Southern PR Hall of Fame Honors Namesake of UA’s Plank Center

Betsy Plank, public relations legend and the namesake of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, has been inducted posthumously into the 2015 Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony was held in the John Grisham Room at Mitchell Memorial Library on the campus of Mississippi State University on Friday, July 31.

Plank, APR, Fellow PRSA, was inducted posthumously along with:

  • Charles Barnette, APR (Posthumously)
  • Allegra Brigham, APR
  • Suzanne Fornaro, APR

Dr. Karla Gower, director of the Plank Center, said, “People don’t tend to think of Betsy as Southern since she spent her working life in Chicago, but she thought of herself that way,” adding, “She was born in Tuscaloosa, lived in four Southern states, finished her degree at the University of Alabama and returned, at the end of her career, to the University, endowing the Plank Center in pursuit of public relations leadership.”

The Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame was established in 2010 to recognize the distinguished accomplishments, commitment and leadership of professional public relations practitioners and educators from the Southeastern United States.

Inductees are current and former southern public relations practitioners or educators who have brought honor to the PR field. Inductees are recognized for their extraordinary achievements, accomplishments and contributions to their organizations, communities and the public relations profession.

For more information, visit the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame website.

About the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations

In 2005, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees established The Plank Center, named for public relations leader and UA alumna, the late Betsy Plank, to develop and recognize outstanding performance in the profession and classroom. Through a variety of programs, and in concert with groups and associations, the Center works to nurture and help develop outstanding leaders.

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 that represents more than 11,000 members in 300-plus colleges and universities.

The Center is housed in UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences. UA’s public relations program, with nearly 600 students, is the largest undergraduate degree program within the College. The program is certified by the Public Relations Society of America and for six years has been ranked among the top five public relations programs in the country by PRWeek magazine.

More information about the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations can be found at



Our Mission

The Plank Center’s mission is to help develop and recognize outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society. The Center works 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 diverse, 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.