bj Altshul Endows the Grunig Gala

The Annual Lecture Series

Dr. Elizabeth L. Toth, Chair of The Department of Communication, today announced a gift received posthumously from bj Altshul, University of Maryland alumna and former lecturer, to endow the annual Grunig Gala and lecture series.

Altshul, who taught public relations courses at the University of Maryland, championed humane education as director of communication and educational relations for the Montgomery County Humane Association until her death in 2014. Her programs reach thousands annually on issues of animal sheltering, responsible caregiving, preparing for disaster and nurturing the human-animal bond.  She was a leader in the Public Relations Society of America, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Virginia State Agency Public Affairs Association.

She received her M.A. in Journalism from the Philip Merrill College in 1995.

“Student, colleague, friend—bj was all of these and more to those of us who knew her well and respected her ethical approach to public relations practice, her thirst for life-long learning, her caring for all sentient beings, and—of course—her generosity,” Larissa Grunig said.

The Grunig Gala and lecture is a three-part evening of roundtable interactions with communication students and professionals followed by a networking reception and keynote address. Previous keynote speakers have included Richard Edelman, President and CEO of the largest privately owned public relations firm in the U.S.; James E. Grunig and Larissa A. Grunig, Professors Emeriti, University of Maryland; David Senay, CEO and President of FleishmanHillard; and Kathleen L. Lewton, expert in health communication and former president of the Public Relations Society of America.

"We are deeply appreciative of bj's gift to fund future Grunig Galas,” Elizabeth Toth said. “bj made it a point to attend every Grunig Lecture series. We are very grateful that her bequest will insure the success of the Grunig lecture series for years to come." 

The Grunig Gala and lecture series, now in its eighth year, is organized, publicized and executed by a select team of communication students.

For Altshul’s obituary:

Grunig Gala’s website:

For a video from the 2015 Grunig Gala, visit:

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