Murphree Chosen for Plank Center Fellowship

Murphree Chosen for Plank Center Fellowship

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The following is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi

A faculty member in The University of Southern Mississippi's School of Mass Communication and Journalism has been selected for a fellowship in public relations with the Plank Center for Leadership.

Dr. Vanessa Murphree, associate professor and graduate coordinator for the school, was one of nine educators from across the country chosen for the prestigious fellowship that provides opportunities for skill enhancement through the organizations sponsoring each fellowship. This is the seventh class of fellows selected by the Center.

The Plank Center's goal for the program is bridging the gap between education and practice by seeking to combine academia with real world experience. Plank Fellows partake in research projects, training sessions and presentations, and assist with company projects. In return, practitioners from host organizations visit the educator's campus to interact with faculty, staff and students to share industry knowledge, trends and valuable insight.

The Plank Center was founded by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees in 2005. Its namesake, the late Betsy Plank, was an advocate of lifelong learning for public relations practitioners.

"This program will enable me to bring the most up-to-date information to the classroom and my research agenda," Murphree said. "The experience will also help me build a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities in public relations education, while building professional relationships that can create networking and professional opportunities for my students."

Murphree teaches public relations and other mass media courses, and her research focuses primarily on the relationship between public relations and social change. She is the author of The Selling of Civil Rights: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the use of Public Relations. The American Journalism Historians Association awarded her with a 2003 honorable mention for her dissertation and a 2005 award for "best American Journalism article."

After earning her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Alabama, Dr. Murphree pursued a career in public relations and advertising, working first as an advertising copywriter and then coordinating the communications component of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a national medical organization based in Birmingham. She spent the next six years managing communications for the Center for Applied Environmental Public Health at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Dr. Murphree has served on the board of directors of the American Journalism Historians Association and the Mobile chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama. The state PRCA honored her as 2009 State Educator of the year. Before joining the USM faculty, she served as an assistant and associate professor and graduate coordinator at the University of South Alabama and as an assistant professor and instructor at Loyola University New Orleans.

For information about the Southern Miss School of Mass Communication and Journalism, visit To learn more about the Plank Center Fellowship for Educators program, go to