Brown, Simms and a brief history of AU journalism

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It was not only what Harper Lee, author of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” said about Jerry Elijah Brown’s new book. it was how she said it: “Jerry Elijah’s book is the greatest book to come out of Alabama since ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.”

Her use of the double-name is the Southern way of saying, “This person is like family, and he can sit at our table any time.”

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When Dr. Brown was head of the Journalism Department at Auburn, Bobby Lowder, a member of the Board of Trustees, began his reckless political move to fire football coach Tommy Tuberville and President William Muse.

An effort developed within that same political move to censor the editor of The Plainsman for critizing Lowder.

This sparked action by Dr. Brown, as head of the Journalism Department to support the student editor. All of these actions rumbled into a mean political fight throughout the University that eventually proved to be a threat to the academic standing of the University.

Auburn’s academic standing was preserved, but Coach Tuberville resigned, President Muse resigned and Dr. Brown left to accept the appointment as dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Montana.

After the dust settled Auburn University’s administration, alumni and faculty were able to disarm Lowder, who is still a member of the board, but is not as powerful as he was.

In the aftermath, the Journalism Department was downsized to a Journalism Program within the Communication Department under the College of Liberal Arts.

And life continues in academe.

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