University of Rochester

Judith-Ellen Brown Dies at 75; was Former Head of Public Relations

May 20, 1996

Judith-Ellen Brown, director of public relations for the University of Rochester from 1971 to 1984, died today of cancer. She was 75.

A native of New York City, she moved to Rochester with her husband in 1941, the year she graduated from Syracuse University, summa cum laude.

After beginning her career as an advertising copywriter and free-lance writer, and taking time out to raise three children, Mrs. Brown joined the University's public relations department in 1958 as a part-time editorial assistant. From 1963 until she became public relations director in 1971, she edited the University's alumni magazine, Rochester Review. As the first woman to serve as the University-wide public relations director and chief spokesperson, she oversaw all public information and publications for its central administration and eight schools and colleges, a job she once referred to, mildly, as "challenging."

Robert Kraus, Mrs. Brown's successor as head of University public relations, remembers working with her when he first joined the University staff as head of the satellite public relations office at the Eastman School of Music. "By the time I arrived in University Public Relations, Judy had established very high standards for the office. She herself was unfailingly professional, extraordinarily productive, and appropriately demanding of her staff," he said. "The thing about Judy was that she was a quick thinker and a quick talker; you had to be pretty speedy to keep up with her.

"Fortunately for me, we stayed in touch right through this year; she provided a welcome ear on the twists and turns of university life she understood so well."

Among honors she received for her work was the 1980 Matrix Award presented by the Rochester chapter of Women in Communications, which cited her particularly for "constantly championing the role of women in communications, encouraging younger women to achieve their full potential in the field."

Co-author of the book I Wish I'd Known That Before I Went to College, a guide for pre-college students, Mrs. Brown also free- lanced articles for newspapers and magazines, among them The New York Times and Christian Science Monitor, on two of her major avocational interests, wild-flower gardening and travel. At various times she served on the boards of directors of Family Service of Rochester, the Norman Howard School, and the Harley School.

At Mrs. Brown's request, there will be no memorial service. Contributions can be made in her memory to the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 500 University Ave, Rochester, N.Y. 14607.

Besides her husband, Robert W. Brown, she is survived by her children, Philip, Jonatha, and David, and five grandchildren.

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