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Public relations program seeking accreditation

Story by Taylor Soule

Photos Courtesy of Halli Kubes

DrakePRSSA2-w2000-h2000The Drake University public relations department is working toward accreditation, a nod that would affirm the program’s increasingly global impact and industry-focused curriculum.

It’s seeking accreditation through the Public Relations Student Society of America’s Certification for Education in Public Relations (CEPR) program.

For Kelly Bruhn, an assistant professor in the PR department, accreditation would validate the hard work of Drake faculty in adapting the curriculum to meet industry changes.

For students, accreditation could ease the job search.

“One of my dreams since I arrived at Drake (is to get accredited),” Bruhn said. “I’ve been very active in our industry, and these credentials are held in high regard. It’s a chance for employers to know the caliber of work you have done and how prepared you are for a job coming from the PR program here at Drake.”

Like the program’s rise in the international PR community, accreditation isn’t a quick process.

The Drake PR program, which includes three full-time faculty, began writing the application two years ago — and the finished product totaled nearly 100 pages.

Another critical stage in the process arrived last week, when CEPR accreditors completed a three-day, on-site visit at Drake.

If the Drake PR program earns accreditation, it will be recognized in Washington, D.C. in October.

DrakePRSSA-w2000-h2000Though the application process marked a stressful time for Bruhn and the PR program, the desire to affirm the skills of Drake students and alumni motivated the entire department.

“I take it very seriously that my job is that I am a steward of years and years of Drake alums and their degrees,” Bruhn said. “That makes me the most nervous, that we know how great we are and the work that we produce here and the alums that are in our family. I just hope that we wrote an application and that the materials that we provided illustrated that.”

Jennifer Glover Konfrst, an assistant professor in the PR program, echoed Bruhn’s determination.

Though she recently joined the School of Journalism and Mass Communication faculty in 2013, Konfrst is eager to share the program’s cutting-edge curriculum.

“We’re doing internationally impressive work here, and the CEPR designation would signify that to the rest of the industry and raise our profile,” Glover Konfrst said. “We are already meeting these standards. We want the rest of the world to know it, too.”

Drake PR students also want to show off their program.

“We’ve known how great (the PR program) is,” said junior Taylor Larson. “It’s time that others know that, too.”

Though first-year Savana Morrison arrived on campus last semester, she already praised the program’s elite status.

“I think it’s great that the program is getting accredited and will be recognized on a national and international stage,” Morrison said. “Just from what I have observed my freshman year here, the PR program is very deserving of it.”

As PR faculty and students await the verdict, they’re keeping the nerves in check.

After all, they’re busy adapting to the ever-changing public relations environment.

Still, the prospect of an October celebration is never far away.

“This is an exciting time for the PR sequence here and we’re looking forward to celebrating this great accomplishment (if accreditation is approved),” Bruhn said.

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