By: Cassidy Martenson
Professor Kim McInerney, Public Speaking Program Coordinator and Senior Lecturer in Communication Arts, won an IU-system-wide Faculty Academy on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) award for Community Engagement. McInerney received the award on Feb. 12 for her course, JOUR-J 429, more commonly known as Public Relations Campaigns.
McInerney began teaching at IU South Bend in August 2010 after working professionally in public relations for the American Cancer Society and the University of Notre Dame. In her courses, McInerney focuses on bridging the gap between the classroom and the real world through her community-based courses. She has been offering Public Relations Campaigns for over six years to connect her love for IU South Bend to her passion for the greater South Bend community.
McInerney designed the course to give students the opportunity to create a comprehensive public relations campaign for a local non-profit organization. Students research and analyze the non-profit organization to develop a campaign that they present to the organization at the end of the semester.
“The class offers students a high stake, real opportunity at putting together a campaign that a local non-profit will consider using,” McInerney said.
While students gain firsthand experience, the non-profit organization receives research, strategy, communication tactics and evaluation measures that they can implement. Last year’s non-profit, the Ferry Street Resource Center, was impressed by the dedication shown by the public relations students.
“The hard work that you put in, it is actually going to result in some very useful material that we are going to implement, and we are going to use,” Ric Pawloski, Executive Director, told the class.
While Public Relations Campaigns has been offered for years, McInerney says it wasn’t until she got involved in campus faculty groups a few years ago, working on defining the importance of community engagement on campus, that she really started to understand how much classes like this impact the lives of students. The impact that the Public Relations Campaigns course has on the community and IU South Bend students exemplifies the values of the FACET Community Engagement Award through its creativity and community ties.
FACET awards are given to IU faculty who exemplify passion, creativity and innovation within the classroom. FACET selects three finalists for each award category from the large pool of applications sent in from all IU campuses. Finalists then submit a five-minute presentation that all FACET members review and vote upon to determine the winner. The Community Engagement Award is awarded to a faculty member that implements an effective community engagement activity in their course.
“The Communication Studies department is thrilled that Professor McInerney’s outstanding work is being recognized. Her commitment to community engagement projects in courses like JOUR-J 429 are engaging and preparing students for real-world experiences,” Kari Wilson, Department Chair and Associate Professor of Communication Studies said.
While there is typically a weekend faculty retreat and ceremony for the winners, COVID-19 forced the ceremony to be moved online. The award winners received a certificate, a $100 reward, and a crystal award. To read more about the FACET awards and recipients visit https://facet.iu.edu/programs-events/innovate_awards/winners-and-finalists.html.