From selling funeral plots to pay the rent in college to writing
radio and TV spots for an ad agency in Virginia, Gerald Gibson,
an assistant professor in the School of Communications, brings a
unique blend of experience to the classroom. But one of the few
constants in the past 30 years of Gibson's life has been his friendship
with Don Grady, associate professor in the School of Communications.
life there are only two people I've known and seen for the past
30 years, and I'm married to the other," Gibson says.
The early years
Grady and Gibson first met at WKNC, North Carolina State University's
campus radio station, where Grady was the program manager. "Don
is the guy who put me on the air," Gibson says.
grew and they decided to room together their senior year. "We
were the perfect roommates," Gibson says. "Between classes
and work we didn't see each other much." The two were some
of the first students to major in communications at NCSU. "They
were creating the program as we went along," Gibson says. "I
remember you never knew what classes you'd be taking the next year."
Gibson faced double-digit employment rejections by radio stations.
Finally on the 25th try, he landed a job as a disc jockey. "It's
a lesson in perseverance, I like to think," Gibson says with
Both men worked
in radio and television broadcasting before moving on to graduate
school and eventually teaching. Despite their separation, Gibson
and Grady managed to stay in touch.
industry kept bringing us back together," Grady says. Since
the communications field is small, Grady says he and Gibson often
caught up at conventions and similar events.
to Elon first. As he finished his master's degree at the University
of North Carolina at Greensboro, he received a phone call from Elon
officials who wanted him to fill a one-year teaching position in
1979. One year turned into six.
In 1985, his
wife's employer transferred his family to Virginia. Before he left,
Gibson recommended his former roommate for the open position.
Grady had been an instructor and director of public speaking at
NCSU for five years. He taught at Central Carolina Community College
for a year before coming to Elon in 1985 to fill the position left
By the time
Gibson returned to Elon in 1988 after working for several advertising
and public relations firms in Virginia, Grady was serving his second
year as the first communications department chair. He continued
to chair the department for the next five years.
the ground up
days as students navigating the maze of a developing communications
program at NCSU, Gibson and Grady became part of a team that pioneered
what is now Elon1s second largest academic program. Along with Ray
Johnson, assistant professor in the School of Communications, they
were Elon1s first communications professors. Gibson still remembers
teaching his first television production course without equipment.
sort of the old guys," Gibson says.
of us have taught just about everything [in the School of Communications],
especially Gerald because of his eclectic background," Grady
years at Elon, both Grady and Gibson have held several roles at
the university. Each has served as adviser to the student radio
station, WSOE, and both have worked as internship coordinator for
the School of Communications.
Grady both say that their ability to stay in touch after 30 years
is special given the transient nature of society, where people lose
touch as they change positions and move to different areas of the
I go back and look at wedding photos, and I see Don, it means a
lot," Gibson says. "I can see [Don] and I meeting for
breakfast in Hillsborough after we retire."
written by communications/journalism major Annette Randall, was
originally published in @Elon, the Elon University employee newsletter.)