Public Relations Program Joins Elite Group With New Certification
Kent State University’s undergraduate public relations program has joined a select group of fewer than 40 colleges around the world that hold official certification from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
PRSA is the world’s largest and foremost organization of public relations professionals. It sets standards of excellence and upholds principles of ethics for its members. After reviewing a 150-page application, a team from the organization’s Education Affairs Committee visited Kent State in April 2016 to conduct a review of the public relations program. This review included interviews with students, alumni, employers, faculty and administrators, observation of classes, and an analysis of curriculum, job placement rate and other data. PRSA will officially grant Kent State Certification in Education for Public Relations (CEPR) at the organization’s 2016 international conference on Oct. 23-25 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“CEPR is a quality-assurance endorsement for the work of our students, alumni, faculty and others involved in the PRKent program,” said Michele Ewing, APR, associate professor and PR sequence coordinator at Kent State. “It shows that our undergraduate public relations program is among the best in the nation.”
With the CEPR endorsement, Kent State earns new distinction as the only institution in Ohio to house a PRSA-certified public relations program within a school with accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC).
“Public relations classes have been taught in the Kent State journalism program for 80 years, and the public relations program has grown 43 percent in the last four years to almost 200 students,” said Susan Gonders, Ph.D., co-chair of PRSA Educational Affairs. “It has an award-winning PRSSA [Public Relations Student Society of America] chapter, excellent relations with alumni and other practicing professionals and a robust multipronged systematic assessment process.”
The certification report also praised the program’s professional emphasis and its high career and graduate school placement rate – 82.5 percent within the strategic communication field – for Kent State public relations majors within the first year after graduation.
“The PRKent program has allowed me to grow as a person and a professional since my first day in Franklin Hall,” said public relations major Erin Zaranec, president of Kent State’s PRSSA chapter. “Interacting with faculty and staff who are so supportive of each student has allowed me to explore my interests in the PR industry while interacting with professors who have years of experience in the field.”
Aside from the recognition, one of the benefits of the certification process was having noted academics and professionals take a deep look at the Kent State public relations program, said Tim Roberts, undergraduate studies coordinator for Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and associate lecturer in the public relations sequence.
“Having outside PR professionals and educators who understand public relations validate what we are doing, as well as share constructive recommendations, is invaluable,” Roberts said.
The certification team evaluated the following areas:
- Resources, equipment and facilities
- Professional affiliations
- Relationships within the unit and the university
- Diversity and global perspectives
The program will be up for recertification every six years.