Grady College celebrates retiring faculty Karen King and Leara Rhodes

Grady College celebrates retiring faculty Karen King and Leara Rhodes

May 28, 2020

Grady College proudly recognizes faculty members Karen King and Leara Rhodes as they embark on retirement.

Karen King, a Jim Kennedy New Media Professor, specialized in advertising media and campaigns. She began teaching at Grady College in 1985 and served two stints as advertising and public relations department head. King’s research centers around health communications and advertising industry issues.

Karen King (center front) and their campaigns students at the AAF competition in 1999 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo: submitted)

Prior to Grady College, King worked as a media planner, research supervisor for FCB Communications, Inc. in Chicago  and visiting researcher for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She earned her bachelor’s, graduate, and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana.

King recently established the Karen W. and Daniel J. King Distinguished Professorship in Advertising.

“Karen King’s contributions to the college span decades, and scores of students who have told me personally that she changed their lives,” said Charles Davis, Grady College dean. “I can’t tell you how many times an alum has written me or stopped me at a Grady event to tell me that Dr. King was “their” professor, that one who they stayed in touch with through the years, who they called with big news, and who helped shape their careers.”

Multiple generations of students have had opportunities in the advertising field because of Karen King’s dedication to connection current students to advertising industry professionals.

Some of King’s students, along with current and former colleagues, join in the celebration after she assumed the role of president of the AAA. King is seated in the front row. (Contributed photo)

“As much as I feel a part of Grady College and the University of Georgia, Dr. King feels a part of the Delta family,” said Tim Mapes (ABJ ’86), senior vice president and chief marketing & communications officer for Delta. “Dr. King has interacted with countless members of our advertising and corporate communications teams during student-led campaigns competitions and she embodies the open-minded, engaged, empathetic qualities we seek in our leaders here at Delta.  Not a day goes by at Delta in Atlanta that I do not draw upon my experiences in Athens.  In fact, I like to say that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us in leading Delta.  Dr. King’s shoulders provided me with an unshakeable foundation on which to build our brand and the communications that support it.”

Karen King connects students to professionals. Here, she welcomes Marni Shapirio (ABJ ’96) back to Grady for the Kennedy Symposium.

King has been a Lilly Teaching Fellow and is a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, UGA’s highest teaching honor, among other honors during her time at UGA.

“Karen King has been a strong voice to keep our advertising program a leader in the field,” said Bryan Reber, C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership and department head of advertising and public relations. “In addition to being a great media strategy and campaigns teacher she has been a proponent of, and often volunteers to lead, extracurricular enrichment programs.  Such programs give students a competitive edge entering the profession. It seems her devotion to the advertising profession, advertising education, and the University of Georgia advertising major really knows no bounds.”

King has served in leadership roles in a variety of national advertising organizations including president of the American Academy of Advertising.

“Instead of writing some long, fawning quote about Dr. King, just imagine me hoisting her up on my shoulders, handing her twenty dozen long stem roses and then parading up and down Broad Street with tears streaming down my face,” said Jason Kreher (ABJ ’00), creative director for entertainment and editorial at Wieden + Kennedy. “That should give you a pretty accurate picture of how I feel about her retirement.”

King begins retirement August 1, 2020.

Leara Rhodes (ABJ ’72), associate professor of journalism, retires from Grady College after 26 years as a faculty member. She focused her instruction on magazine writing, management and design.

Leara Rhodes celebrates with Michaela Patafio (AB ’18) at senior sendoff in 2018. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman/Grady College)

Rhodes was a freelance writer with published articles in many prominent magazines and newspapers. She also wrote for some of the nation’s largest businesses including Coca-Cola and Cox Communications. Rhodes authored three books including the latest, “Peace through Media.” She earned her bachelor’s degree from Grady College. Her master’s and doctoral degrees were completed at Temple University.

“Leara Rhodes, to many Grady students, is the face of narrative writing and of the world of magazines,” said Davis. “An eloquent, masterful wordsmith, her professional acumen and high standards help keep Grady journalism graduates at the top of their game. Leara’s selfless commitment to the college can be seen in so many facets of the program, from her advanced editing and production courses to her leadership in advancing issues of diversity and inclusion.”

One of Rhodes’ primary interests is the role media plays in societal development. She worked extensively in the Caribbean as a guiding resource for media outlets in the region. Recently, Rhodes launched “Caribbean Voices,” a podcast exploring the lifestyles and traditions of the Caribbean Basin.

Rhodes and students outside of Grady College in 2015.

“I can’t imagine the Journalism Department or Grady College without Leara Rhodes,” said Janice Hume, Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for excellence in journalism and journalism department head. “She taught experiential classes long before it was trendy, launching more than 40 magazines in her classes. She mentored so many writing students who have gone on to successful magazine careers. Her research earned her the Haitian Studies Association’s Award for Service presented to those who contribute beyond the usual to the Haitian community. She has been a wonderful colleague. We will miss her, but wish her wonderful adventures to come.”

Former students say Rhodes became a mentor to them through the writing process and publication development.

“It’s hard for me to put into words the impact that Dr. Leara Rhodes has had on my life,” said Ramsey Nix (ABJ ’99, MA ’06), freelance writer and part time instructor at Grady College. “She continues to erect signposts at pivotal points in my journey. She creates connections. She opens doors. Leara has defined the role of mentor for me.”

Rhodes has published three books in addition to her many published articles.
(Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Rhodes was the Journalism Teacher of the Year at Grady College in 2006. She was awarded the first UGA diversity award for advancing UGA’s mission of diversity. In 2004, Rhodes received the Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship from the National Conference of Editorial writers for work in attracting minority students. Rhodes was also a 2007-08 UGA Service Learning Fellow. She has used her experience and knowledge to help students work cohesively in the creation of new publications.

“Her mentorship taught me so much about how a publication works, how to edit stories and work with writers, how to lead a team, and about health communication as a field,” said Aashka Dave (ABJ ’15), Researcher/Community Manager for the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab. “Dr. Rhodes is so invested in her students, and I know other Grady classmates of mine feel similarly about the impact she had on our educations.”

Rhodes begins retirement June 1, 2020.