The University of Texas announced this week that The Richards Group founder Stan Richards will remain the namesake of its advertising school. The news came more than a year after Richards made a racist remark during a client meeting that forced him to step down from his agency. (Read about the university's decision here.)
In the aftermath of Richards’ comments, UT students were divided on what should be done with the school that bears Richards’ name. Jay M. Bernhardt, dean of Moody College of Communication, of which the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations is a part, this week acknowledged the decision will “perpetuate feelings of pain or anger within our community.”
Ad Age spoke with several ad industry experts, all of whom said they weren’t surprised by the university's decision.
“The folks running the show at Texas’s Moody College of Communication and the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations chose money over integrity,” an associate dean who formerly taught at UT’s advertising department said. “It’s not surprising … funding is important and many programs would probably do the same. But the price becomes a lingering relationship to racism, to white privilege, and to business as usual in Texas. The industry needs a reset. If ever there was a time to stake a stand against racism, it’s now. And they chose not to.”
“I don’t want to beat a dead horse, I think Stan has done that to himself,” added Christopher Parr, who once worked for a former Richards client and is now the CEO of Pursuitist.com. “This is Texas, not a surprise.”
Others recognized the polarizing situation and the lessons that must be taken from it but said it's important to remember both sides of his legacy.
"I'm not surprised they're keeping his name on the school, they're not changing the name of his agency either,” an agency CEO said. “While what he said was profoundly stupid, his racist comment will be a sad footnote in the story of an octogenarian founder who overstayed his welcome—an object lesson in the need for more proactive succession planning. But his legacy will be, and should be, about building a durably successful creative agency in an unusual place."
While UT admitted a record number of underrepresented students in the school’s history this academic year, there is still work to be done in terms of diverse student representation for Moody College and the Stan Richards school. In total (graduate and undergraduate combined) 4.5% of the Stan Richards school's students are Black and 29.4% are Hispanic. Moody College lists 5.2% of its students as Black and 30.2% as Hispanic. In the report, Bernhardt outlined plans around improving diversity, including supporting research related to diversity in advertising and PR, expanding representation of underrepresented groups at the school, implementing diversity-related academic programs and providing support to underrepresented students.
Out with the turkey, in with the ... briskurkey?
TX Whiskey, a brand owned by Pernod Ricard, worked with Tombras to find some of the top TX Whiskey-infused or inspired recipes from Texan chefs, and put some of the recipes on its website. Just in time for Thanksgiving comes briskurkey—brisket and beef ribs placed together to look like a turkey. It was made in partnership with Jason Wilson, a self-proclaimed meat whisperer.