UT eliminates Public Affairs office as part of budget cuts

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Budget cuts have forced UT to eliminate its Public Affairs office and let Don Hale go — the vice president of the office for the past 10 years.

All public affairs employees in 14 colleges and schools will keep their job, except for Hale, who will stay with the University until the fall before moving on.

“When former President Larry Faulkner brought me to the University about 10 years ago he wanted me to build the first comprehensive public affairs operation in the University’s history, and he wanted the operation to be recognized among the very best in higher education. We have achieved Dr. Faulkner’s vision,” Hale said in a statement.

Faulkner said his experience with Hale has been extremely valuable over the years. He said public affairs is an important job because the University has to continuously communicate with wide range of constituents.

“Having the capability to do that well is very important to the institution and its ability to carry out its job,” Faulkner said.

Gary Susswein, former spokesman for College of Liberal Arts, has assumed responsibilities as the director of media relations under the new Office of University Communications.

“We will no longer have an Office of Public Affairs,” Susswein said. “Much of the office has gone into Development and the rest will be part of the new University Communications office.”

Susswein said the Office of Public Affairs oversaw event planning, media relations and production of flyers and pamphlets. Some public affairs employees worked in those capacities under the Development Office and will continue to work there, he said.

“Office of University Communications will handle brand strategies, media relations and oversee content of our websites and media portals,” Susswein said.