AU alum Whitson, press secretary to Laura Bush, to visit campus Feb. 14

AUBURN – Susan Dryden Whitson, Auburn University alumna and press secretary to first lady Laura Bush, will visit AU on Wednesday, Feb. 14, as the College of Education’s fifth Keystone Leader-in-Residence.

Whitson is the first lady’s chief communications adviser and the key spokesperson on issues the first lady helps advance, including education, literacy and international women’s issues. Whitson is also involved with all White House social functions.

During her Keystone Leader lecture, Whitson will speak on how her academic foundation in education prepared her for a career progression from Birmingham high school English teacher to White House communicator. The lecture, scheduled for 11 a.m. in 213 Foy Student Union, is open to all.

“Mrs. Bush and I are both educators, so we share the common belief that education and literacy are the foundation of opportunity,” said Whitson. “Working for Mrs. Bush has given me the chance to talk about the issues important to her, but which are also important to me.”

Whitson earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education language arts from Auburn in 1991. As a student, she was a member of the War Eagle Girls and Plainsmen and Student Government Association. A member of Kappa Delta sorority, she served as vice president of pledge education. Whitson now serves on the Auburn Campaign Committee for the Washington metro area.

After graduating from Auburn, Whitson returned to her native Birmingham to teach ninth- and tenth-grade English for six years at Hoover High School. In 1997, at the end of a temporary summer appointment with then U.S. Rep. Bob Riley, current governor of Alabama, she was offered “an opportunity too good to pass up” to serve as his press secretary.

In the eight years that followed, she served as press secretary on Capitol Hill for two U.S. representatives; deputy director of the Office of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice; chief of the FBI’s National Press Office; and deputy communications director for the Bush-Cheney ‘04 campaign. She was appointed by Mrs. Bush as press secretary in 2005.

The College of Education’s Keystone Leader-in-Residence program introduces students to proven leaders in education, human services, health services, community services and government. The program emphasizes that education – like the keystone of an arch – serves a central, supporting role in society. The college strives to develop competent, committed and reflective professionals who utilize education in building better futures for all.

(Contributed by Michael Tullier.)

Contact: Michael Tullier (334) 844-1324 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (