Kenn Gaither stands in a suit with an Elon flag flying behind him under the oaks.

Communications Dean Kenn Gaither

An accomplished teacher, scholar and mentor, with a passion for global education, T. Kenn Gaither is the third dean of Elon University School of Communications.

For nearly two decades, Gaither has held leadership positions at Elon, including a year as the school’s interim dean and a decade as an associate dean. Gaither joined the university’s faculty in 2004 after completing his doctorate in international public relations and new technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Park Doctoral Fellow.

Prior to UNC, Gaither gained significant professional experience in public relations and strategic communications with roles at élan communications, Burson-Marsteller and William J. Green & Associates.

Throughout his time at Elon, Gaither has been a teacher focused on student engagement, a scholar dedicated to advancing research in his fields, and an administrator focused on elevating the profile of the school.

In Their Own Words

“Kenn Gaither has been a quiet, effective leader for many years in Elon’s award-winning School of Communications. His expertise in strategic communication is exactly what the school needs as it moves into an exciting future. Kenn’s noted commitment to students and colleagues – plus his global perspective – promise to bring our beloved school into a new era of excellence.”

— Roger Bolton, President, Arthur W. Page Society

“An accomplished, experienced and innovative leader, Dr. Gaither is respected internationally as an educator and scholar. His intellectual prowess and inclusive, conscientious nature are what’s needed in today’s rapidly changing communications landscape to provide students with the best possible foundations for personal and professional success.”

— Dr. Diana Martinelli, Dean and Widmeyer Professor in Public Relations, Reed College of Media, West Virginia University

“Dr. Kenn Gaither brings to this role a rare blend of distinguished leadership, recognized academic achievement, prior experience as a professional practitioner, and a deep, enduring dedication to the values that make Elon one of the most admired communications programs in the nation. He is a purpose-driven leader who prioritizes mentorship, empathy, and advocacy for students and professionals at all levels. I can’t think of a better choice to lead the School of Communications.”

— Pat Ford, Professional in Residence, College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida

Leadership & Scholarship

Academic Appointments

Elon University, School of Communications

  • Interim Dean, 2022-2023
  • A.J. Fletcher Endowed Professorship in Communications, 2021-2023
  • Associate Dean, 2010-2020
  • Director of Communications Fellows Program, 2006-2009

Professional Experience

President/Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Shipboard Education, 2014-2015

Director of Public Relations/Marketing, élan communications, 1999-2001

Client Associate, Burson-Marsteller, 1998-1999

Project Manager/Senior Account Executive, William J. Green & Associates, 1993-1998

Selected Scholarship

“Women’s activism as public relations in a patriarchal society: The case of Kuwait,” Public Relations Review (2023)

“Articulating national identity in postcolonial democracies: Defining relations and interests through competing publics,” Public Interest Communication: Critical Debates and Global Contexts (2019)

“An Arab perspective on social media: How banks in Kuwait use Instagram for public relations,” Public Relations Review (2019)

“The cultural-economic model and public relations in the Middle East: An examination of the Islamic banking system in Kuwait,” Public Relations Review (2014)

Globalization and public relations in postcolonial nations: Challenges and opportunities (Cambria Press 2012)

International Public Relations: Negotiating Culture, Identity, and Power (Sage Publications 2008)


University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Ph.D./Park Doctoral Fellow, 2004

University of Pittsburgh, M.F.A., Literary Journalism, 2000

University of Pittsburgh, B.A., English Writing/Portuguese, Certificate of Latin American Studies, 1993