Two friends and public relations leaders received well-deserved recognition for their significant contributions to education during last week’s annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) in Montreal.
Frank Ovaitt, president and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), received the Gerald Sass Distinguished Service Award, presented by the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Don Stacks, Ph.D., IPR trustee and chair of the Measurement Commission, received AEJMC’s Dorothy Bowles Public Service Award. Both awards are based in part on connecting the work of academics and communications professionals.
The Gerald Sass Distinguished Service Award began in 1946 and has been won by such highly respected journalists as Walter Cronkite, Bill Moyers and Al Neuharth. Frank is the first public relations person to win the award.
Citing the significance of this recognition, Matt Ragas, PhD., my DePaul colleague who attended the AEJMC meeting said: “Frank’s award represents a break-through moment for public relations education. Already the third largest division in AEJMC, the field is increasingly receiving greater recognition among our peers across mass communication education. In addition, Elizabeth Toth, Ph.D. of the University of Maryland is set to become the first public relations educator to head AEJMC.”
Don was recognized for more than 20 years of bringing public relations theory and research into the professional’s world, strengthening both. Don has taught at the University of Miami since 1990 and is the president of the International Public Relations Research Conference.
The Dorothy Bowles Public Service Award recognizes an AEJMC member for a sustained public service record that helps connect academics and professionals in mass communication. Both Don and Frank are active in a large number of professional organizations, including the Arthur W. Page Society and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
The Institute for Public Relations is an independent foundation dedicated to “the science beneath the art of public relations”. In addition to investing in research, IPR develops ways for scholars and professionals to more effectively communicate.
Congratulations, Frank and Don. Thank you for all you do to advance our profession.