Larry L. Burriss

Dr. Long,

Thank you for your recent e-mail about the Human Relations program. I graduated in 1978 after having attended the program at Andersen AFB, Guam. Although it has been more than few years I can honestly say I still use the material and information I learned in the program.

Program Outcomes

I believe the most significant educational outcome I received was the development of a philosophical outlook that combines an appreciation of the need to set goals and "get the job done," with an understanding of the "humanness" involved in any professional or social relationship. Although the world is becoming more and more technologically-based, organizations at all levels should still be people-centered and oriented. Thus my human relations degree provides both technical skills and theoretical perspectives, as well as the human touch so essential in our fast-paced and ever-changing world.

Fortunately, I have been able to apply this Weltanschauung, this world view, to the various leadership positions I have had the honor to hold. These positions have included service to the University as department chairman, school director and dean, as well as service on numerous and varied University committees.

Even in my highly goal-directed Air Force career there was still a need to consider the humanness of our actions. In numerous training situations it was imperative to help students understand they would be leading people, not robots.

In my academic life I feel my major goal should be to help students, constituents and co-workers understand the social, political, economic and legal freedoms, responsibilities and limitations of our various organizations; to help them understand the process of accomplishment itself (what we might call "meta-accomplishment"); to understand that all organizations at all levels are an interrelated system, not a group of freestanding activities; and finally, to understand our various roles as part of a democratic society.

It is obvious American society is going through a time of tremendous changes in both philosophies and pragmatics. Such changes can serve as either a catalyst for progress and improvement, or as an excuse for retrenchment and stagnation. I, for one, favor progress and improvement.

It is my belief that part of any job is getting the job done. As my favorite philosopher, Yoda, once said, "Do or do not. There is no 'try'."

Biography and Background

I am currently a tenured full professor in the school of journalism at Middle Tennessee State University. During my 35+ years at MTSU I served on the Tennessee Board of Regents, as president of the MTSU Faculty Senate, dean of the college of mass communication (now the college of media & entertainment), and director of the school of journalism.

I received my bachelor’s (broadcast journalism) and master’s (journalism) degrees from The Ohio State University in 1971 and 1972. I received my human relations master’s degree in 1978.

In 1983 I received my Ph.D. in communication from Ohio University, where I minored in law, and subsequently earned a law degree through the Concord Law School.

I am particularly interested in issues dealing with government-media relations, and among the several courses I have developed and taught is “Mass Media and National Security” which explores the historical, legal and reportorial relationships between various forms of mass media and the national security establishment.

In 1995 I developed one of the nation's first totally on-line courses when I converted my media law class to an all-Internet format.

I have worked in both print and broadcast news, and in public relations, and have published extensively in professional research journals, as well as in popular magazines. For the last 30 years I have researched, written and voiced a weekly media commentary for WMOT-FM, which won first place in the Tennessee Associated Press Broadcast competition nine times.

I was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, where I was the director of public affairs at Dyess AFB, Texas; Andersen AFB, Guam; and Berry Field ANGB, Tennessee. I also served in various assignments in the Pentagon, Mali, Bosnia, Somalia, Guantanamo Bay, Central America, England and Germany.

Larry L. Burriss, Ph.D., J.D.


School of Journalism

Middle Tennessee State University