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Legacy Scholar Grant
The Page Center will award grants to support scholars and professionals making important contributions to knowledge, practice or public understanding of ethics and resposibility in public communication or other principles of Arthur W. Page.
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|Lawrence G. Foster|
Larry Foster joined Johnson & Johnson in 1957 to help form the company’s first Public Relations Department. At the time, he was night editor of New Jersey’s largest daily newspaper, The Newark News, where over a span of nine years he was a reporter, bureau chief and night editor.
When he signed on with Johnson & Johnson, the company had annual sales of $250 million. Upon retirement 33 years later, the company had grown 40 times larger and had sales of $10 billion. During that time Foster reported to three successive Johnson & Johnson chairmen and CEOs. He was Director of Public Relations and Assistant to the Chairman before becoming Corporate Vice President of Public Relations and an officer of the company in 1973.
In 1982, following the death of seven people in the Chicago area after ingesting poison-laced Tylenol, Foster led Johnson & Johnson’s highly acclaimed response to the tragedy. The crime is still unsolved. Johnson & Johnson put the public interest first and withdrew 32 million packages of Tylenol from the market and was completely open with the press, as a way of keeping the public informed of the danger. PR Week magazine named Foster one of the ten most influential public relations executives of the 20th Century.
He is the recipient of four of the highest awards in public relations: The 1989 Gold Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America, for contributions to the profession; the 1998 Atlas Award from PRSA, for lifetime achievement in international public relations; the Hall of Fame Award from the Arthur W. Page Society in 1994 and the Institute for Public Relations’ Alexander Hamilton Medal for lifetime achievement in 2007.
Following his retirement in 1990 from Johnson & Johnson, Larry Foster wrote the biography of Robert Wood Johnson, the man who built Johnson & Johnson from a family business into a global enterprise. They had worked together for nine years and Foster was intrigued by Johnson's business philosophy and the company's Credo that placed the interests of the customer first. This widely acclaimed book, Robert Wood Johnson: The Gentleman Rebel has been distributed to every public and college library in the nation – 14,000 in all – by the New Jersey Historical Society and the Robert Wood Johnson 1962 Charitable Trust.
Most recently, in April 2008, Foster completed his new book titled Robert Wood Johnson and His Credo, A Living Legacy , a condensation of his earlier work, Robert Wood Johnson: The Gentleman Rebel.
In 1986 Foster wrote A Company That Cares, the 100-year history of Johnson & Johnson.
Other notable accomplishments at Johnson & Johnson include the creation of an extensive corporate video network, the first of its kind, to connect some 150 affiliate companies worldwide. On his first major international assignment, Foster was able to successfully launch an information campaign to members of the Brazilian Senate dissuading them from voting to nationalize their pharmaceutical industry.
Foster was born and raised in New Jersey. Shortly after entering high school, he decided to become a journalist and began writing for area newspapers. After graduation in 1943 he entered New York University and then transferred to the School of Journalism at The Pennsylvania State College, which later became Penn State University. At Penn State he was managing editor of the Daily Collegian and graduated in 1948.
In 1957, after various reporting assignments and a stint as night editor at the Newark News, Foster reluctantly left journalism to join Johnson & Johnson. He was intrigued by the challenge of helping to form the company’s first public relations department and never regretted the decision.
Foster’s volunteer service to Penn State has covered a span of fifty years. He became president of the Penn State Club of Northern New Jersey in the 1960’s, and president of the Penn State Alumni Association in 1972. During his term as national president he helped to create the Alumni Fellows Program, which brings noted alumni back for summer visits.
From 1980-89, he was elected by the alumni to three terms as a Penn State Trustee. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1979 and received the 1999 Lion’s Paw Award for service to the University. His close ties to the College of Communications include sponsorship of the Foster Distinguished Writers Series, which in recent years has brought a dozen Pulitzer Prize Winners to the campus to inspire students to set high goals as writers. Students in public relations named their local chapter the Lawrence G. Foster Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. To encourage better performance, he sponsors a national excellence award at PRSA.
Treasured friends of Penn State University, Foster and his wife Ellen divide their time between New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida. Foster continues his writing and consulting work and he and Ellen are active members of their communities.