My friend, colleague and fellow Steelers fan Rob Jewell won an award this past week — a big one by Kent State standards. So please send your congrats to Rob when you get time: firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s one of three “Outstanding Teaching Award” winners this year — and those babies don’t grow on trees.
Rob gets a plaque to hang on the wall along with a small check from the University Teaching Council. But the cash bonus is a pittance when you compare it to the payoff his students have reaped since he joined us three years ago. Ironically, much of that payoff didn’t come in the classroom.
In addition to teaching two public relations classes, Rob mentors and manages the students who work for Flash Communications, our student PR firm. Named for Kent State’s “Golden Flashes” sports mascot, the PR firm operates within University Communications & Marketing and serves university clients.
Since 2003, Rob has tutored 37 students, all part-time employees of Kent State, as they learn the PR process hands-on. Now operating with a full complement of 9-10 students per semester (most of them PR majors), the firm has become an integral part of the Kent State public relations effort.
Flash students provide the bulk of the content for Kent State’s E-Inside employee pub. They also produce about half of the stories for Kent State magazine (our alumni pub), and they work on external publicity initiatives as well as internal events. While most of their activities would be called “tactics,” Rob insists that students develop a mini-plan for every project, just to assure they get the strategic perspective.
As the students in Flash serve the university, they’re also preparing for “required” internships outside the university, and the jobs that follow. So far, it’s working. Seventeen of the 18 PR grads who’ve worked for Rob have gone on to land jobs in public relations. The other one went into sales and is probably earning more than the rest of them! Don’t ya hate that?
Unlike most of us who work for a paycheck, Rob pretty much works for fun. As a fairly young man in his 50s, Rob “retired” from his post as VP, Corporate Communication for BFGoodrich after 29 years in corporate life. His salary at Kent is probably less than his expense account in the Fortune 500 world, but he’s not complaining. In fact, Rob may be wondering why he didn’t seek an academic job sooner. He’s so damned good at it.
So I guess that’s two big victories for Kent State’s Flashes last week. One on the football field, the other in the classroom. May we never forget which one is more important! I know Rob won’t.