In the fall, the Public Relations department was accredited the Certification in Education for Public Relations.
Dr. Kathleen Rennie, head of the program, said she worked diligently all summer with the help of faculty and students to earn the CEPR, but this was only the first step.
She said the application letter was about 40 pages and then reviewers had to come to campus for three days to see how the school functioned.
“I knew that this program was top notch but we needed to prove it to others with objective evidence,” Rennie said. “To get it you need to show that you deserve it.”
Rennie said she initiated the research for Seton Hall University to get the certification.
“It was my big summer project. That was my major to do. As I tell my students, you need to do time management and plan things out,” Rennie said.
With the help of students and staff members, research was compiled from over 400 Public Relations books, and numerous scholarly journals, according to Rennie.
She said the applications approval met for a three day agenda for reviewers to analyze the school and the Public Relations department.
“They were very specific of who they had to visit,” Rennie said. “They took a tour of the campus, met with the PRSSA executive board, talked with the career center, talked with faculty members who do not teach PR but have PR majors in the class and did classroom visits.”
Students were heavily involved with coordinating the administrative throughout their visit and “they gave a glowing report of the program and gave us the CEPR but also gave us suggestions,” Rennie said.
The certificate awarded lasts for five years and the public relations department is now working on the suggestions made by the CEPR reviewers. The department is now formalizing a public relations advisory committee and is going to include a broader range of members, according to Rennie.
She said another improvement being made is the hiring of a second faculty line in September with a Ph.D. The reviewers made the suggestion that the department cannot only be dependent on one faculty member.
“We are going to continue raising the bar,” Rennie said. “We are going to make improvements of the recommendations – and show them that they were taken seriously soon after their visit.”
Rennie also said she applied to be a fellow which is the highest name for a Public Relations practitioner.
There has been a social media class added to the Seton Hall curriculum, including social media emphasis in classes beneficial to students for the real world in practicing public relations, according to Rennie.
“Seton hall is not officially part of the pilot program,” Rennie said.
But she said she is taking the initiative to teach as if “we have the pilot program at the University.”
Rennie said this shows the dedication the school has to advancing the class curriculum and educational standards. Incorporating PR to the business school gives students a broader understanding of the business world.
“Even though we were not asked to be in the NBA initiative, we took our own initiative and taught classes, and the business school wants more,” Rennie said. “We will go back and say we did this, we are a program of over performers.”
Natalie Negrotti can be reached at Natalie.firstname.lastname@example.org.