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Dr. Joel Gambill Alumni Speaker Series To Feature Warren Byrd


JONESBORO — A thorough education at Arkansas State University greatly prepared William Warren Byrd II for a 35-year career in the print journalism, education and military public affairs.

He returns to campus Tuesday and Wednesday, March 17-18, as the spring 2015 guest speaker for the Dr. Joel Gambill Alumni Speakers Series in the College of Media and Communication. He will speak to students, faculty, staff, administrators and community members during his brief visit.

Byrd is a graduate of the Department of Journalism, now known as the Department of Media. Under the leadership of Dr. Gambill, retired department chairman and professor, Byrd earned his bachelor’s degree in print journalism in 1987 and his master’s degree in mass communications in 1999.

“His zest in the classroom and decision to take me under his wing – for both degrees – is a credit to him and the university,” Byrd said about Gambill. “He tolerated my shenanigans the first time I enrolled as an undergraduate student. He selected me for an assistantship when I returned for my master’s.

“Dr. Gambill is absolutely one of the most influential people in my career success. He is one of the most influential mentors since I joined the journalism profession years ago. He is genuine, kind, dedicated, loyal, caring and passionate, not only about his profession, but to the people in his life,” Byrd added.

The Jonesboro native said he now tries to treat his students and the people in his life the way Gambill treated him.

“He displayed those traits when I was a student for each degree I earned there, and I have since tried to ‘pay it forward’ with my students while I served as a journalism professor, military leader and public affairs instructor,” he said.

After honing his journalism and mass communications skills at Arkansas State, Byrd began his journalism and public affairs career in 1980 as a reporter for the Fort Meade Soundoff. He also worked for the former Arkansas Democrat, the Jonesboro Sun, Russellville Courier and the Stuttgart Daily Leader and served more than 15 years as a print journalist, working as editor, copy editor, columnist and sports editor.

Byrd is currently an instructor in the public affairs leadership department at the Defense Information School, Fort George G. Meade, Md., where he has taught for five years. He also has taught at Delta State University and Arkansas Tech University.

Byrd is a retired Army sergeant major, with 31 years of active duty and reserve service, most of which was spent as a public affairs specialist and journalist. He retired in October 2011 from the Army Reserve, serving as the chief public affairs noncommissioned officer for First U.S. Army.

He also worked as a public affairs specialist for the federal government, to include stints as the command information officer at Fort Jackson, S.C., public affairs specialist for the 90th Regional Readiness Command, Little Rock, and as public affairs specialist and district media training officer for the Sacramento District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

He deployed to Iraq with the 44th Medical Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C., in 2008, serving as the public affairs operations noncommissioned officer in charge, and spent six months on active duty as media operations noncommissioned officer in charge for Joint Task Force 160, U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002.

He received more than 50 awards for writing, editing and photography while working in the print journalism industry, and earned numerous journalism awards while serving in the U.S. Army. He is a recipient of one of the military’s highest awards, the Legion of Merit, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.

Byrd is married to the former Sammye Aldridge who also is from Jonesboro and an Arkansas State University graduate.

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Warren Byrd
Warren Byrd