Monmouth’s Communication Journalism & Public Relations (J/PR) program was recertified by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Certification in Education in Public Relations Program (CEPR) on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Having received the initial certification back in 2010, Monmouth stands to be one of only 50 programs worldwide with a CEPR certification.
Alexis Nulle, Specialist Professor of Communication and faculty co-advisor of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), explained that CEPR certification is an optional accreditation for the University. She also said, “This certification demonstrates our commitment to our students and the rigor of our program. This accreditation is the gold standard for public relations education.”
The program must be evaluated every six years, according to PRSA, by an outside review team. This team consists of a public relations educator and a public relations practitioner. While evaluating, they review eight different standards: public relations curriculum, public relations faculty, resources, equipment and facilities, public relations students assessment, professional affiliations, relationships with total unit and university, and diversity and global perspectives.
“The certification process is a lengthy commitment and tedious process,” Nulle explained. “Some schools earn their initial certification and then do not recertify. It takes a team of dedicated faculty members and support from the administration to accomplish this. Starting with your letter of intent to recertify your program, followed by the application process, and then preparing and accommodating a site visit from two reviewers. Then your application is reviewed.”
The evaluators met with current and former Chairs of the Department of Communication, Deanna Shoemaker, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication & Performance Studies, and Aaron Furgason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication, respectively. They also met with Richard Veit, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and David Hamilton Golland, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, in addition to Department of Communication alumni, students, staff, and faculty.
Shoemaker emphasized what makes Monmouth’s Communication department stand out from those at other higher education institutions. “In the Monmouth Communication department, our hands-on and personalized support of our students is signature,” she said. “Our J/PR professors go above and beyond to offer not only outstanding classroom learning, but also professional networking, distinctive internships, and practicums that offer real-world experience.”
In the report “Navigating Change: Recommendations for Advancing Undergraduate Public Relations Education” published by the Commission on Public Relations Education, Monmouth is the first university cited as having a public relations program with effective practices. The publication also states, “[Monmouth’s] PRSSA Chapter provides a valuable source of networking with alumni and the New Jersey PRSA Chapter.”
Mary Harris, A.P.R., Specialist Professor of Communication, J/PR Program Director, and faculty co-advisor of PRSSA confirmed the University’s PRSSA Chapter’s importance to student learning. “We have a talented team of PRSSA and Shadow PR Firm students who are engaged in the local community,” she said. “Being part of this program can amplify a student’s resume because of its exceptional reputation. Students learn according to PRSA national standards within the curriculum.”
Norma Sanchez, senior communication student, is Vice President of PRSSA and acknowledged the significance of Monmouth’s recertification. “It gives me confidence and ensures me that I am receiving the highest quality education in PR possible,” she explained. “I feel as though there is a common misconception regarding communication degrees, when in fact they are needed everywhere. As for PRSSA, I hope we are able to continuously grow and flourish, not just in number count but also in areas of diversity, innovation, and level of involvement.”
The ceremony was held on Wednesday, Nov. 1, where Marina Vujnovic, Ph.D., A.P.R., Professor of Journalism, and Concentration Director of Strategic Public Relations and Social Media Concentration accepted the accreditation on behalf of the University.
“I hope this dynamic group of students and faculty members will thrive and continue to innovate as the field of public relations rapidly grows and changes,” Shoemaker concluded.