaking. A lot of that remains to be seen.'

In the past several months the University has come under public scrutiny several times, from the possible sale of of the Baylor Health Care System to questions about the balance of faith and academics. Madden hopes Brumley will eliminate misconceptions.

'I think a lot of what passes for an image problem is based in a series of reactive experiences that the University's been through,' Madden said. 'Most of the time through the years that we have been in the press, we have been responding to something. I think if all you ever hear from someone is them answering questions, you get kind of a distorted perception about what somebody's about.'

Madden said there are three ways to approach external communication: Reactive, proactive and strategic.

'The key to Larry's contribution is probably that he thinks more strategically,' Madden said. 'It fits really well with our group. He can help us in a lot of ways, but the main way will be to think in terms of the kind of relationships we want to build with the constituency.'

Brumley said Mercer and Baylor are similar as Christian institutions of higher learning.

'Universities like Baylor and Mercer go through controversial issues, and sometimes these issues are emotional,' Brumley said. 'We need to effectively communicate to them [the constituents] what the University is doing and then when controversy comes, you'll have enough of a base there to endure those times.'

Because Brumley will be the University's spokesman, Madden said he himself will concentrate on other areas of University development.

'I've got 10 areas that I'm responsible for,' Madden said. 'I've gotten a lot of help out of the [public relations] group, but it still has been a very demanding single area to spend time in. I need to be spending more time in Unversity management and governmental relations.'

In the 1980s, Brumley worked in Oklahoma Baptist University's Bison Athletic Association, and Madden hopes Brumley will work with athletics at Baylor.

'I'm going to ask him to liason with them because I think frequently we don't do as good a job coordinating,' Madden said. 'They've got a different kind of task, but I think the opportunities for athletics are enormous right now.'

Brumley graduated from Baylor with a degree in journalism. He earned a master's degree in mass communications in 1992 from the University of Oklahoma.

'As a Baylor alumnus and as a Texan, I think this opportunity at Baylor is one I can invest myself in for a long time,' Brumley said. 'I have a very personal interest in this as an alum of Baylor.'

Brumley's wife Emily graduated from the University's School of Education in 1982. The Brumleys have two daughters, ages 7 and 10.

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