Radford PRSSA honors Vincent Hazleton with name change
For the past 20 years, the Radford University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) helped burgeoning public relations professionals hone their skills on campus.
Now, as the student-run chapter prepares to enter its third decade, it does so with a new name: the Vincent Hazleton Chapter of PRSSA.
Hazleton, a professor in the School of Communication, served as the chapter's original adviser during the charter process in 1994 and in years after. Although others have taken on the role, Hazleton has had a profound effect on public relations students at Radford.
The initiative to name the chapter after Hazleton took place in fall 2013 when students decided to honor his support of their organization. The name change was spearheaded by then-President Dakota Carter '13.
"We went to a national conference for PRSSA with Dr. Hazleton and we saw how much he affects people in our field," Carter said. "When we learned about how people around the country think of him, we really pushed for the name change."
After a month of making the case to the PRSSA national board, the new chapter name was approved and it was announced on Dec. 13, 2013. Carter, who went on to graduate days later, counts the experience as one of her favorites at RU.
"He's so humble about his work," she said of Hazleton. "Seeing the look on his face was one of the most meaningful things I accomplished at Radford."
Hazleton was not aware of the effort his students were undertaking and the announcement came as news to him.
"It was a total surprise, but a very good one and a great honor," Hazleton said. "PRSSA has been very important to me as an educator. It's a connection between the professional industry and the academy and it's extremely valuable to our students who take advantage."
Although Hazleton is a fixture at RU, his work resonates nationally. His achievements include various book chapters and journal articles, and two books for which he received the “Book of the Year” award from the Public Relations Division of the National Communication Association for his book "Public Relations Theory." He also developed communication programs for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and has been a consultant to Virginia State Parks for over 12 years.
"Dr. Hazleton is one of the faculty members who have been here for a really long time and he has been invaluable to our students," said Lynn Zoch, director of the School of Communication. "He has graduates across the country doing every possible job in the public relations industry, even teaching."
Because PRSSA aims to provide professional development opportunities to its members, an active advisor like Hazleton is a key ingredient. He is always there to assist students in attending conferences of networking with professionals.
"He's so well known in his field and it benefits the students," Zoch said. "If Vince Hazleton says they are good, then they are good."
PRSSA is a national network of more than 11,000 college students who put their education to work as practical application. The organization offers scholarships, networking opportunities and conferences that let members meet other students and public relations professionals.
According the Haley Frazier, the current president of RU's Vincent Hazleton Chapter, the new name will be accompanied by a recommitment of RU PRSSA to networking, development and teamwork.
"Our goal is to work with fellow members, fellow communication majors and alumni to make this the best organization we can."
PRSSA is an important facet of public relations education at RU. The concentration in public relations, which is certified by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), prepares students for positions as professional communicators by providing a combination of technical communication skills and theoretic knowledge necessary to make them competitive for entry-level public relations positions.