Veteran Georgia journalist Otis A. Brumby Jr. of Marietta is making a major gift to the university to establish a professorship in First Amendment law.
Brumby, publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal and Neighbor Newspapers, will give $500,000 to create the position, which will be shared by the School of Law and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
It will be the first faculty position at UGA devoted specifically to teaching and research about the First Amendment, the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press in America.
Brumby, who graduated from the law school, says he is creating the professorship to help law and journalism students better understand the importance of First Amendment guarantees-and to convey that understanding to the public.
“After a 40-year newspaper career, I am constantly reminded how many of our citizens regard freedom of information laws as special interest legislation for the media and not derived from our First Amendment guarantees,” Brumby says.
“I hope this professorship will help future law students and journalists and those they influence to better understand why we should always be a grateful and vigilant nation on First Amendment issues.”
President Michael F. Adams says the gift will enable the university to focus expertise on a complex but critical issue in America.
“The principles embodied in the First Amendment are fundamental to democracy, and it’s essential that citizens appreciate both the legal basis of these freedoms and how they impact our lives every day,” Adams says. “Otis Brumby is a valued friend and alumnus of this university, and we’re grateful he is helping bolster our leadership in explaining, protecting and strengthening First Amendment rights.”
Brumby heads a company that publishes two daily newspapers and 28 community newspapers in 11 metropolitan counties.
A member of the Cobb and Georgia Bar Associations, he is a past president of the Georgia Press Association, past chair of the National Newspaper Association and was a director of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association. He has been on the journalism college’s board of advisors and is a trustee of the UGA Foundation.
He served as chair of the State Board of Education and has also been on the board of the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Both the law and journalism schools at UGA teach First Amendment law as part of other courses, and the two deans-Rebecca White, interim dean of law, and John Soloski, journalism dean-agree that the professorship will allow a more focused emphasis on the topic. The professorship will be held by a nationally known scholar whose teaching and research will enhance curricula in both schools, they say.
“This professorship will foster collaborative work between these two outstanding units and allow us to provide a richer curriculum in this critically important area of Constitutional law,” says White. “It will expose law students and Grady graduate students to a deeper understanding of First Amendment issues and the implications those issues have for our society.”
Soloski calls Brumby “a champion of freedom of the press and open access to government information in Georgia. His generous donation will ensure that law and journalism students will be well schooled in the First Amendment of the Constitution, and it also cements a relationship between two of the very best programs in the country.”