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Dr. Chris McCollough, communications professor at Columbus State University, recently earned his second consecutive Wilcox Award. His paper titled, “Visionary Public Relations Coursework: Assessing Economic Impact of Service Learning in Public Relations Courses,” was recognized as the Top Teaching Paper in Public Relations at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s 2018 national conference.
The study is the product of McCollough’s evaluation of 30 months of economic impact from a year-long, comprehensive service learning project that he and students in his public relations campaigns, public relations management, and senior internship courses conducted on behalf of CSU’s Pasaquan, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, and the town of Buena Vista, Ga. from the fall of 2015 until the Spring of 2017.
Among the findings was that his students’ recommendations and project work have helped the partnership between CSU and Marion County’s Chamber of Commerce to advance major grant awards for community revitalization projects, the establishment of eight news businesses, discussion of seven additional new businesses, the largest growth in housing permit applications in the past decade, a steady tax revenue increase in the region since the fall fiscal quarter of 2016, and a 4 percent drop in unemployment in Marion County.
“It is a rare honor to be the first to win a second consecutive Wilcox Award among so many great colleagues across the country, and to do so at a major conference like AEJMC,” said McCollough. “It is a wonderful case study about the work of my students, our program’s learning model, and the potential impact it can have in improving civic, economic, and community life in our region.”
McCollough will present his paper and be recognized for his accomplishment at the annual meeting of AEJMC in August in Washington, D.C.