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UT Austin appoints new vice president for public affairs

Donald A. Hale, who has been the chief public relations officer at Carnegie Mellon University for the past 13 years, has accepted a position as vice president for public affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. The appointment was announced Monday (March 5) and is effective July 1.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Donald A. Hale, who has been the chief public relations officer at Carnegie Mellon University for the past 13 years, has accepted a position as vice president for public affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. The appointment was announced Monday (March 5) and is effective July 1.

The new vice president position was created as part of President Larry R. Faulkner’s reorganization of the UT Austin campus administration — the first sweeping changes in University administration in 20 years. The appointment of Hale completes the restructuring process, which was announced last spring with the objective of producing a more capable and less bureaucratic administration.

Hale will be responsible for the Office of Public Affairs, the Office of University Relations and visitor services, having leadership responsibility for the University’s interactions with the media and the public. He also will oversee the development and implementation of a comprehensive, strategic communications plan for UT Austin.

A former reporter and editor for United Press International (UPI), Hale has been at Carnegie Mellon since 1982. He has held the position of vice president for university relations since 1988. He also is secretary to Carnegie Mellon’s board of trustees. Hale manages a 60-person division that includes public relations, special events, publications, the alumni magazine, internal communications, media design, marketing, government relations, printing and copy center departments and is a part-time lecturer. He also worked in public affairs at Drexel University and taught classes in news writing at Temple University.

"Mr. Hale has compiled a superb record of accomplishments over a long career at Carnegie Mellon, and I am glad that his skills and his broad knowledge will now serve UT," said Faulkner in announcing the appointment. "As the largest single university community in America, situated in a dynamic community and critical to the future of America’s second-largest state, UT Austin serves many different constituencies.

"It has a need for sound communication with all. Don Hale has the background, the imagination and the energy to provide exceptional leadership in this complex environment."

Hale said his meetings with Faulkner, other administrators and deans convinced him that UT Austin represented "an exciting new opportunity. It is a great, great university, and there is a ‘can do’ attitude that I find very appealing. Implementing a comprehensive public relations program at any major research university is all about collaboration, compromise and cooperation," he said.

Hale said he sees the primary role of public relations as building mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its important constituencies. "A good relationship is built on trust. And trust comes from consistency. An effective communications program can help the University deliver this consistency," he said.

Hale said public relations has an important role to play at the management table. "This position, like the one I have now, will enable me to bring a public relations perspective to administrative decision- making," he said, adding that it is important for an organization to speak with one clear voice. "That doesn’t mean that there are not diverse and well-articulated perspectives and viewpoints. But it does mean that when the University communicates its vision, its mission and its promises to its key constituencies — it does so clearly and without equivocation."

A national search was conducted for the vice president for public affairs position. Nearly 200 applications were received.

"I think Don Hale is going to be a spectacular vice president for public affairs," said Lawrence Speck, dean of the UT Austin School of Architecture and chairman of the search committee. "His record of innovation and success at Carnegie Mellon is outstanding. In particular, we were struck by what a strong team player Don seems to be. He emphasized building a public affairs consciousness throughout the University, not just in one office."

Speck said Hale has a good grasp of the diverse and sometimes decentralized nature of a major research university. "Don presented some great ideas about how to help such a multi-faceted institution present a coherent message. He is creative and forward thinking, and he will put us at the forefront of university public affairs operations — which is where it should be."

Hale received a degree in communications from Temple University in 1972. He is a member of the board of directors for the Public Relations Society of America, Pittsburgh chapter; and is past president of the College and University Public Relations Association of Pennsylvania and is editor of the association’s newsletter.

He has managed departments and participated in projects that have received more than 50 national and local awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), among others. These include recognition for overall public relations programming and news and information programs as well as involvement in special events and individual publications and electronic media projects.

In addition, Hale was named "Professional of the Year" by CASE District 2 in 1996 and "Communicator of the Year" by the Pittsburgh chapter of the PRSA in 1993. In 1988, he received the Arthur V. Ciervo Award from the College and University Public Relations Association of Pennsylvania (CUPRAP) for "outstanding efforts to advance the cause of higher education in Pennsylvania." CUPRAP named an award for him in 1994 — The Don Hale Award — which is awarded annually to a CUPRAP member for service to the organization.

Note to editors: For photos of Hale, please visit this Web site:
or call Marsha Miller at (512) 471-6412 or email her at marsha@opa.wwh.utexas.edu