APR Program Student Groups Garner Four Student Life Awards

FullSizeR_02The Advertising and Public Relations major program received four Student Life Awards this year.

  • Robin Spring was named “Outstanding Advisor” for her work as faculty advisor of the Advertising Club
  • Adrienne Wallace was named “Outstanding Advisor” for her work as faculty advisor of the GVSU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)
  • Student Sabrina Antcliff was named “Outstanding Vice President” as VP of PRSSA this past year
  • PRSSA earned the “Campus Engagement Award” for the many ways they have been involved on campus



Students Take 3rd in District Ad Competition

Grand Valley State University’s 2018 National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC)

The 2018 GVSU NSAC Team.

team travelled to South Bend, Indiana, to compete in the American Advertising Federation (AAF) District 6 contest on Friday, April 13.  The team, including 22 students, placed third in the largest AAF district contest, which is known as a mega-district.  This year, the client was Ocean Spray Cranberries

Nearly 150 university teams across the US compete in the NSAC.   University teams are tasked with creating a comprehensive advertising/integrated marketing plan for a national client.  The recommendations are documented in a 20-page plans book and delivered to industry judges in a 20-minute oral presentation.  District competitions take place in 15 AAF districts across the nation, including a virtual competition.

“This class is truly an immersive experience because it allows students to have a hands-on learning approach, while still under the direction of an advisor to offer guidance,” said student team member Bethany Garcia. “Having real clients turns the pressure on and brings a level of professionalism to each and every class.”

AAF’s District 6 (D6) has the highest concentration of Advertising/Public Relations academic programs located in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.  Twenty universities competed in the AAF D6 NSAC contest this year, including Michigan State, Purdue, Columbia, Ball State, University of Illinois, Indiana University and others.  Two teams from D6 will move on to the semi-finals in this three-tier competition.  Of the 18 teams that compete in the semi-final round, eight teams will move on to the national competition in conjunction with the AAF ADmerica national conference, this year, held in Chicago.

Grand Valley has been competing in the NSAC contest since 2008 and has placed every consecutive year since 2009; three of those were first place. 

“The competition is fierce as the NSAC is seen as a valuable credential for graduates moving into the advertising profession,” said Robin Spring, assistant professor and advisor of the NSAC team. “The NSAC contest is the oldest and largest student advertising competition in the US and recruiters from prominent advertising agencies often scout at NSAC events.”

This year, GVSU’s NSAC tagline line for Ocean Spray was #EmbraceTheBitterSweet.  The GVSU team recommended an array of interactive and experiential tactics designed to resonate with younger target market and inspire them to engage with Ocean Spray, a brand that has a largely older consumer base.

Lansdale Named First Recipient of Chapman Scholarship

Lansdale copy
Vanessa Lansdale

A new scholarship named in honor of a former Advertising and Public Relations professor has its first recipient.

Vanessa Lansdale will receive the first $1200 scholarship from the Frederick A. Chapman Memorial Public Relations Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship fund was set up with a large initial gift from the family of Fred Chapman in his memory. Chapman, who taught in the Advertising and Public Relations program at GVSU from 1991-2001, passed away in 2013. The scholarship reached full funding last year after a fundraising drive involving current faculty and alumni. The scholarship is for students going into a career in public relations and dedicated to community service.

Before his ten years of teaching at GVSU, Chapman was involved in numerous activities

Fred Chapman

that combined his love of public relations and service. . He spent 36 years in corporate advertising and public relations. He was heavily involved in community service, in which he served numerous positions for various organizations, including local government.

Lansdale represents the qualities the scholarship is designed to support. She is an excellent student, and is very involved outside of the classroom. She is Director of Alumni Relations for PRSSA, a member of the GVSU American Marketing Association, and on the Laker Traditions Team. An APR major with minors in photography and nonprofit administration, she also volunteered her services to take photos for the APR program blog and annual report.

Of campus, Lansdale has been active in community service as well. She is a Springhill Teen Service Volunteer, a vacation Bible school teacher, and a volunteer at Woman at Risk, International.

“Through my major, minors, extracurricular activities, and community service, I have found my passion for nonprofits, public relations, digital marketing, and photography,” Lansdale said of her career goals. “I plan to use these skills to start my own company and provide assistance to nonprofits in the West Michigan community, thus allowing more awareness to be brought to their causes. Using my skills, I plan to give a voice to those who do not have one.”

GVSU Ad/PR Program Gets Involved With Page Society

Dr. Tim Penning in New York.

The GVSU Advertising and Public Relations program recently become more involved with the prestigious Arthur W. Page Society when a professor became a member and a group of students placed in the organization’s annual case study competition. Both happened April 5 in New York City at the Page Society Spring Seminar.

