Plank Center Develops and Recognizes Outstanding Public Relations Leaders
September 10th, 2012 - Filed under: Connections
Since its establishment in 2005, The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations has been bridging the gap between education and practice in the field of public relations.
Named for Betsy Plank, a 1944 UA graduate who became nationally known as the “first lady” of public relations, the center’s mission is to help develop and recognize outstanding leaders and role models in public relations.
The center uses a variety of methods and activities to support this vision, including awards and recognition programs, scholarships, research grants, workshops and symposia, among others.
“One of our initiatives places educators in public relations agencies, corporations and nonprofit organizations for two weeks each summer to gain exposure to the current, day-to-day operations of the public relations function,” said Dr. Karla Gower, director of the Plank Center and professor in the department of advertising and public relations. “In turn, the host organizations learn and benefit from access to the educators who shape their students’ view of the profession.”
A national advisory board of distinguished educators and practitioners guides the center’s approach to advancing the knowledge of leadership values and skills in the profession. They also support the Plank Center’s research, teaching, service and professional educational efforts that are designed to help develop responsible and trustworthy leaders.
“We bring in world-class speakers each year to interact with our students and faculty on issues of importance to the public relations profession,” Gower said. “And we sponsor research into public relations leadership, much of which has been done by our own faculty and doctoral students.”
The center’s Honoring Milestones in Mentoring awards dinner, held each fall in Chicago, is quickly becoming the event of the season for public relations practitioners. “We held the first banquet in 2010 to honor individuals who, during their careers, have demonstrated extraordinary leadership through mentoring. Last year, more than 300 public relations practitioners, educators and students attended,” Gower said. “The Plank Center Mentoring awards are the first of their kind in public relations.”
The center’s online magazine, Platform, is produced by and for students and educators. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information that enhance and encourage the effective and ethical practice of leadership in the field of public relations. The magazine has twice won a Hermes Creative Gold Award for Website Overall-Nonprofit.
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