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Plank Center seeking applicants

Savannah Vankirk

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The Plank Center, a program that provides resources for public relations students, educators and practitioners to further their knowledge and careers, is now accepting applications.

As stated in, in the year of 2005, The Board of Trustees at The University of Alabama established The Plank Center. The center, which is housed in The University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences building, was named for a former public relations editor, Betsy Plank.

“The Plank Center’s mission is to help develop and recognize outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society,” said Jessika White, communications specialist for the The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. “Our founder, the legendary Betsy Plank, known as the First Lady of Public Relations, had a life-long passion for matching educators and professionals so that both would grow together.”

Plank’s idea, White said, was implemented by the Dr. Karla Gower, director of The Plank Center, and board members.

“They designed 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 practitioner-hosts,” White said.

The program, with almost 600 students involved, is the largest undergraduate degree program within the college.

The center’s main goal is developing leaders to become a better version of themselves.

White said students that are majoring in public relations can specifically benefit from the program because they know 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.

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, according to

Throughout the history of this program, a number of agencies and corporations have participated, including such organizations as General Motors, Harley-Davidson, Sprint, Ketchum, Edelman, Deveney Communications, The Home Depot, Johnson & Johnson, Golin, Burson-Marsteller, ESPN, the American Heart Association and others, according to

Applications for this program are due Jan. 31. For more information on how to apply, visit

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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894
Plank Center seeking applicants