University of Tennessee, Knoxville, alumnus Larry Patrick has given $1 million to the College of Communication and Information, the largest single cash gift in the college’s history, to establish a distinguished professorship to honor a longtime professor and administrator. Patrick also increased his estate gift to the college to $5 million.
The initial $1 million will establish the Herb Howard Distinguished Professorship in Media Management and Law, named for Journalism and Electronic Media Professor Emeritus Herb Howard. At some point in the future, this gift will be combined with Patrick’s $5 million estate gift to replace the distinguished professorship with an endowed chair, also honoring Howard.
A native of Johnson City, Tenn., Howard began his broadcasting career while in high school as an announcer for local radio station WJHL, where he later became the station’s program director. In 1953 he signed WJHL-TV on the air and was the television station’s first weatherman.
Howard then entered academia, earning his doctorate in mass communication at Ohio University before joining the UT faculty and teaching courses in broadcasting, journalism and communications research. He became noted for his academic work on television station ownership and management, and served as a research consultant for the National Association of Broadcasters. The Broadcast Education Association presented him with its Distinguished Educational Service Award in 2000, and he received a Chancellor’s Citation for Extraordinary Service to the University from UT in 1998.
Howard also served as the college’s associate dean for graduate studies and research, and he twice served as acting dean of the college. He retired from UT in 1999 but continues to lend his distinctive voice to the airwaves as a volunteer announcer for WEPT-TV, Knoxville’s viewer-supported public television station.
Patrick graduated from the college in 1973 with a master’s degree in communications, and went on to earn a doctorate in communications and management at Ohio University and a law degree from Georgetown University. He is a member and former chair of the college’s Board of Visitors and has received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012, the highest honor given to alumni, and the college’s Donald G. Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995.
As managing partner of Patrick Communications LLC, he has handled hundreds of radio and television broadcasting deals totaling more than $7.5 billion during his career. A preeminent broadcast industry restructuring expert, Patrick is the Internal Revenue Service’s appraiser of choice for broadcast valuations.
“I am honored to be recognized for my efforts to create a legacy gift to the university,” Patrick said. “My desire to honor Herb Howard reflects his lifetime of service to the university, and serves as a thanks from one of the many students who benefited by having Dr. Howard as a teacher. UT is a very special place to me and I am fortunate to repay all that UT did for me with this gift.”
“We are very grateful to Larry Patrick for making this remarkable gift,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “His decision to establish this distinguished professorship will have a transformational impact on the college as we build on the legacy of excellence established by Dr. Howard on our journey toward the Top 25.”
To recognize Patrick for his generous support, the college will name its auditorium the Patrick Auditorium during its fall Board of Visitors meeting Nov. 8. The video from the event is available at
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