PR Education


Training for the public relations profession has certainly grown over the years as well. Edward L. Bernays, who many consider the father of the profession, taught the first one-semester-credit public relations course in 1923 at New York University’s School of Commerce, Accounts, and Finance. Bernays had just written Crystallizing Public Opinion, a foundational book for the field. By 1946, 30 colleges offered 47 courses. The Public Relations Society of America’s first comprehensive survey of public relations education in 1956 found that the number of colleges offering courses had tripled in a decade. Another PRSA-financed survey in 1970 identified 303 institutions offering one or more courses and increasing scholarly research activity. The 1981 Commission on Public Relations Education estimated that 10,000 students were taking public relations courses at some 300 institutions. Now, there are respected public relations programs at most major universities in countries around the globe.

In 1963, the San Diego PRSA chapter (46 members) proposed offering a course in public relations at then-San Diego State College (now San Diego State University). PRSA members volunteered to each teach a chapter from Scott Cutlip and Allen Center’s Effective Public Relations textbook. After 30 students completed the course, the College established a public relations course as part of the ongoing curriculum. Frederick C. Whitney, who was one of the volunteer lecturers, would later earn a Ph.D. and become the first professor of public relations in the Department of Journalism. The public relations curriculum now resides in San Diego State University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies, and is considered a center of excellence on campus and enjoys an international reputation.

San Diego educators and practitioners alike have written books that contribute to the body of knowledge in public relations, prepare those entering the practice and help practitioners stay current. When Allen Center began teaching part-time at SDSU in 1976, the university became identified with the long-time leading textbook and reference, Effective Public Relations. Center also authored, and later co-authored, the leading case study textbook, Public Relations Practices: Managerial Case Studies and Problems (1975, 1981, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2003, 2008), developing many cases while teaching the senior management case study course at SDSU.

Glen Broom joined the SDSU faculty in 1979, becoming the second full-time professor of public relations. He became co-author of Effective Public Relations for the sixth through ninth editions (1985, 1994, 2000, 2006) and authored the recently released Cutlip and Center’s Effective Public Relations, 10th ed. (2009). The book is used in universities worldwide, with recent editions translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, Japanese, Latvian, Russian and Spanish languages.

In 1980, David Dozier became the third full-time professor of public relations hired at SDSU, and collaborated with Broom to co-author the research text, Using Research in Public Relations: Applications to Program Management (1990).

Former PRSA Counselors Academy president Tom Gable has published four editions of The New PR Client Service Manual (1993, 1997, 2001, 2005) and is nearing completion of the fifth edition. Kerry Tucker–chairman of the San Diego firm, Nuffer, Smith Tucker–co-authored (with Doris Derelian and Donna Rouner) three editions of Public Relations Writing: An Issue-Driven Behavioral Approach (1989, 1994, 1997). The book was unique in that it incorporated behavior theory as a foundation for developing message strategy.

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