UA’s Plank Center Announces Educator Fellowship Class

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


Ten educators will be placed in the offices of sponsoring organizations for two to four weeks this summer. The 2014 fellows and their hosts are:

  • Dr. Alisa Agozzino, Ohio Northern University, hosted by NextEra Energy/Florida Power & LightAlisa Agozzino copy
  • Dr. Michael Cacciatore, University of Georgia, hosted by Edelman (Chicago) Mike Cacciatore Website
  • Rebecca Cooney, Washington State University, hosted by Harley-Davidson Motor Co.Rebecca at Harley website
  • Aerial Ellis, Lipscomb University, hosted by Johnson & Johnson Aerial Ellis
  • Dr. Flora Hung-Baesecke, Hong Kong Baptist University, hosted by Edelman (Chicago)
  • Dr. Rajul Jain, DePaul University, hosted by USAA
  • Dr. Hua Jiang, Syracuse University, hosted by Sprint Nextel Hua Jiang Website
  • Dr. Roxana Maiorescu, Emerson College, hosted by General Motors Roxana Maiorescu
  • Jeffrey Ranta, University of South Carolina, hosted by ESPNJeff Ranta Website
  • Dr. Hongmei Shen, San Diego State University, hosted by Deveney Communications Hongmei Website

“Key beneficiaries of the fellowship are public relations students who 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 of their classrooms in today’s public relations work,” said Rick White, chief communications officer for Wisconsin Energy Corp. and Plank Center board member.

The Plank Center’s mission is to bridge the gap between education and practice. The program seeks 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.

Many educators, including Dr. Alisa Agozzino, blog about their Fellowship experience. The blog is a testament to the hands-on experience she received, center organizers said, and it highlights what she obtained for her classroom.

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 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 consecutive 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  

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state’s economy, is in keeping with UA’s vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state’s flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Jessika White, communications specialist, 205/348-7250,
  • SOURCE: Dr. Karla Gower, director, Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, 205/348-0132,

Resources of Interest

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