Success, service earn honor for Communication prof


UIndy faculty member Rebecca Deemer has been named to a three-year term as University Distinguished Professor of Service Learning.

An assistant professor in the Communication Department, Deemer is the first to occupy the new endowed position, which is supported by revenue from an anonymous $645,000 gift the University received in 2011. Deemer, a 1997 UIndy graduate, is the faculty advisor for the student-run public relations firm Top Dog Communication, which develops strategic communication plans for several local nonprofit groups each year.

Since 2007, she has led the firm’s students in providing free assistance to nearly 50 off-campus organizations, including March of Dimes, Girls Inc., Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Fletcher Place, and the Humane Society of Indianapolis. Top Dog was named national Outstanding Chapter Firm for 2011 by the Public Relations Student Society of America. Local honors have included several Pinnacle Awards from the Hoosier Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, including student Best of Show in 2011.

In her University Distinguished Professor role, Deemer will receive time as well as financial support for various activities related to service learning. Chief among them is working with faculty colleagues to incorporate the concept into their programs, with the goal of establishing student-run agencies that would provide free services in graphic design, professional writing, event planning, and other fields.

But before she begins that work in the fall, Deemer will spend two weeks this summer on a national Fellowship for Educators from the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. The program promotes the exchange of ideas between PR practitioners and educators. Deemer’s fellowship will be in the Overland Park, Kansas, office of Bill White, senior vice president of corporate communications and corporate social responsibility for Sprint/Nextel.