Dudley steps down from PR post
by Andrew Shurtleff
Dudley, U.Va.s spokeswoman for the past 12 years, stands
in front of Pavilion VIII, where she worked as a young writer
when she joined the University for the first time
By Anne Bromley
many people would have the courage to take up running at 60. Louise
Dudley did. Nor would many contemplate signing up for a Latin
course when they retire. But Louise Dudley plans to.
of these endeavors reflect what many at the University have come
to know as Dudleys trademarks
speed and a desire to learn new things. Add to that her
reputation for honesty and evenhandedness with the news media
and you begin to get the picture of who she is.
years of working with Louise on both easy and tough stories I
can say this about her she knew her stuff, said Carlos
Santos of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. And when she didnt
know the answer, she knew who did. She was good on deadline. It
was hard to get her flustered. She was accurate. She was too careful
to speak in colorful quotes, but she had a vast knowledge of the
workings of U.Va. and especially of the Board
of Visitors. She made my job easier, and Ill miss her.
held what he considers the ultimate compliment until last. I
could hardly tell when she was spinning a story.
U.Va. spokeswoman and assistant vice president for University
Relations, Dudley has for the past dozen years served as the
face, voice, and sometimes the heart, of the institution. She
is the person on the evening news and in the morning paper explaining,
confirming, and telling it like it is.
every situation, and this is especially true in crisis situations,
Louise brings a calm, level-headed approach, and is able to provide
University leaders with appropriate, thoughtful analysis,
said Robert Sweeney, senior vice president for University development
and public affairs and the person to whom Dudley reports.
the end of December, Dudley, who turns 63 in January, will leave
the University to throw herself into the next phase of her life
no doubt with the same vigor with which she has carried
out her career here.
her attention are two young grandchildren, a husband eager to
get her out on the golf course, stacks and stacks of books, and
many miles of Charlottesville pavement still to be run.
joined the University the first time in 1964 as a writer, and
the second time 25 years later as director of News Services when
husband Earl joined the Law School faculty. In between, she raised
two children a son who teaches philosophy at Williams College
and a daughter whos tops in her Georgetown University law
school class and became an editor of educational journals.
Two years after rejoining the University community she became
director of University Relations.
then she has worked closely with nearly every member of U.Va.s
community, serving on dozens of committees, chairing many of them,
and acting as an unofficial source of all things large and small
about U.Va. One would not want to play a game of University Trivial
Pursuit with Dudley, who has a steel-trap mind for facts and figures.
the past decade, she has forged trusting relationships with untold
numbers of people, perhaps the most important ones with University
T. Casteen III and Leonard W. Sandridge, executive
vice president and chief operating officer.
brought principled, judicious, and energetic leadership to one
of our most important activities--telling the University's story
to the public and providing forthright, timely responses when
questions are asked--and in the process taught valuable lessons
to all who serve the University, said President John T.
Casteen III. She has been our best ambassador in good and
bad times. Always, she has spoken for the importance of the University's
purpose and for the democratic premise that brought it into existence.
Sandridge, to whom Dudley reported for more than 10 years, When
I have a controversial issue or a crisis, I always rely on Louise,
not only because she handles the Universitys communications
superbly, but also because I trust her judgment, learn from her
advice and respect her as a person. The media and the local community
depend on her views and opinions.
he did not say is that Dudley also taught him how to be a crackerjack
while she was coaching him, she said, Sandridge was coaching her
on how to handle tough situations with a steady grace. Leonard
has been a great mentor. I got to watch him closely and observe
how he deals with issues and people, Dudley said. Bill
Fishback (also a former boss) was another who by example prepared
me for things to come.
things have included the collapse of a Lawn pavilion
balcony during graduation and the near-fatal accident of actor
Christopher Reeve to the visit of former Soviet Union President
Mikhail Gorbachev and intense media scrutiny of the Honor System.
All of which Dudley handled with customary calm and candor.
has passed on these skills to others, coaching her staff, student
leaders and faculty members scheduled to speak with national media
on all sorts of controversial issues, giving them the benefit
of her experience, sound advice and gentle reassurance.
of what we do [in University Relations] is also part of U.Va.s
academic mission to educate, Dudley said. Our
mission is to help create goodwill for the University by helping
people understand what we do.
was this outlook and all the University-wide outreach that
Dudley has done over the years that led to her receiving
the Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award last year.
Fishback, her now-retired predecessor, hired her as news director,
he said it was an easy decision. They had worked together two
decades earlier when Earl Dudley was a law student. At that time,
it was Dudley who, as a young staff writer, welcomed Fishback
as her new boss and immediately took on the role of teaching him
trained me, and I learned a lot, said Fishback with a chuckle.
Even though she was quite young, Louise was highly regarded,
and she still is.
said the institutional values that have guided her were in place
here when she returned.
tell the truth
and try to be forthright, she said.
Its important to recognize that reporters have a job
to do, and getting out accurate information is essential.
who knows Dudley well knows how deep her loyalty and love for
the University run.
of the things Ive loved about my job is the element of surprise.
Even though I came in on any given day thinking I knew what Id
be doing, it almost never turned out that way, Dudley said.
And as a result, Ive learned about how to patch Astroturf,
the per-bed cost of building a dormitory, the rules for protecting
human subjects in research or for investigating cemeteries
on public property
The sheer range of activity at the University
and all the great people who make it happen are what Im
going to miss the most.