Spotlights shine on award winners


Student public relations firm named best in nation. Again

Top-Dog-students-45For the second time in three years—perhaps because the rules don’t allow consecutive wins—UIndy’s Top Dog Communication has been named the top student-run public relations agency in the nation. The Public Relations Student Society of America presented its Dr. F. H. Teahan Award for Outstanding Chapter Firm to the UIndy group in October at its 2013 national conference in Philadelphia. Top Dog, advised by Distinguished Professor Rebecca Deemer, claimed the same award in 2011, based on results achieved for clients and the management and operation of the firm in providing experience for its staff. “One award. Belongs to many,” Deemer tweeted from the scene. Housed in the Department of Communication, Top Dog assembles student teams each semester to tackle real public relations projects for local nonprofit organizations.

The latest award is based on work performed during the 2012–13 academic year, when Top Dog students created—and in most cases implemented and evaluated—PR campaigns for 10 local organizations, including Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, Volunteers of America Indiana Chapter, 100 Black Men of Indianapolis, Indiana Association of Home and Hospice Care, and the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. The students prepared news releases, pitch letters, event plans, informational presentations, and other print and electronic materials to help clients meets goals that included raising awareness, recruiting volunteers, and promoting events. Nationwide, more than 100 student-run firms are operated by PRSSA chapters, but Top Dog is one of only 34 designated as “nationally affiliated” for their effective structure and high level of professionalism. Top Dog Communication also took top honors again in the Public Relations Society of America’s Hoosier Chapter Pinnacle Awards.

An apple for these future teachers

The University of Indianapolis chapter of an international honor society in education has received the organization’s highest award. At its biennial conference in Dallas, Kappa Delta Pi presented its Award for Chapter Excellence to the UIndy School of Education’s Sigma Omicron chapter. The chapter provides leadership and professional development opportunities for UIndy juniors, seniors, and recent graduates ranking in the top 20 percent of their programs in elementary or secondary education. With Professor Nancy Steffel as its faculty counselor, Sigma Omicron has consistently received Kappa Delta Pi’s ACE (Achieving Chapter Excellence) Award, which recognizes excellence in membership, leadership development, and programming in support of the society’s mission. This year, the UIndy chapter claimed the Stratemeyer award by earning the highest ACE score among more than 640 collegiate and professional chapters of Kappa Delta Pi.

Don’t stop the presses

The Indiana state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honored the Reflector and Reflector Online, UIndy’s student newspaper, with eight state-level awards during its May awards banquet. Colleges and universities compete in this contest on an equal basis, regardless of school size. (Others entered in this year’s competition included Indiana University, Ball State University, Butler University, Franklin College, and others.) The competition is judged by out-of-state professionals.  The Reflector and Reflector Online also won five regional-level journalism awards in April in the Region 5 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence competition. Region 5 includes universities in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. Abby Gross, editor-in-chief of the Reflector and the Reflector Online, won a student award in the Hoosier State Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest. The senior Education major claimed first place for editorial/opinion writing, in competition with counterparts from far larger institutions.

And more hardware

The Theatre Department’s October production of Noel Coward’s Private Lives received two coveted Certificates of Merit from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. One went to Assistant Professor Penny Sornberger for her costume designs, two of which were selected for display at the regional festival in Michigan. The collaborative efforts of the students, faculty, and staff on the production team—headed by director Brad Wright, director of Theatre—also were recognized.

Director of Jazz Studies Harry Miedema, already a member of the Indianapolis Jazz Hall of Fame, received the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation’s new Jazz Educator of the Year award in December for his efforts in passing the torch to so many young musicians. Miedema retired in May.