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Paying tribute to Karl Friederich, Greenlee’s PR leader

Author: perkinsk | Image: perkinsk

Karl Friederich played a key role as a faculty member in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (now the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication) at Iowa State University. Karl joined the faculty in the fall of 1967 as an assistant professor with a half-time teaching and half-time extension appointment.

He arrived from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was working toward his Ph.D. in mass communications, and also had significant newspaper and international communication expertise. His extension work carried him through 1975, after which he had a full-time appointment in the department.

Karl’s international experience and interests led him to become involved with a growing university interest in global affairs. He was named chair of the university’s International Studies program in 1973 and continued in that role for the next 13 years.

He and other journalism faculty members launched the department’s first European Study Program in 1976, and he helped direct this program over the next six even-numbered years. Students received academic credit plus invaluable contacts and training through the program.

At Iowa State, Karl taught the department’s international communication course, and advised many international graduate student thesis projects.

Karl Friederich
Karl Friederich from the Greenlee archives.

Karl is probably best known by many of his former students for developing and teaching public relations courses in the department, and he built the foundation for what is now a stand-alone public relations major in the Greenlee School. The emphasis was on development of highly ethical media/company relationships.

In dealings with students, businesses and university colleagues, Karl practiced what he taught. He was straightforward and direct – you always knew exactly where he stood. His high ethics and management skills also were recognized outside the university. He served as co-chair of the Republican Party of Story County.

Karl was not always on the same side of issues as other faculty members. In one case, Karl was in charge of communication for a campaign to privatize the City of Ames electric utility, while Democrat Bill Kunerth was running the opposition campaign. Both men continued to be close friends over the years despite their opposing political ideologies.

When members of the faculty decided to form an educational investment club, Karl was selected to be its treasurer, and served for almost 20 years.

In the department, Karl played a vital role as adviser and later chair of the Bomb Yearbook Publication Board, and also served six years as a faculty representative to the Daily Publication Board. He was an expert in financial, production, and journalistic aspects for both of these publications. He also served as adviser to the local PRSSA chapter.

Those of us who had the privilege to work with Karl know that while he could be gruff on occasion, he cared deeply about us and our program. As can be seen by the many responsibilities he willingly shouldered, he saw what needed to be done, and he did it cheerfully and skillfully. When faculty who made a difference here are remembered, Karl is certainly one of them.