Reagan’s director of media relations to speak at Baylor

By Alyssa Maxwell

The director of media relations at the White House during President Ronald Reagan’s term, Merrie Spaeth, will speak on the importance of communication skills this Thursday on campus and at the Mayborn Museum.

“[She will] help students to stop and think about how we communicate both good and bad,” said Lois Ferguson, co-chair of the Baylor Round Table.

The Baylor Round Table is a women’s group on campus composed of faculty women and administrators and the wives of faculty and administrators. Members are dedicated to promoting the social and cultural life of Baylor University.

The organization generally looks on campus for speakers, but once or twice a year branches out to speakers off campus, such as Spaeth.

Alice Starr, co-chair of the Baylor Round Table, became friends with Spaeth while in Washington, D.C., and was able to get Spaeth as a speaker for Baylor.

Kathy Hillman, associate professor and director of special collections for Baylor Libraries, held a conference call between Spaeth and Ferguson.

“I don’t know when I’ve ever been so impressed,” Hillman said in reference to Spaeth’s communication skills. “[She] certainly communicated well.”

Spaeth, an adjunct professor in the Business Leadership Center at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, is a pioneer in communication theory and executive training.

Her background spans media, government, politics, business and the entertainment industry.

She served as a White House Fellow in the early 1980s and was assigned to FBI Director William Webster.

Before working in Washington she was a radio and television talk show host and a producer for ABC’s 20/20.

Spaeth was also a reporter and writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Daily News, Family Weekly and many other magazines and newspapers.

In the entertainment field, Spaeth was honored as part of “Filmdom’s Famous Five” in the 1960s for her achievements as an actress in television and film.

Her best known work is “The World of Henry Orient.” Later she became speechwriter for the chairman of CBS, William S. Paley.

Spaeth will lecture on “Caring How We Communicate” and the “Dos, Don’ts and Trends in the YouTube Age: The Most Common Mistakes and Why Storytelling is Part of Leadership and Other Critical Skills.”

Spaeth’s lectures at Baylor will help students understand how to communicate better in general, and when in crisis.

“Anyone who’s a leader has to communicate orally,” Hillman said.

Spaeth will speak to undergraduate students at 11 a.m. Thursday in 245 Castellaw Communications Center, to Master’s of Business Administration students at 2 p.m. in 303 Cashion Academic Center, and to the Baylor Round Table and special guests at 4 p.m. in the Mayborn Museum.