NORMAN — A $1 million gift to the University of Oklahoma will establish a journalism chair in honor of longtime OU staff member Paul Massad.
The Paul D. Massad Chair in Strategic Communication in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication will continue Massad's more than half century legacy at OU, said President David L. Boren, who announced the gift Thursday at the OU Board of Regents meeting.
The gift from Will and Helen Webster, of Altadena, Calif., was a birthday present to Massad, who turned 76 in November.
“What an incredible surprise. Will and Helen Webster are such special and close friends. The Websters are generous supporters of OU, and I am personally so deeply touched by their gift, which will forever benefit the university and its students,” Massad said in a written statement.
Massad, who earned his bachelor's degree in journalism in 1960, is senior vice president for University Development and director of Major Gifts at OU. He began his professional career during his senior year at OU, working in the Extension Division, now OU Outreach.
He went on to recruit students as director of High School and College Relations and kept them connected to their alma mater as the chief executive of OU's Alumni Association. In 1990, he was promoted to associate vice president for University Affairs and executive director of Alumni Affairs. In 2000, he moved to University Development, where his longtime relationships with OU alumni have made him one of OU's most successful fundraisers.
Private gifts to establish endowed faculty chairs and professorships are important to recruiting, retaining and rewarding outstanding faculty, Boren said.
Because of private support, the number of endowed faculty positions at OU has increased from 100 to 578 in the past 19 years.
Gaylord College Dean Joe Foote said Massad was “a living legend … his life's work at OU represents the values and competencies that we want our students to embrace. We are a far better program because of Paul Massad's nearly 60-year association with us.”