Bryant receives honorary doctorate, hall of fame nod

Mitchell County native Jennings Bryant, a retired Distinguished Professor Emeritus at The University of Alabama, has received two more honors for his work in academia.

Davidson College awarded Bryant an Honorary Doctorate of Letters during its May 20 spring commencement ceremony and this coming October he is an inductee into the University of Alabama’s Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame, joining the likes of authors Rick Bragg and Harper Lee, and actress Sela Ward, to name a few.

Before his retirement in 2010, Bryant was Communication and Information Sciences Distinguished Research Professor, holder of the Reagan Endowed Chair of Broadcasting and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Alabama. 

Bryant received a bachelor’s degree in history from Davidson in 1967. He completed his Master’s of Divinity work in Communication and Counseling in 1971, graduating from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary with highest honors. Bryant earned a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Indiana University in 1974, again graduating with highest honors.

Bryant came to the University of Alabama in 1987 to teach in the department of telecommunication and film. He founded the Institute for Communication Research in 1989 and served as director for more than 15 years.

He has received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Broadcast Education Association, the leading national scholarly association for broadcasting and telecommunications. 

Bryant has served as president and elected a Fellow of the pre-eminent international scholarly society in his field, the International Communication Association.

Bryant has served as an outside reviewer for tenure or promotion for 127 colleges and universities domestically and internationally, in departments such as psychology, human development, education, library and information studies, marketing and communication. In this role, he was responsible for determining the qualifications of those seeking tenure or promotion within the field.

Bryant was a Spencer Foundation Fellow in Formative Evaluation for Children’s Television Workshop in New York in 1972 where he worked on research underpinning the creation of new segments and formats for Sesame Street and The Electric Company. 

He also contributed writing to several other children’s television shows between 1970 and 1980 and created and later sold two companies dedicated to the creation of, and consulting for, television programming for children. He has also been a paid consultant for more than 60 media companies, many of them dealing with children’s programming and media effects.

Bryant was married to Sara Poteat Bryant for 43 years until her passing from pancreatic cancer. The couple had three children, Dr. J. Alison Bryant, Todd Bryant and Adrienne Bryant. He is now married to Phyllis Dunker Bryant and lives on a two-century-old family farm near Marion. 

Jennings is the son of Jennings and Elvira Bryant, and brother to Sarah Hobart and Amelia Duncan.


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