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Carolyn Curiel

BA 1976, Communication; HDR 2008, Liberal Arts

Clinical Professor of Communication, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Many at Purdue know Carolyn Curiel as the executive director of the Purdue Institute for Civic Communication (PICC). But her students call her Ambassador—just a hint at all she has accomplished in journalism and public service. Curiel was an Emmy-nominated producer and writer for Ted Koppel at Nightline, head of the Caribbean Division for United Press International, and an editor at The Washington Post before serving as President Clinton’s senior speechwriter and later, Ambassador to Belize. She returned to media in 2002 as a member of The New York Times editorial board, directing the paper’s election endorsements before arriving at Purdue in 2008, where she is now a clinical professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication.

With PICC, she hopes to increase the number of opportunities Purdue students have to interact with professionals doing the jobs the students aspire to. PICC’s public forums simultaneously allow students to discuss the key civic issues of the day with experts in areas like the economy, energy policy, media, technology, human rights, and education.

“I must ‘wow’ easily,” notes Curiel of the defining moments of her career, “because it is difficult to name a single moment—my first ride aboard Air Force One ranks up there, as does my first Oval Office meeting with the President, but so does the first time I traveled with the Purdue football team as the first woman reporter to do so. Most recently, it is hard to top receiving a $1 million check [for PICC] to help our Purdue students.”

Purdue Influences
Dr. Steve Robb, my instructor in the persuasion class in communication, taught me never to take guff from anyone. I remind him of that all the time, now that he is my colleague.

Purdue Memories
Home football games, just before kickoff, reciting along with the crowd, “I Am an American.” It still makes my eyes well up.

Purdue Now
Purdue is becoming more welcoming of real-world experience as a point of teaching, which helps me to help our students get ready to succeed on their graduation.

Greatest Achievement
Surviving childhood.

Person I Admire
Brian Lamb

Idea of Perfect Happiness
I hope to never find out; all else afterward would be anticlimactic.

What I’m Reading
Two books also assigned to my students: This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral—Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!—in America’s Gilded Capital, by Mark Leibovich, and Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America, by Dan Balz.

Profession I’d Like to Try
Full-time author. It would be an aggravating profession, because writing is painful when done right. But I would like to think it would be ultimately very satisfying.