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SMU's Chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America Wins Three National Awards at Conference

Southern Methodist University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) won three Frederick H. Teahan Awards at the PRSSA National Conference held this week in San Diego. SMU received top honors for Outstanding Chapter Development, Outstanding PRSA/PRSSA Chapter Relationship, and Outstanding Chapter Faculty Advisor, winning a total of $800 in addition to two plaques and a trophy.

Entries for the Teahan awards are submitted from among the 300 PRSSA chapters at colleges and universities nationwide. SMU won in all three of the categories it entered.

Christy Baily-Byers, APR, the SMU chapter’s faculty advisor, received the Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award for her “dedication and creative chapter guidance, effective student motivation, exceptional contributions to public relations education, supportive chapter advocacy and representation within the academic department and with the PRSA sponsoring chapter and its members.”  Baily-Byers, a lecturer in the Division of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs (CCPA) at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, reactivated the SMU PRSSA chapter in spring 2008 after it had been inactive for many years. She worked with SMU administrators, PRSSA national headquarters, the PRSA Dallas Chapter and other professionals in the field to establish the chapter, secure funding, appoint leaders, build membership and develop programming that included guest speakers, tours of organizations and a career workshop.

“The fact that our chapter, which has been functioning for only a year and half, won a quarter of the Teahan awards at the national conference really validates the diligent efforts of the faculty, staff and students in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs,” said CCPA Division Chair Mark McPhail. “We are especially pleased with the incredible advancement of the Public Relations Track within the Division, as evidenced by the success of PRSSA.  Even as the division has expanded its interests and offerings, we remain committed to our public relations sequence, which has always played a central role in the success of CCPA.”

“We are especially grateful to the PRSA Dallas chapter and our professional advisor, Gail Chandler, APR, who supported our new chapter from day one, providing mentoring, career advice, internships, networking, scholarships and much more,” added Baily-Byers.

The SMU chapter now has 60 members. Four of them attended the conference, joined by some 1800 students from chapters across the U.S. and abroad.

“Being involved in PRSSA has been a tremendous experience,” said SMU chapter president Cari Perez (’11). “The contacts we make as members and the insights we gain into Dallas businesses have added greatly to my study of communication and economics.”

The Teahan National Chapter Awards are named for the late Dr. F.H. Teahan, PRSA Vice President of Education, and are presented in 12 categories.

The Chapter Development category, open to chapters with fewer than 20 members or those who have a newly activated chapter, considers chapter newsletters, membership drives, fundraisers, relationships with PRSA chapters and members, public relations publications, and overall membership involvement. Entries are judged for exceptional effort and creativity.

The Outstanding PRSA/PRSSA Chapter Relationship category recognizes the strong relationship between the PRSSA chapter and its sponsoring PRSA chapter. Criteria includes programs that encourage interaction (speeches, meetings) between members of the chapters; attendance and assistance by PRSSA members at PRSA chapter events; special support of the PRSSA chapter and its members by the PRSA chapter; internships; professional advisory councils and committees; joint seminars; sharing of PRSSA chapter newsletter and other information with PRSA chapter members; awards and recognition given by the PRSA chapter/members or the PRSSA chapter/members to one another for outstanding performance.

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