Educator Fellowship Program


Our namesake, the legendary Betsy Plank, known as the First Lady of Public Relations, had a life-long dream of facilitating a relationship between educators and professionals so both would grow together. In 2010, Betsy’s vision would be transformed into the Educator Fellowship program. Since its inception, more than 65 educators have been selected for the program.

The Plank Center acts as the convener of the program, matching educators to their hosts based on specific areas of interest, expertise and geographic preference. The program consists of an intensive, two-week summer fellowship developed specifically for public relations educators, which allows the fellows to develop or enhance skills in:

Professional Development
Fellows will experience the current day-to-day operations of the public relations function and help create an exchange of information and ideas that will enhance the professional development of both the educators and their host organizations.

Fellows will develop greater knowledge of the skills necessary for today’s public relations work. Key beneficiaries are public relations students. They can be assured their professors are knowledgeable in the current practices and issues facing practitioners and that practitioners have a greater appreciation for the value of theory and research in their classrooms.

Fellows will interact closely with public relations professionals, becoming part of the team during the fellowship. The host will agree to spend up to two days on the educator’s college or university campus with faculty, administrators and students.


  • Application opens: December 11, 2017
  • Deadline for fellowship application: January 31, 2018
  • Notification of selection: May 9, 2018

Application Process

Candidates have two ways to apply for the Educator Fellowship Program.

Option #1:  Complete the application form online through this link.

Option #2: Send via email to the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations (, the following:

  • Personal statement addressing:
    • Areas of special interest or need that you, as a candidate, will hope to develop;
    • Areas of expertise you can contribute to the host organization;
    • Expectations of what you will accomplish with respect to your teaching and research as a Plank Center Fellow; and
    • Thoughts on how you would bring key learnings gained during the Fellowship back to your academic institution for the growth of your department, your students and the larger university.
  • CV/Resume
  • Letter of recommendation from a department chair, director or dean indicating how the Fellowship will enhance your teaching and/or research and how the key learnings gained during the Fellowship will be shared with others at your academic institution.

A committee of public relations professionals and educators will review the applications and make recommendations to the sponsoring organizations, which will make the final acceptance decision. Acceptance will be based on the candidate’s personal statement, research and teaching interests, need for exposure to the industry, and potential contribution to the growth of the sponsoring organization.


Educators selected as Plank Fellows will spend at least two full weeks in the offices of the host organization typically in June or July. They will be given a full orientation to the host organization, the particular department, staff duties and responsibilities, clients and/or projects. Hosts will designate a key professional as the official host and mentor for the visiting professors during their time in residency. In return, educators may use their own expertise to:

  • Conduct a workshop or seminar for the staff of the sponsoring organization;
  • Conduct a research project;
  • Produce a report or white paper highlighting their impressions, key takeaways and recommendations for how the sponsors can develop new proficiencies in a key discipline; and/or
  • Develop proprietary knowledge in existing or new areas of strategic focus.

Upon completion of the fellowship, educators and hosts will be expected to complete an interview session with the Center for feedback on the value of the fellowship for both parties. Also, the educators and hosts will agree to participate in interviews in the public relations and academic media as the Plank Center seeks to provide visibility for the program.

To learn more about the program, download the PDF for more information and reviews from Plank Fellows.

Questions about the Educator Fellowship program should be directed to Dr. Karla Gower at

Grants & Awards


The following links provide information about some organizations that provide funding for public relations projects.

  • Rotary International
  • The Page Center
  • PRSA Foundation
  • Awards

    The following links provide information on some of the industry's awards for achievement in public relations practice.