UT Chattanooga, ’71
Part of the Tennessee Alumnus‘ 100 Distinguished Alumni feature.
Tom Griscom’s career has taken him from the heart of a metropolitan newspaper to the corridors of the White House to the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies. The common thread in his successful career has been recognizing the importance of telling good stories and how audiences react to them. He began his career as a reporter for The Chattanooga Times Free Press before his talent earned him a job on Capitol Hill. His role as press secretary for U.S. Sen. Howard Baker opened the door for Griscom to become part of President Ronald Reagan’s administration, serving as communication director.
In this position, Griscom helped establish one of the defining political statements of the 20th century and changed the path of the political world. He was part of the team that wrote President Reagan’s 1987 Berlin speech when he challenged the Soviet Union with “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Griscom parlayed his White House success into careers in public affairs and media relations—even serving as the first West Chair of Excellence at UTC. But ink was in his veins, and he returned to serve as executive editor and publisher of The Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 until he left the post in 2010.
In his final editorial upon his retirement as publisher, Griscom wrote, “Freedom comes through an informed public. An informed public is willing to grapple with the multiple sides of an issue in the search for truth. Keep the light of a free press burning and shining.”
Today, Griscom is a communication consultant and continues to serve the public as a member of the board of directors of the Tennessee Board of Regents system.