Plank Center announces Class of 2014 Educators

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 & Light
  • Dr. Michael Cacciatore, University of Georgia, hosted by Edelman (Chicago)
  • Rebecca Cooney, Washington State University, hosted by Harley-Davidson Motor Co.
  • Aerial Ellis, Lipscomb University, hosted by Johnson & Johnson
  • 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
  • Dr. Roxana Maiorescu, Emerson College, hosted by General Motors
  • Jeffrey Ranta, University of South Carolina, hosted by ESPN
  • Dr. Hongmei Shen, San Diego State University, hosted by Deveney Communications

“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

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