This article was originally published in the University of Tennessee-Knoxville newsletter. You can find it here.
Two 1994 University of Tennessee Public Relations alumni, Travis Parman and Mary Beth West, have joined forces to honor Dwayne Summar by increasing funding for the existing Dwayne Summar Public Relations Endowment. Their $35,000 collaborative gift will enrich the learning experiences of current and future public relations students and expand the fund’s reach and impact. The new funding will be used by the Director of the School of Advertising and Public Relations to fund student attendance at annual national professional development and leadership conferences such as those offered by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Funds could also be available for student engagement in PRSSA voting delegations or other events and activities.
Travis Parman, an executive with Nissan, is currently on a foreign service assignment with Groupe Renault in Paris, France. He is an emeritus PRSSA national president and former professional advisor. In addition to serving as a member of the UT College of Communication and Information’s Board of Visitors, Parman also serves on the Belmont University College of Communications Board of Visitors and is a Western Kentucky University adjunct professor. In 2009, Parman was selected for PR Week’s “40 Under 40.” In 2015, he received the UT Accomplished Alumni Award.
Mary Beth West, principal of Mary Beth West Communications, LLC, is a CCI Honorary Board of Visitors member in recognition of her many years of service on the board. As UT’s 2013 Public Relations Alumnus of the Year, West has an extensive record of service to such organizations as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), East Tennessee Foundation and many others. She is the 2010 recipient of the David Ferguson Award, a national honor from the PRSA Educators Academy for her support of public relations education.
“Travis Parman and Mary Beth West are shining examples of how effective alumni can be when they give back to their alma mater,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “Both Travis and Mary Beth have been aware of the need to provide additional funding for students to participate in national PRSSA activities through their hands-on involvement with the School of Advertising and Public Relations, and we are very grateful to them for this wonderful gift!”
“As a Torchbearer (’61) and the only University of Tennessee alumnus to serve as PRSA’s national president, Dwayne Summar represents a level of career excellence in our field and service to our profession that inspired Travis and me while we were UT students and continues to this day,” West said. “Enhancing the impact and reach of this fund – to help more UT students gain the experiential learning benefits of PRSSA’s national-level program – is emblematic of Dwayne’s impact on Travis’ and my early careers. It also reflects Dwayne’s lifelong example of the Tennessee Volunteer spirit in service to others and to our shared future.”
When Parman and West’s gift is added to the existing Summar fund, the Dwayne Summar Endowment will be the first $100,000 fund at UT specifically for public relations students’ professional development via PRSSA.