The late Dr. George Esper was world renowned for reporting on some of the biggest news stories in history, but by his own admission, one of his greatest achievements was mentoring young journalists.

Now Esper’s legacy as a foreign correspondent will live on at the WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism thanks to the generosity of another distinguished WVU alumnus, Joe Steranka. Steranka, CEO of The Professional Golfers’ Association of America and a 1979 graduate of the School of Journalism, endowed the George Esper International Student Enhancement Fund in June. The Fund will support students participating in study-abroad or faculty-led international trips.

Steranka, who has helped lead the international development of golf while at the PGA, views the fund as a catalyst for SOJ students to gain global professional experience.

“Now more than ever, business and communication are linked globally,” Steranka said. “The educational and social experiences during international study by our students will prove invaluable. I know George would be very excited that his work has inspired similar exploration which this Fund will support.”

Esper, a 1953 WVU alumnus, was the School’s first Ogden Newspapers Visiting Professor. He began his journalism career as a student writing for The Daily Athenaeum and his hometown newspaper, the Morning Herald, in Uniontown, Pa. He went on to work with the Associated Press for 42 years, 10 of which he spent covering the Vietnam War.

Two additional School of Journalism scholarships were also recently established. The Brown Communications LLC School of Journalism Scholarship and the Robert and Luanne Kittle School of Journalism Scholarship.

John H. Brown, a 1968 alumnus, and his son C. Bryan Brown, a 1994 alumnus, say the solid education they received at the School of Journalism has enabled them to meet the complex challenges of providing top-notch communications consulting to their clients.

“I hope our gift encourages others who have similarly reaped the benefits of a P.I. Reed School of Journalism education to consider giving so that this incredible educational experience will endure.” said John Brown.

John Brown is the owner of Brown Communications LLC, a public relations consulting company in Charleston, W.Va. Before establishing his own firm in 1995, Brown served as West Virginia’s Commissioner of Commerce, was a partner at Charles Ryan and Associates, was director of community affairs for the state’s largest health care institution, Charleston Area Medical Center, and worked as a communications consultant to Gov. Cecil Underwood.

Bryan Brown is vice president of Brown Communications LLC. Prior to joining Brown Communications, he worked for the West Virginia Development Office where he was responsible for marketing state and federally sponsored programs, including the Governor’s Guaranteed Workforce Program, the Local Economic Development Grant Program and Certified Development Community Program.

Robert Kittle, a 1975 alumnus, says he could not have attended WVU without the student financial aid he received.

“My wife Luanne and I both believe that education is the catalyst to success not only for individuals but for whole societies as well,” Kittle said. “We are proud to support the School of Journalism’s contributions to an educated society.”

Kittle was editor-in-chief of the Daily Athenaeum from 1974-75. After graduation, he joined The Charleston Daily Mail, ultimately becoming the paper’s first Washington, D.C., bureau chief. He later served as Pentagon, congressional and White House correspondent for U.S. News & World Report before joining The San Diego Union as editorial page editor, a post he held for more than two decades. During that time he was a periodic political commentator on “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and other network news programs. His wife, Luanne, is a veteran educator who directed the successful and innovative Rhoades School for gifted children in Encinitas, Calif.

School of Journalism Dean Maryanne Reed says such funds enable students to succeed.

“Our School of Journalism alumni and friends continue to show their support by creating valuable opportunities for our students to learn, to engage in high-profile internships and to study abroad,” said Reed. “We’re grateful for their contributions and their desire to help the next generation of journalists and professional communicators.”

Those interested in contributing to the George Esper International Student Enhancement Fund or establishing a student scholarship at the School of Journalism may contact Director of Development Luella Gunter at or visit the School’s website at

The gifts were made to the WVU Foundation as part of A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University, a $750 million fundraising effort the Foundation is conducting on behalf of the University.


cv 7/31/12

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CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, School of Journalism