EKU program re-certified in PR by PRSA

Photo courtesy of Eastern Kentucky University

Dr. Jim Gleason, Mikayla Estepp, president of the EKU Chapter Public Relations Student Society of America, and Dr. Kathy Previs accepted the plaque recognizing the recertification of the EKU Public Relations program.

The public relations major in the Department of Communications at Eastern Kentucky University has earned Certification in Education for Public Relations (CEPR) yet again.

The CEPR certification is administered by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Educational Affairs and requires the program be evaluated every six years by an outside review team consisting of a public relations educator and a public relations practitioner. EKU is the second-longest university in the world to hold this distinction. Only 40 programs worldwide are certified. Thirty-four of those are in the United States.

“Earning the prestigious recertification is quite an honor,” said Kathy Previs, associate professor of communication. “It is not only beneficial for our program and for our students upon graduation, but it also enables the public relations program to distinguish itself from other programs in the country and the state, as EKU is only one of two collegiate public relations programs in the Kentucky to be certified.” The other being Western Kentucky University.

“Graduating from a program that has been certified by PRSA, the nation’s largest professional organization serving the communications industry, enables students to feel confident about their education when entering the public relations field,” said Previs.

Pervis welcomed the evaluators who visited EKU in April earlier this year. As the public relations lead and contact for the CEPR, Pervis spearheaded the needed preparations to ensure the department's success for the certification. The CEPR team met with Dr. Deborah Givens, Chair of the Department of Communication; Dr. Sara Zeigler, Dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences; EKU President Dr. Michael Benson; and students, staff and faculty representing the Department of Communications and a variety of programs across campus.

The public relations program was evaluated on eight standards: public relations curriculum; public relations faculty; resources; equipment and facilities; public relations students; assessment; professional affiliations; relationships with total unit and university; and diversity and global perspectives.

Three initiated into Phi Kappa Phi

Three students from Eastern Kentucky University were initiated into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, one of the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for academic disciplines.

Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors are eligible for membership. Graduate students in the top 10 percent of the number of candidates for graduate degrees may also qualify, as do faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction. The three students from EKU join about 30,000 other students, faculty, professional staff and alumni to be initiated into Phi Kappa Phi each year.

Some of the organizations most notable members have included former President Jimmy Carter, NASA astronaut Wendy Lawrence, novelist John Grisham and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley.

The students initiated are Wendy Highbarger, Cassady Patterson and Jessica Sutton.

Universities make gains in bachelor's degrees, graduation rates

Across Kentucky, graduation rates and degrees awarded have increased despite deep budget cuts and lower enrollment into public four-year institutions.

In mid-November, the Council of Postsecondary Education heard about the increases, among other things, during annual performance presentations by campus presidents. Bachelor's degrees increased 2.6 percent for the 2017-18 academic year, totaling 19,109 awards.

For six-year graduation rates, which climbed to 54.4 percent in 2017-18, increased 3.2 percent. Over the past five years, graduation rates have shown consistent improvement overall and for low-income and underrepresented minority populations.

“Momentum is building on our campuses around the types of innovations that equip students for success. We congratulate our public universities for meeting and exceeding many of their performance targets,” said Council President Aaron Thompson.

The CPE also heard that the first-to-second year retention rate held steady at 76.9 percent with an average number of 138.8 credit hours earned at graduation remaining steady as well.

To place your school news, event or photos in the Education Notebook email kskovran@richmondregister.com. Add "Education Notebook" to the subject line when submitting. Reach Kaitlyn Brooks at 624-6608; follow her on Twitter @kaitlynskovran.

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