Timothy Penning, PhD, APR, a professor of advertising and public relations in the School of Communications at Grand Valley State University, has been named a member of the Arthur W. Page Society (www.awpagesociety.com).

The Arthur W. Page Society is a professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives who seek to enrich and strengthen their profession. Members are nominated by current members and must be approved by the board. Penning is one of a group of university faculty who are part of the elite organization.

“It’s a real privilege for me to be a part of this group of communications professionals,” Penning said. “Members are the top communications professionals in the largest organizations in the world, who directly counsel the CEOs. I teach that PR is a management function, and these select group of professionals practice it. I hope to learn much from interacting with them.”

Penning added that his association with the Page Society will also benefit students in the GVSU Advertising and Public Relations program as he brings current practice and insights from professionals into the classroom. It may also lead to high-profile guest speakers and networking.

Penning is a former journalist and public relations professional who started teaching full time at GVSU in 2001. In addition to his teaching and research, he is the coordinator of the Advertising and Public Relations program.

Meanwhile, a group of GVSU Ad and PR students placed third in the Case Study Competition in Corporate Communications.

The Case Study Competition in Corporate Communications, which is sponsored by the

The GVSU student team is honored as third place winners in the case study competition at the annual dinner in New York.

Arthur W. Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), awards students whose original case studies best examine the practice of corporate communications in a business issue or crisis. This year’s competition drew 105 entries from 36 communications and business schools across the country.

Students on the Grand Valley team included Aaron Robert, Brianna Olson, Brooklyn Wilson, and Erin Stehlik. Adrienne Wallace was the faculty advisor. Their case was about Target’s transgender bathroom policy. Teams from DePaul University claimed first and second place.

“This case study competition truly challenges students to take a 360-degree view of how communicating around a program or issue can have a significant impact on the overall business of an organization,” said Dr. Tina McCorkindale, President and CEO of IPR. “Winning this highly-competitive award is a great honor.”

The annual competition is judged by a panel comprising Page Society members and members of Page Up, a membership organization for senior-level communicators who have the potential to rise to a CCO or another executive role.

“I am very proud of my team for working this hard outside the classroom,” said Aaron Robert. “To compete and place alongside graduate students nationwide is a testament to our worth ethic and knowledge of public relations. We are honored to represent the GVSU APR program on a national level.”

Frederick A. Chapman: Awarding Public Relations Students


Scholarships are very helpful for students as they make their way through their higher education. Of course, everyone wants to avoid graduating with loads of debt! Students are grateful to receive assistance in any way. However, when scholarships are available for all different students, the competition can be tough. This being said, GVSU’s Public Relations students have a wonderful opportunity to apply for a scholarship that is specific to them.

The GVSU School of Communications and Advertising and Public Relations department are proud to announce The Frederick A. Chapman Memorial Public Relations Scholarship! This scholarship is in honor of former Grand Valley professor, Frederick Chapman, who taught at GVSU from 1991 to 2001.

The scholarship is for full time undergraduate juniors and seniors in the School of Communications with a declared major in Advertising and Public Relations. Applicants must have a Public Relations emphasis and also have an interest in community service. They must be accepted or currently enrolled at GVSU and have a GPA of at least 3.2. In the application, students are asked to describe their career goals in Public Relations as well as describe their commitment to community service. The award varies, is not renewable, and financial aid may be considered but is not required.

Students can log in and apply for the scholarship here. The deadline to apply is March 1st, 2018, so start your application as soon as possible!


Before his ten years of teaching at GVSU, Chapman was involved in numerous different activities. He spent 36 years in corporate advertising and public relations. He was heavily involved in community service, in which he served numerous positions for various organizations. After his passing in 2013, his family members, colleagues, and alumni generously contributed to this scholarship fund in his honor. Without their help, this scholarship would not be possible for our students.


We’d love to keep this scholarship available for our students in the future! If you’d like to donate to the fund, please go to the APR website. You can donate under the Give Today box. Any size donation is appreciated.

Frederick Chapman’s contribution to GVSU’s Advertising and Public Relations Department is greatly appreciated. In addition to the scholarship, the lounge area that’s outside of the APR faculty offices in Lake Superior Hall has been named “Chapman Corner” in his honor where you can find a street sign with his name.


For more information about Chapman’s life, please click here.

Recent Grad Named PRSSA Gold Key Winner

Jaclyn Ermoyan, a 2017 graduate of the GVSU Advertising and Public Relations Program, has earned the PRSSA National Gold Key Award. The award goes to students who excel in their academic study of public relations, have pursued ambitious professional development opportunities and are leaders in their PRSSA Chapter. It is the highest individual honor given by the national organization.

