Crisis Response? Auburn University’s Struggles with Diversity

By Brigitta R. Brunner and Mary Helen Brown.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In this paper, we use case study techniques to examine how Auburn University handled its diversity efforts in terms of its publicly stated goals and how these goals may not have reflected the actual events and goals being pursued.
Specifically, we are interested in answering the following question: How well do Auburn University’s official goals, as expressed in formal documents and public relations efforts match its operative behaviors? The investigators combed institutional and newspaper archives to gather documents, newspaper accounts, memos, reports, and announcements related to the university’s
diversity issues and initiatives from October 2001 to July 2008. In addition, these same types of artifacts were collected to determine campus and community reactions to the university’s official goals and public relations efforts
toward diversity. This paper will examine Auburn’s official goals toward diversity in light of actual behaviors taken in four cases: The Halloween Incident, The Diversity Plan, The Richardson Years, and The Fisher Report.

Keywords: Diversity, University, Crisis

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp.221-230. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 630.333KB).

Dr. Brigitta R. Brunner

Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Journalism, Auburn University, AL, USA

Dr. Brigitta R. Brunner is an associate professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism at Auburn University. She has been on faculty at Auburn since 2002 and teaches public relations courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Brunner earned her BA in marketing communications at Juniata College (1993), her MA in communication at Auburn University (1995) and her PhD in mass communication with a concentration in public relations at the University of Florida (2000). Brunner’s research focuses on public relations and diversity issues. She has published in various communication journals including the Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Review, Public Relations Quarterly, The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication and the Journal of Communication Management.

Dr. Mary Helen Brown

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Communication and Journalism, Auburn University, AL, USA

Mary Helen Brown. Ph.D. (University of Texas at Austin), is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication and Journalism at Auburn University. Her special areas of interest are organizational communication, storytelling, and sense making.


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