Ovaitt, Bowen Honored at PRSA Conference

Frank Ovaitt, APR, president and CEO, Institute for Public Relations, was selected as the recipient of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) 2011 David Ferguson Award, presented at the PRSA Educators Academy reception held during the PRSA 2011 International Conference. The David Ferguson Award recognizes outstanding contributions to public relations education by a practitioner.

“I didn’t come from a rich family, but now I know what it feels like to be heir to something big and important,” said Ovaitt. “From David Ferguson through every person who ever received this award, I’m proud to carry on the legacy.”

Ovaitt has held a number of executive-level communications positions, including vice president, corporate affairs, MCI, and executive adviser, BTM Corporation. In 1995, Ovaitt founded Crossover International Inc., and led the communications effort to lobby the U.S. Congress on the largest scale telecom legislation in 60 years.

“The Ferguson Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a public relations professional by the Educators Academy of PRSA,” said PRSA Educator’s Academy Chair Dean Kazoleas, Ph.D., APR. “Named after David Ferguson, a longtime contributor to public relations education, this prestigious award recognizes outstanding contributions to the advancement and betterment of public relations education on the part of a public relations professional. Frank Ovaitt is an excellent choice for the Ferguson Award. Ovaitt, and his work with the Institute, nourishes public relations educators. He validates our hard work, whether it is pedagogical or supporting the practice.”

Dr. Shannon A. Bowen, a member of the IPR Measurement Commission,  was awarded the Jackson Jackson & Wagner Behavioral Science Prize by the  (PRSA) Foundation during the Monday general session. This award recognizes individual behavioral science researchers whose scholarly work enhances the understanding of the concepts and theories that contribute to the effectiveness of public relations practice.

“This award by JJ&W and PRSA is an important moment for our field: my body of research on ethics winning this prestigious recognition emphasizes the centrality of ethics to our profession,” said Dr. Bowen. “Ethics is a crucial part of top management at any organization, but in PR, with such an enormous role in the formation of public policy, ethics is the key to determining the responsibilities and status of the industry. I am delighted that this award highlights the primacy of ethics to our emerging profession,” she continued.

Dr. Bowen is associate professor at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and is a member of PRSA. She specializes in communication ethics, strategic communication management, issues management, dominant coalition decisions, public relations theory, organizational communication, social media and engagement, and the intersection of organizational culture with ethics.

About the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)

PRSA is the largest professional organization serving the U.S. public relations community. With a mission to “advance the profession and the professional,” PRSA provides news and information, thought leadership, continuing education and networking opportunities; sets standards of professional excellence and ethical conduct; and advocates for the business value of public relations and greater diversity among public relations professionals. Based in New York, PRSA comprises 112 local Chapters; 14 Professional Interest Sections that focus on specific industries and practice areas; and the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), which is active at more than 320 colleges and universities.


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