Raymond R. Hornback Ed.D. – Consulting Specialist
A veteran higher education administrator and public speaker/roastmaster well known for his successful innovative public relations programs, Dr. Hornback offers a solid communications background.
His occupational career began almost with overlapping duties. During the summer before his senior year at the University of Kentucky he was hired by the Associated Press. When school began that fall he requested and was granted delayed entry because the AP needed him as a staff writer until they found a capable replacement.
Concurrently, he was to be managing editor of Kentucky’s largest weekly newspaper. Somehow it all came together without undue distress; Ray gained an A.B. degree on schedule, later earning an M.A. from UK and later a doctorate from Indiana University.
In short order, the president of Morehead State College [ultimately Morehead State University] recognized how his new assistant was rapidly establishing impressive credentials. Combining public information duties with teaching journalism courses, and overseeing editing and production of the school’s newspaper, he also helped reduce the president’s heavy load of challenges and issues.
Later, he moved to the role of vice president at Morehead after obtaining a leave of absence to gain an Ed.D. degree from Indiana University. There, he was named a Fellow, the highest award for an IU doctoral student. His major was in higher education with a minor in public administration.
Dr. Hornback then returned to Morehead, assuming not just his former role but also additional duties. Especially worthy of notice is while at MSU Ray coordinated most strategies to assuage local student unrest regarding the tragic May 1970 Kent State University shooting and riot.
On to UK
Eventually, Kentucky’s flagship university acquired new leadership. The incoming president, Dr. Otis Singletary, chose restructuring his internal staff as a top priority. He hired Ray as vice president for university relations and advisor to the president.
The next 17 years saw many whirlwinds. Among a plethora of significant events calling on Ray’s abilities were:
- Managing local, state and national media, parental, student and faculty inquiries while helping with strategy during a sniper attack on campus. Click here for details.
- Investigating theft of athletic tickets and catching the perpetrators.
- Serving as liaison with the United States Secret Service during two appearances, one by the President of the United State and the other by the President’s wife.
- Coordinating UK’s involvement with the NCAA during the Final 4 Championship round.
- Successfully moderating union disputes while heading United Way of The Bluegrass, just one of many university outreach endeavors where he promoted community goodwill.
Next, The Private Sector
With nearly two decades at MSU and 15 years at UK, Ray entered the private sector, becoming a vice president of The Preston Group, Inc.
Much of his time was spent with Fortune 500 companies where he represented both as counselor and practitioner in legislative matters as well as in crisis control and policy formations.
After five years as VP at TPG, Dr. Hornback formed his own consulting firm. It proved successful despite major challenges almost on opening day.
One of the nation’s largest coal mining corporations retained Hornback & Associates for emphasis on press and community relations. Ray immediately faced three obstacles.
The first, self-appointed environmentalist “experts” were in active mode, painting distorted pictures of his new client. Second, except for local mining
communities, dwindling public support of coal as a necessary power source appeared in polls. Surface extraction spiked opposition. Also, big city media itched for hot news stories to help circulation.
Exceptional diplomacy toward adversaries was one of the keys to reducing heat from angry forms of communication. Fortified by a journalism diploma plus other degrees, Ray drew on his years as an, AP writer, and J-school prof. Anticipating future headlines kept him ahead of the wolf packs.
Restoring goodwill for an echo-friendly company providing large numbers of well-paying jobs, but viciously grouped among those who weren’t, became taxing. Eastern Kentucky desperately needed this employer. Ray overcame.
His insights, advice, patience, and labors pleased the client — a man who always had contributed leadership and resources to societal improvement.