Ermoyan WMPRSA Award
Ermoyan speaks at the WMPRSA Awards after being named PR Student of the Year.

In May, Ermoyan was honored by the West Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (WMPRSA) as its Student of the Year for 2017.

While at Grand Valley, Ermoyan served as the CEO of the award-winning, student-run public relations firm GrandPR, which is a part of the GVSU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). In this role, she managed a team of more than 25 students and various projects for community clients. As the CEO of GrandPR, Ermoyan participated in the 2016 Public Relations Student Society of America’s National Conference as a panelist and expert in student-run firm processes, organizational structure, retention and success.

Ermoyan also went beyond the APR major to be involved in the GVSU community. She was a co-creator of Humans of Grand Valley in 2013, which shares Laker experiences and aims to encourage a strong sense of community on campus. Ermoyan was also an integral part of planning the TEDxGVSU event in February. She was the 2017 recipient of the Thomas M. Seykora Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Campus Community.

During her time at Grand Valley, Ermoyan gained professional experience working in University Communications, the Career Center and University Development, and participated in the Cook Leadership Academy. She is currently doing a post-graduate internship at Quicken Loans.

NSAC Team Wins District 6 Competition

Grand Valley State University’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team took first place in the American Advertising Federation (AAF) District 6 competition on April 21st. AAF District 6 is a “mega-district” due to the large number of collegiate teams competing from Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois who are all vying for a chance to move forward to the finals at the AAF National Convention—known as ADmerica—taking place in New Orleans in June.

NSAC team
(Pictured from left to right) Front row: Addison Wittry, Elizabeth Konen, Rachael Vruggink, James Sturtridge, Alex Rabideau, faculty advisor Robin Spring. Second row: Joey Parks, Bethany Garcia, Hawra Al-Howaishy, Marai Behovitz, and Kat Wille. Third row: Jaclyn Waligora, Kate Lewis, Madeline Schaefer, Theresa Wierenga, and Alex Knaisel. Fourth row: Dan Goobers, Ari Zucker, Abbie Fielding, and Ashley Barrett.




The team, comprised of 19 students, crafted an advertising campaign to meet specific objectives for national client Tai Pei frozen foods. Assistant Professor Robin Spring, of the GVSU Advertising and Public Relations Program, was the team’s advisor.  Students worked on the project for two semesters by conducting research, refining strategy, producing tactics, and perfecting their campaign plans book and 20-minute presentation.

The District 6 competition was broken into two tracks, with Grand Valley’s team placing first in the Blue Track, ahead of other schools, including: Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Purdue-West Lafayette, Ball State, University of Illinois and others. Grand Valley edged out Western Michigan University and Ball State University in the final round.

“The amount of talent on the team is incredible,” said Addison Wittry, one of the Account Executives of the project. “When that is paired with the hard work and dedication we had, it was no surprise that we were successful.”

“Our team’s diverse skillsets were the real game changer,” said Rachael Vruggink, the team’s second Account Executive. “We weren’t all just creatives or strategists, but a well-rounded group from different majors and backgrounds. This took our critical thinking, strategy, and creative from good to great.”

The team will compete in a semi-final round on May 4th. Of approximately 150 competing across the US, just eight move on to the national finals in June. This is the third time Grand Valley has placed first in the district in the 10 years they’ve competed in the contest.   The National Student Advertising Competition was started in 1973 and is the oldest and largest student advertising competition.

Grand Valley State University NSAC 2017 team members include:

  • Rachael Vruggink       Account Executive, Presentation Team
  • Addison Wittry           Account Executive
  • James Sturtridge          Creative Director, Video/Photography
  • Elizabeth Konen          Research Director, Presentation Team
  • Mari Behovitz             Integrated Promotions Director
  • Abbie Fielding             Media Planning Director
  • Alex Rabideau             Account Planning, Integrated Promotions, Presentation Team
  • Ari Zucker                   Account Planning, Media, Presentation Team
  • Dan Goubert               Creative Team, Copywriting
  • Joey Parks                   Creative Team, Graphics
  • Madeline Schaefer       Creative Team, Graphics
  • Alex Knaisel               Research Team, Treasurer
  • Bethany Garcia            Research Team
  • Kat Wille                     Research Team
  • Jaclyn Waligora           Media Planning
  • Kate Lewis                  Media Planning
  • Theresa Wierenga        Integrated Promotions
  • Ashley Barrett             Integrated Promotions
  • Hawra Al-Howaishy   Fundraising