General Motors Executive to Address UA Students

Tony Cervone, senior vice president of global communications at General Motors Co. and chairman of the GM Foundation, will deliver the Koten Distinguished Lecture in Public Relations Tuesday, March 8.

GM Tony CervoneThe lecture will take place at 9:30 a.m. in Reese Phifer Hall, room 216, on the UA campus.

Cervone will discuss “Public Relations on the Move.”

As GM’s top communications executive, Cervone is responsible for the company’s overall global communications strategy, including global products and brands, corporate, social media, executive support and internal communications.

“We are delighted that Tony will share his vast experience and insights with our students and faculty,” said Dr. Karla K. Gower, professor of advertising and public relations at UA and director of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations.

“He is a highly accomplished leader in public relations and a terrific role model for our students,” Gower said. “Tony is exactly the kind of leader that we want interacting with our students and faculty.”

Prior to his current position, Cervone served as executive vice president of Group Communications for Volkswagen Group of America, where he revamped the company’s communications activities for its VW and Audi brands.

Before Volkswagen, he was senior vice president for communications for United Airlines and was a key part of the team that oversaw the carrier’s merger with Continental Airlines.

Cervone earned a bachelor’s degree in fine and applied arts from Central Michigan University where he majored in journalism, with business administration and advertising minors. He completed the General Motors Senior Executive Program in 2003.

Cervone is a member of the Arthur Page Society, the Public Relations Society of America and The Seminar. He is a board member of Detroit Public Television, The LaGrant Foundation and is on the advisory council for the department of communication at the College of Charleston. He is a former trustee of The Institute for Public Relations and former board member of the Automotive Press Association and the Ad Council. Cervone was also named one of the 2014 Automotive News All-Stars.

The Koten Lecture Series is sponsored by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. It is named after John “Jack” Koten, an inaugural member of the Plank Center board of advisors. The lecture provides public relations undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to hear diverse public relations experts discuss timely and relevant issues in the field.

About the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations

In 2005, The University of Alabama Board of Trustees established The Plank Center, named for public relations leader and UA alumna, the late Betsy Plank, to develop and recognize outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society through a variety of programs and in concert with groups and associations.

In addition to national leaders in the practice and education, the Center Board includes an ex officio position for the president of the Public Relations Student Society of America that represents more than 11,000 members in 300-plus colleges and universities.

The Center is housed in UA’s department of advertising and public relations, a division of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. UA’s public relations program, with nearly 1,400 students, is the largest undergraduate degree program within the College. The program is certified by the Public Relations Society of America, and for six years it has been ranked among the top five public relations programs in the country by PRWeek magazine.

More information about the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations can be found at

  • CONTACT: Jessika White, communication specialist, 205/348-7250,

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