In 2005, the UA Board of Trustees established The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, named for public relations leader and UA alumna Betsy Plank, to develop and recognize outstanding performance in the profession and the classroom. It sponsors research, national awards, and service programs to advance the understanding and practice of ethical and responsible public relations and is funded primarily through a gift from the late Betsy Plank.
In addition to national leaders in the practice and education, the Center Board includes an ex officio position for the president of the Public Relations Student Society of America, which represents more than 9,800 members in 295 colleges and universities.
The Plank Center’s primary mission is to help develop and recognize outstanding leaders and role models in public relations. Led by a national advisory board of leading educators and practitioners, the Center seeks to achieve its mission by:
- Advancing knowledge of leadership values and skills in the profession;
- Supporting research, teaching, service, and professional educational efforts that help develop responsible and trustworthy leaders;
- Bridging the interests and vision of the practice and education; and
- Collaborating with other groups and associations to nurture the ethical and effective practice of public relations.
The Center uses a variety of approaches and activities to support its mission. These include awards and recognition programs, scholarships, speaker programs, publications, scholarly and professional papers, workshops and symposia, research grants, and histories and papers of leaders in the field.