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.


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.


  • Application opens: December 2018
  • Deadline for fellowship application: January 31, 2019
  • Notification of selection: May 2019

Application Process

To apply for the Educator Fellowship Program, send via email to the Plank Center (, the following:

  • Personal statement addressing the following questions:
    • What areas of need or special interest do you hope to develop?
    • What areas of expertise would you contribute to the host organization?
    • What do you wish to accomplish with respect to your teaching and research as a Plank Center Fellow?
    • The reciprocal visit, where the host organization visits the Fellow’s college/university, is extremely important. What might you do for the reciprocal visit?
  • 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.

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

Resources of Interest

The Plank Center is committed to helping you expand your skills and advance the practice of public relations.