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SUNY Plattsburgh Announces Public Relations Major

SUNY Plattsburgh’s Center for Communication and Journalism announced a change in its public relations offerings today.

Already approved by the State University of New York, a public relations major will take the place of the college’s current public relations/organizational communication concentration. One of only three such majors in the SUNY system, it will provide a more intense program of study that includes an emphasis on both theory and hands-on application.

To ensure academic rigor, the department will adhere to guidelines established by the Public Relations Society of America and will strive to obtain that organization’s Certification in Education for  Public Relations, said Assistant Professor of Communication Colleen Lemza.

“We feel that these guidelines offer the right mix, combining rigorous academics and practical experience,” Lemza said.

Only 28 other institutions of higher learning have obtained this quality-assurance endorsement from what Lemza said is called the leading professional organization in the field.

To earn the certificate, the program will need to go through a review process that will examine the school’s curriculum, resources, facilities and the college’s support of the program.

Should SUNY Plattsburgh receive the certificate, it will be the first school in the SUNY system to do so — a fact that led Communication Studies Chair Peter Ensel to say it would “clearly make the program the premiere destination for public relations education.”

As part of the certification process, Cardinal PR, the student-run public relations agency, will transform into an official Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, offering Plattsburgh students additional career development opportunities to work with clients prior to graduation. 

“PRSSA is the leading student organization for public relations in the industry, and having such an affiliation on our campus will certainly be a benefit to our students and strengthen our program,” said Dr. Jonathan Slater, an associate professor of communication.

In the last 14 years, the public relations offerings at the school have grown from a single introductory course into a concentration with a large number of specialized courses, including public relations management and public relations campaigns.

In fact, since the public relations/organizational communication concentration was established around eight years ago, enrollment and interest in the program have steadily grown to the point where 116 students are now enrolled in the concentration.

Officials at the college expect that enrollment to continue to grow especially as the new major is implemented.

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