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January 10, 2011

Chester “Chet” Burger Honored on 90th Birthday With Scholarship Created By Three Leading Public Relations Organizations

The PRSA Foundation Joins With the Arthur W. Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations In Recognizing Industry Legend
(Jan.  10, 2011) — The PRSA Foundation announced today that is it partnering with the Arthur W. Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) to provide the initial grants to establish the Chester Burger Scholarship for Excellence in Public Relations. The fund, which will award scholarships to graduate students in public relations beginning next fall, honors the achievement and leadership of Chester “Chet” Burger, one of America’s leading and most honored public relations counselors. 
The founding donors of the fund emphasized that Burger has long been considered one of the pre-eminent leaders in the public relations profession, literally shaping the discipline of public relations counseling at major global corporations, and is also revered for his personal dedication to generations of colleagues. 
"Chet is the only person to have received the Institute for Public Relation’s Hamilton Medal for lifetime service and delivered our annual Distinguished Lecture — on the same evening," said Robert Grupp, IPR president. “His message that night reinforced how essential it is for public relations professionals to pursue truth and credibility in an era of disbelief. How fitting it is to again honor Chet — a true thought leader — on his 90th birthday."

Arthur W. Page Society President Julia Hood said that Burger, who received the Page Society's Hall of Fame Award in 1992, represents the “highest standards” of the profession.
“His influence has extended across the industry and its leading organizations,” Hood said. “The Page Society is proud to team up with our IPR and the PRSA Foundation in honoring him in this way.”
Debbie Mason, APR, Fellow PRSA, president of the PRSA Foundation Board of Trustees, said “As the founding chair of The College of Fellows, Chet Burger has helped PRSA establish the highest standards of ethics and professionalism. But what I believe he will most be remembered for is his personal support for literally hundreds of individuals throughout their careers.  Chet provided counsel, advice and inspiration to generation after generation of public relations people and in doing so, literally shaped the way our profession has evolved.”
Pledges to the scholarship fund may be made to the PRSA Foundation by contacting Philip Bonaventura.

Burger’s career has been one of legendary proportions, from being the country’s first TV news reporter for the fledgling CBS network, to providing public relations counsel to America’s leading corporations. Burger, who was honored by the U.S. Information Agency with its award “For Outstanding Service to the United States” in 1995, was instrumental in establishing public relations as a management discipline and integral part of the policymaking process of well-managed corporations. His insights and counsel were greatly prized by the owners and senior executives of public relations agencies small and large, earning him a title, “the counselors’ counselor.”
Burger joined the Columbia Broadcasting System in 1941 as a page boy. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He then returned to CBS as a “visualizer” (the first news readers) and developed methods for reporting world news on TV broadcasts in their early days. In April 1946, he became the nation's first television news reporter, and also served as the first president of the Radio-Newsreel-Television Working Press Association of New York.
Burger eventually became national manager of CBS Television News, leaving that position in 1955 to enter the public relations field with the Ruder Finn agency, and then as president of Communications Counselors, Inc. later founding his own firm, Chester Burger and Co., Inc.  During a 24-year period, his clients included American Bankers Association, Sears Roebuck, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing, Communications Satellite Corporation, American Cancer Society, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Texas Instruments, Inc. and Bell Canada. He was especially proud of his relationship with AT&T, where he was a consultant to management for 33 years. The Telephone Pioneers of America electedhim an Honorary Member — one of only two persons honored who was not a former Bell System employee.
After what he called “retirement” in 1988, he became counsel to James E. Arnold Consultants, Inc., the successor firm to his company, and continued with a wide range of professional and volunteer work. In 1990, Burger became the first and “founding” chair of the PRSA College of Fellows and helped the organization shape its initial years. He served as an advisor for the office of public affairs to the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force. In August 2010, the secretary presented him with its highest civilian award. His relationship with the CIA has continued for several decades culminating in multiple awards of recognition for meritorious service to the nation.

Giving back to the country was a Burger trademark. During the years of the civil rights movement, he served the National Urban League as an officer and member of its Board of Trustees. He was a founder of the Black Executive Exchange Program, and received the Outstanding Mentor Award for “21 years of counsel and support to minorities in public relations.” The United Negro College Fund awarded him its Distinguished Service Citation.

He is the author of six books on management subjects, including “The Chief Executive.”  And most recently, a book that reflected his lifelong passion for New York City and its history, “Unexpected New York,”featuring his photos and historical text, was published in 2007. His lifetime papers are in The Center for American History at The University of Texas in Austin.
Burger continues to reside with his wife Elisabeth in the city where he was born, his beloved hometown of New York. He will be 90 years old on Jan. 10, 2011.
About the PRSA Foundation
Founded in 1990, the PRSA Foundation is an independent charitable foundation that raises funds to support scholarships for public relations students, to sponsor research projects that impact the practice of public relations and the profession’s ability to serve the public good, and initiatives that build greater understanding of the role of public relations among business and government leaders. It is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit foundation with offices in New York City.
About the Arthur W. Page Society
The Arthur W. Page Society is a professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives who seek to enrich and strengthen their profession. Membership consists primarily of chief communications officers of Fortune 500 corporations, the CEOs of the world's largest public relations agencies, and leading academics from the nation's top business and communications schools. The Page Society is dedicated to strengthening the management policy role of chief public relations officers.
About the Institute for Public Relations
IPR is an independent nonprofit foundation that answers the need for evidence and accountability in public relations. IPR plays a critical role in bridging the academic world with the profession to ensure that the best thinking and knowledge are applied for the benefit of today's demanding business world.
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