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Stanford Report, July 10, 2002

University appoints vice president for public affairs

Gordon Earle, a veteran communications professional and former award-winning reporter and senior producer with "The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour," has been named vice president for public affairs, President John Hennessy announced June 20th.

Until recently, Earle headed his own communications firm and worked with clients that included Reuters, ATT Wireless, IBM and SFX Entertainment (now Clear Channel Communications). He also worked with government and academic institutions, including the Reuters Forum at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, the Head Injury Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the government of the British Virgin Islands. Earle also served as a managing partner at DW Integrated and held senior executive positions at GCI Group and Hill and Knowlton.

Earle is familiar with Stanford, having spent the 1988-89 academic year at the university as a John S. Knight Fellow, a highly selective fellowship awarded to mid-career journalists. The fellowship marked his return to the Bay Area. Earle spent his teenage years in Portola Valley and attended Woodside High School.

As Stanford's senior public affairs official, Earle will direct the university's relations with government agencies, coordinate Stanford's initiatives in community relations, and oversee communications, media relations and university events. He will report to Hennessy.

"Gordon is an ideal fit for this critical new position," Hennessy said. "He brings extensive experience in journalism and communications to Stanford, combined with a knowledge of the local community. As a former Knight Fellow, he has a feel for Stanford's mission and culture, and I am extremely pleased he has agreed to take on this new challenge."

Earle, who will formally assume the position in August, said he was eager to begin working on the many issues facing the university, particularly in the area of community relations. His first official act was to announce that Stanford's "Community Day," a daylong open house inaugurated this spring, will return in April 2003.

"In creating Community Day, Stanford engaged its neighbors in a dialogue and showcased some of the intellectual, cultural and recreational richness of campus life," he said. "This event represents an important step in strengthening the university's ties to the local community. I hope this will be one hallmark of my tenure -- a growing sense of partnership and shared values between Stanford and the many individuals and groups that care deeply about the future of our community."

Isaac Stein, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said the university and the board would benefit from Earle's broad range of experience.

"Gordon's ability to set a thoughtful and strategic public affairs agenda will be an important resource for Stanford," Stein said. "The trustees look forward to working with him as we set priorities and articulate the goals of the university."

During his seven years at PBS, Earle primarily covered economic, business and financial news. He also supervised programming that won a George Foster Peabody Award for a seven-part series on Japan's economy. His other honors included a Distinguished Urban Journalism Award and a citation for reporting excellence from the American Bar Association. Since leaving the NewsHour, Earle has served as an adjunct instructor and consultant to the Reuters Forum, a course offered by Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. He also serves as a juror for Columbia's Knight-Bagehot Fellowship Program.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Williams College, Earle also holds a master's degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Earle was recommended to Hennessy by a nine-member search committee chaired by the university's general counsel, Debra Zumwalt. Other members of the committee were: Harvey Cohen, chair of the Department of Pediatrics; Jeffrey Koseff,  professor of civil and environmental engineering and senior associate dean for faculty affairs; Jim Bettinger, director of the Knight Fellowships program; Susan Orr, member of the Board of Trustees; John Freidenrich, chair of the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Board of Directors and former chair of the Board of Trustees; and Jeff Wachtel, senior assistant to the president.

Photo: L.A. Cicero