Walter E. Griscti
Walter E. Griscti was born April 22, 1920 in New York. At 20 years old, Griscti joined the military on the eve of World War II in 1940. He was highly decorated Colonel and even served as a PR officer at General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s NATO headquarters in Paris. Griscti played an active role in the NATO start-up. After serving 26 years, he joined USF in 1967 following his retirement from the U.S Army, where he was stationed at the forerunner of Central Command.
He soon began was working as a professor at the University of South Florida for the Department of English teaching a variety of classes and was the advisor of The Oracle, USF’s student-run newspaper. Griscti played a huge part in starting the Department of Mass Communications . As one of the six founding professors that established the program, 28 classes transferred from other departments such as English, Education, Speech and Fine Arts to start up the Department of Mass Communications in the 1970-1971 academic year.
With Griscti as the second chair of the department, the school promoted enrollment until it became the sixth largest in the nation with more than more than 1,300 students in the major by 1973. During those three years of growth, Griscti established the public relations track of the department. He founded the principals of public relations course, which to this day is a required in the track. He also played a part in spearheading the mass communications master’s program at the university.
It was also during this time that Griscti was hard at work getting the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) to establish a chapter at the USF campus. On April 17, 1971 the Walter E. Griscti chapter of PRSSA at the University of South Florida was established, with the approval of Fredrick Teahan, the education director of national PRSSA. USF became the 45th student chapter of PRSSA with Griscti as the first faculty advisor, which is now a student society with over 300 chapter internationally. The chapter started with 15 students and only four executive board position: president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.
In 1977 Griscti was both Tampa Bay Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) president as well as the national PRSA Outstanding Educator of the Year. Griscti taught at USF for 16 years before being named professor emeritus, in which a retired professor is recognized for their success at the university. Griscti passed away in 1991 at the age of 71. His honor continues, both at the student and parent chapter here in Tampa. Each spring PRSA Tampa Bay awards a scholarship in memory of USF professor emeritus Walter E. Griscti, APR.
Griscti’s memory lives on in the community and his works will forever be the foundation of the success for so many students, whose passions and careers were made a reality through their membership in the Walter E. Griscti chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America.