ATLANTA–Associate Professor Maria Repnikova has been appointed as the inaugural William C. Pate Chair in Strategic Communication in the College of Arts & Sciences at Georgia State University.
The endowed chair was established through a gift from William Pate, the president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB). The chair, which sits in the Department of Communication, has a five-year term and was established to support research and other professional academic activities related to public relations and strategic communication.
"I'm excited to have this opportunity to give back to Georgia State University, which has given so much to me," Pate said. "It is an honor to have a professor with Dr. Repnikova's impressive resume and international reputation be the first recipient to occupy this chair."
Repnikova is an expert on soft power, national media influence, critical journalism, digital diplomacy, and authoritarianism, with a regional focus on China and Russia. She is the author of two books, “Media Politics in China: Improvising Power under Authoritarianism” and “Chinese Soft Power.” She is also the author of a number of academic articles and publications in popular media, including The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy.
Repnikova is frequently called on to brief officials, including at the State Department, at the National Defense University, at the U.S. International Trade Commission, and at the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The project she proposed for the next five years will examine Chinese and Russian goals in pursuit of strategic communication aimed at global audiences, as well as the tactics they deploy to pursue these goals. Fluent in both Chinese and Russian, her project will examine official rhetoric, selective Chinese and Russian media coverage, and various exercises aimed at joint construction of communication norms, including by training journalists and signing media agreements. As part of this research, she will also examine the emerging frictions in China-Russia communication, including how non-state actors might challenge official narratives of unity and friendship. She plans to produce a book that will inform research on strategic communication.
“I am deeply honored to be selected for this important position that will allow me to produce original, empirical research on a topic that has thus far been little investigated in the current academic and policy literature,” Repnikova said. “I am grateful to Mr. Pate for his generous gift, and to the Department of Communication for selecting me.”
Jaye Atkinson, chair of the Department of Communication, said Repnikova’s selection honors Mr. Pate’s professional expertise.
“Dr. Repnikova sets a high bar for any future recipients of this endowed chair position,” Atkinson said. “Her quality research is known and respected all over the world. Her reputation will reinforce Georgia State’s reputation as a global institution.”
Pate is a graduate of Georgia State, where he earned an undergraduate degree in journalism and a graduate degree in communications.
Prior to joining ACVB, Pate was president of Career Sports & Entertainment, a national sports marketing and representation firm. He is also the former chief marketing officer of BellSouth, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies.
Pate has served on the Georgia State University Foundation Board of Trustees, the Industry Advisory Board for the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration, and on the College of Arts & Sciences Board of Visitors.
To learn about the rest of the endowed chairs and professors in the College of Arts & Sciences, visit cas.gsu.edu/endowed-professorships.