Brad Stauffer is devoted to the mission of education.
An ’82 alumnus of the A.Q Miller School, Stauffer is the current director of external relations in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The Kansas native has had a diverse career. Although the bulk of his professional life has been associated with school public relations and communications, he got his start in news and sports broadcasting.
Realizing he needed to start somewhere, Stauffer began studying business administration at Emporia State University in 1978. While in Emporia, a job he held at a local radio station led to an unexpected change in plans.
Stauffer decided he wanted to pursue a degree in radio and TV. With a long history of K-State alumni in the family, he said the university was the best place for him to take the next step—a step he took after only two years at ESU.
“At the time there were other universities, which will remain nameless, that probably had better radio and TV programs,” Stauffer said, “but it was like, for me, there wasn’t really another option.”
He enjoyed broadcasting before enrolling at K-State, but it wasn’t until he became a member of the KSDB campus radio station and began working as a student assistant for the sports information office that he discovered his partiality to sports broadcasting.
Stauffer accepted an offer from KKOY/KQSM Radio after graduation. Shortly thereafter, a more favorable job opportunity arose with a new TV station in Topeka. He was an employee of KLDH-TV until Mother Nature got involved.
“There was a unique situation with an ice storm,” Stauffer said. “The tower collapsed from the weight of the ice and since it was a new TV station, they couldn’t afford to keep the news staff on while they were rebuilding so they laid everyone off.”
The disastrous storm left Stauffer unemployed. He ended up at an ABC affiliate in the Des Moines area a few months later, then jumped at a chance to return to Kansas and work for WIBW TV and radio.
Seeking a change in routine, Stauffer decided it was time to go in a different direction with his career.
“The lifestyle of a sportscaster, or newscaster in general, wasn’t what I wanted anymore,” Stauffer said. “You work nights and weekends, there’s no getting around that. Family and friends are important to me and it was just tough to do things … when you work nights and weekends and that’s the only time they can get together. I decided I’d rather work more of an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. day schedule and have my weekends and holidays free. ”
When an opportunity with a school district in Topeka presented itself, he began his journey in education. The 17 years he spent working for Topeka Public Schools provided Stauffer with great experience.
“I learned a lot about public relations and communications in the education arena and really got an opportunity to grow as a leader,” Stauffer said. “Both my training at K-State in radio, TV and mass communication classes, and my professional experience with radio and TV helped prepare and position me in the job.”
Stauffer said the most notable difference between working in education and broadcasting was deadlines.
“If you’re working in broadcasting, typically on the journalism side of things, you have a firm deadline at least twice a day,” Stauffer said. “If you’re in TV, maybe more than that. In radio, every hour, a couple times an hour, or more. In educational communications and public relations, there are still deadlines but they’re not on a daily basis like they are when you’re putting a show together. Instead of immediate deadlines, there are longer-term deadlines that you can work on over time to prepare a publication, article or website.”
When he started moving up in the leadership ranks in school public relations with the Topeka School District, a group of people who were involved with the Kansas School Public Relations Associated decided to get accredited in public relations through the National School Public Relations Association. He took both a written and an oral test to become accredited.
“I enjoyed the learning aspect of the experience and it motivated me to work on a master’s degree,” Stauffer said. “There was a program at the University of Kansas, based pretty much right in Topeka, in public administration and I felt that would be a good fit for me. I wasn’t an educator and didn’t have an education degree, so I knew I wouldn’t get a master’s in anything like that.”
Stauffer held several positions with other companies before winding up in his current position at UNL. He said he is proud to work for an organization, specifically the College of Education and Human Sciences, whose official mission perfectly aligns with his own personal and professional goals; “… dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals, families, schools and communities and to strengthening the relationships among them.”
“It just kind of speaks to my heart and my desire to make a difference,” Stauffer said. “That is what’s so great about our college here at UNL, it really does. The people who go through our programs really do make a difference in those various categories. Whether they’re teachers or nutritionists or fashion designers, they are making a difference in people’s lives.”
Like any job, Stauffer’s position did not come without challenges. His main challenge is determining what to focus on from day-to-day. He developed a strategic communications plan for the college that helps prioritize things and he also worked with the dean of the college to pinpoint the top priorities.
“I’m kind of a one-person communications shop right now in our college so there are a lot of demands on my time and things people would like me to help them with,” Stauffer said. “I can’t do everything for everyone, but I can identify the most important things and focus my energies and efforts on those things.”
He is passionate about providing quality service for the people he works with, meeting the needs of the college and improving the reputation of the college. Stauffer is currently working on renovating and redesigning the college website.
His goals are short-term because of uncertainties about what could happen from year to year or what might become available to him.
“I have not been a big goal-oriented person across my career,” Stauffer said. “I kind of let things come at me as they do and try to make the best of them.”
Although his position at UNL requires him to live in Husker nation, he remains proud to be a K-Stater and a huge fan of the Wildcats.
“K-State was a great launching pad for me,” Stauffer said.” “I enjoy going back to Manhattan to visit and would like to spend more time there. Who knows, I might end up back at K-State someday. Manhattan is a great community and would be a great place to live and work.”