The Plank Center Announces Selections for Educator Fellowship Program

Seven educators will have the opportunity to further their industry knowledge, as they will be placed in the offices of sponsoring organizations for two to four weeks this summer.

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama has announced the sixth class for its Fellowship for Educators program.

The 2015 educator fellows and their hosts are:

  • Suzanne Boys, University of Cincinnati, hosted by Ketchum (Atlanta)
  • Vanessa Bravo, Elon University, hosted by Hill+Knowlton Strategies (Tampa)
  • Maria De Moya, DePaul University, hosted by Florida Power & Light (Juno Beach)
  • Elina Erzikova, Central Michigan University, hosted by Edelman (Chicago)
  • Karen Freberg, University of Louisville, hosted by General Motors (Detroit)
  • Jie Xu, Villanova University, hosted by Deveney Communication (New Orleans)
  • Laura Young, Butler University, hosted by Burson-Marsteller (New York & Washington, D.C.)

“We developed the summer fellowship specifically for public relations educators with the dual purpose of exposing professors to current day-to-day operations of the public relations function and to help create an exchange of information and ideas that will enhance the professional development of both the educators and the hosts,” said Dr. Karla Gower, director of the Plank Center.

The namesake of the Center, Betsy Plank, would often say, “public relations people must be lifelong learners.” The Center’s goal with this program is to bridge the gap between education and practice by seeking to combine academia with real world experience, creating an exchange of information and ideas to enhance the professional development of both educators and the host organizations. The educators partake in research projects, training sessions and presentations, and assist with company projects.

In return, the practitioners from the host organization visit the educator’s campus to interact with faculty, staff and students and share industry knowledge and valuable insight.

For further information on the Educator Fellowship program, go to

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 diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society through a variety of programs, and in concert with groups and associations.

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 1,000 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




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