An enduring effect on students, faculty and her field

Newsom began her faculty career at TCU as a part-time instructor in 1968, while she continued full-time work in public relations and reared four children. After earning her doctorate from the University of Texas in Austin, she became a full-time professor at TCU in 1982.

Students often considered Newsom a tough professor. She was reported to have “joked that students should not be intimidated because she wrote the textbooks for her classes – especially because she only receives 13 cents for each copy sold.”

The same students who were initially intimidated by Newsom’s forceful presence almost always came to see that her high standards for their performance were a reflection of her passion to help them succeed. One graduate wrote in a note of gratitude after learning of her death in 2021, “You know a teacher has had a positive impact on you when his or her lessons last 48 years after their expiration date.”

Dr. Jacque Lambiase, strategic communication professor emerita, said, “Doug served our program and left a legacy to its students in so many ways, first and foremost in her integrated approach to teaching public relations and advertising. We are still delivering on this innovation, which was not popular with other academics in the 1980s and 1990s. Our current faculty showcases the entire toolbox of strategic communication, with an emphasis on ethics and global strategies. This global and ethical framework was always important to Doug.”

Among her books used in those TCU classes were This Is PR: The Realities of Public Relations, first published in 1976, Public Relations Writing: Form and Style, and Bridging the Gaps in Global Communication. She once told a student reporter for The Skiff newspaper that she dedicated all her books to her students, because they held her hope for the future.

Newsom helped create and lead a study abroad program for strategic communication majors that continues today. She was a Fulbright lecturer, once in India and once in Singapore. She also gave workshops on crisis communication and global public relations in such countries as Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, South Africa and the South Pacific’s Vanuatu islands.

Newsom’s impact on students, academics and professionals reached around the world, according to Dr. Julie O’Neil, professor of strategic communication. O’Neil said, “She put TCU on the global map for her scholarship and her leadership. When people learned that I work at TCU, they would immediately ask about Doug. She was legendary. I am honored that I had an opportunity to work and learn from her.”

Dr. Doug Newsom retired from TCU in 2009.

Honoring a lifetime of service

One of the ways in which Newsom put TCU on the map occurred in 1985. She became the first public relations educator and only the second woman in more than 70 years to serve as president of the world’s largest organization for media and communication professors and programs, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). She also served as head of AEJMC’s public relations division, which in 2015 created the Doug Newsom Award to honor the scholar who produced the year’s top research paper about global ethics or global diversity in public relations.

Chancellor Moudy and Taylor Publisher's Bob Lynch congratulate David Stinson, editor of the 1971 Horned Frog, winner of the 1972 Graphic Arts Awards Competition, and Doug Newsom, the yearbook's faculty adviser.

“Public relations has been my career path for as long as I can remember. Many colleagues guided that path and offered advice and wise counsel,” Newsom said at the time.

“Doing the same for others is what I try to do through LinkedIn, articles, textbooks and during conferences. My mantra at TCU was ‘the most important part of your education was learning how to learn.’”

Newsom founded the Public Relations Society of America chapter of the Greater Fort Worth area and served as president of the North Texas and Greater Fort Worth Chapters of PRSA, the Southwest Education Council for Journalism/Mass Communication, and the Fort Worth Chapter of Women in Communications, Inc.

She received the Texas Public Relations Foundation’s Golden Spur Award and Educator of the Year Award, the Association of Women in Communications National Headliner Award, and in 1982, was the first woman to receive PRSA’s Educator of the Year Award. In 2016, she received PRSA’s Gold Anvil Award, the organization’s highest honor.

Photo credit: Albert Chau

In 2019, the Greater Fort Worth chapter of PRSA created the Douglas Ann Newsom PRSA Professional of the Year Award to recognize those who have led and contributed to the advancement of public relations.

A legacy living on

TCU’s Douglas Ann Newsom Endowed Scholarship was created in honor of this remarkable professor’s legacy. Thanks to Newsom’s own contributions to the endowment, as well as the many contributions of her former students and colleagues, the scholarship has grown large enough that four strategic communication students receive support from it each academic year.