Purdue names School of Communication for C-SPAN founder

April 8, 2011

Purdue President France A. Córdova listens to Brian Lamb, C-SPAN founder and CEO, as he moderates the 2008 Global University Convocation at Purdue. The Board of Trustees on Friday (April 8) approved renaming Purdue's Department of Communication the Brian Lamb School of Communication. Lamb earned his bachelor's degree in speech in 1963 and received an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 1986. (Purdue University file photo/Mark Simons)

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INDIANAPOLIS - Purdue University's School of Communication will be named in honor of alumnus and C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb.

"The Brian Lamb School of Communication is to honor one of Purdue's most outstanding alumni and a Lafayette native," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "Brian Lamb's conception of C-SPAN was groundbreaking three decades ago, and he continues to be a leader in public affairs programming. The university has an incredible partnership with Brian, thanks to his interactions with our students today and his selection of Purdue Research Park as the home of the C-SPAN Archives. This naming is an opportunity for Purdue to celebrate Lamb's career as well as encourage today's students to dream big."

The new school, currently the Department of Communication, is housed in the College of Liberal Arts. The naming, which will go into effect July 1, was approved Friday (April 8) by Purdue's Board of Trustees during its meeting on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

"My early interest in broadcasting was nurtured in Lafayette, by high school teachers, by a number of local business people and by professors at Purdue. Likewise, C-SPAN's board of cable executives has always urged our network to be involved with education and young people," said Lamb, C-SPAN chairman and CEO. "This new school deepens C-SPAN's involvement with Purdue students and creates opportunities to encourage new generations of communication majors to take risks and try new things."

Brian Lamb

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Lamb earned his bachelor's degree in speech in 1963 and received an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 1986. He founded C-SPAN - Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network - in 1977, and the network's initial telecasts of the U.S. House of Representatives commenced in 1979. Today there are three C-SPAN networks offering around-the-clock coverage of the political process.

"Purdue's communication program is highly regarded, and the school will continue to focus on the development of high-quality, immersive educational experiences," said Irwin Weiser, the Justin S. Morrill Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. "We are proud that at the school's core, it will emphasize Brian Lamb's values of balance, openness and integrity."

Lamb has long been involved with Purdue and the College of Liberal Arts. In 1987 Lamb designated Purdue as the original home of the C-SPAN Archives, which records, indexes and archives all C-SPAN programming for historical, educational and research uses. Now located in the Purdue Research Park and operated and entirely funded by C-SPAN, the archives records, stores and makes accessible every C-SPAN program aired since 1987, totaling more than 160,000 hours. All programs are digital and can viewed for free at http://www.c-span.org/videolibrary

Robert X. Browning, an associate professor of communication and political science, is the C-SPAN Archives director.

In 2006 Lamb served as moderator for the Richard G. Lugar-Purdue Summit on Energy Security, and in 2008 he served as moderator for the Global University Convocation during the Purdue presidential inauguration. In 2009 he visited the dean of liberal arts' undergraduate class that highlights influential college alumni. This year he has been instrumental in working with Ambassador Carolyn Curiel to organize a class, "Washington D.C. Practicum 2011," for Purdue students in Washington, D.C., said Howard Sypher, the communication professor who currently leads the department and will lead the new school.

"We are very appreciative of Brian Lamb's time and enthusiasm in supporting our students and interacting with our faculty," Sypher said. "At Purdue we are nationally known for our graduate program and research. We think the creation of the Brian Lamb School of Communication will clearly raise the visibility of undergraduate initiatives. We also think the development of this school will provide new opportunities for our students and faculty to build bridges to other programs at Purdue, as well as forge new links with business and the media industry. Obviously, we expect to increase our collaboration with C-SPAN Archives and C-SPAN in Washington."

Purdue's communication program has had six students intern at the company, and 12 current or former C-SPAN employees are Purdue graduates. This summer, Purdue's Silver Twins and real twin sisters, Sara and Chellie Zou, will intern at C-SPAN in Washington, D.C. Sara is studying political science, and Chellie is studying communication. They are from Elkhart, Ind.

Before C-SPAN, Lamb was publisher of The Media Report, Washington bureau chief for CableVision magazine, freelance reporter for United Press International Audio and public affairs officer in the Navy for the Pentagon. Lamb also served as a military social aide for the White House under President Lyndon B. Johnson and as the media and congressional relations director for the Office of Telecommunications Policy during the Richard Nixon Administration.

In 2007 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was named Washingtonian of the Year. In 2003 he was awarded the Freedom of Speech Award, the National Humanities Medal and the Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Award. Purdue's College of Liberal Arts honored him with its Distinguished Alumni Award in 1987.

The Brian Lamb School of Communication is home to 974 undergraduate majors, 120 graduate students and 34 full-time faculty members. The six areas of graduate study and research are health communication; interpersonal communication; media, technology and society; organizational communication; public relations/issue management; and rhetorical studies.

Writer:  Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu 

Sources:   France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                   Irwin Weiser, 765-494-3661, iweiser@purdue.edu

                   Howard Sypher, 765-494-3300, hsypher@purdue.edu

                   Howard Mortman (contact for Brian Lamb), 202-626-6527, hmortman@c-span.org

Related website:
Brian Lamb biography