Page Center awards grants to scholars for emphases on ethics, teaching

October 08, 2008

The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communications, housed in the College of Communications at Penn State, has awarded $54,000 to 11 faculty members and graduate students from across the country making important contributions to the knowledge, practice and public understanding of ethics and responsibility in public relations and corporate communications.

Of that group, five scholars earned $28,000 to support their work in developing curricula and new methods of teaching ethics and public communication. Exploring new approaches to teaching ethics in public communication was a major theme in this year's Page and Johnson Legacy Scholar competitions sponsored by the Page Center.

In the fourth year of the competition, the Page Center received 43 proposals from researchers at 37 academic institutions and one industry professional. The proposals came from 20 states and four foreign countries.

The researchers represented a wide array of academic disciplines and professional fields and their proposed projects -- while mostly on topics related to corporate social responsibility, media ethics and public relations -- also included international communications, health communications and curriculum development.

The scholars who received grants and the titles of their projects were:

-- Denise Bortree (Penn State), "Ethical Environmental Communication: The Impact of Transparent and Comprehensive Communication on Environmental Legitimacy and the Organization-Public Relationship";

-- Andrew Cohen (Georgia State) and Jennifer Samp (Georgia), "Public Responses to Corporate Apologies: A Study of the Ethics of Corporate Crisis Communication";

-- Tom Cooper (Emerson College), "Enhancing Pedagogical and Curricular Effectiveness: Teaching Ethics to Public Communicators";

-- Deni Elliott (South Florida), "The Ethics of Asking: Philanthropy and Breast Cancer";

-- Erlina Erzikova (Alabama), "Teaching Ethics to Public Relations Students";

-- Kevin Hagopian  (Penn State), "Ethical Dilemmas vs. Tough Choices: Visualizing Ethical Questions in the Journalism Ethics Classroom Through Narrative Film: A Toolkit for Journalism Ethics Educators";

-- Steven K. May (North Carolina), "Handbook of Communication Ethics";

-- Lee Ann Peck, Nancy Matchett (Northern Colorado), "Demonstration Project: An Online Ethics Training Module for Public Relations Professionals"; and

-- Tina Worawongs (Penn State), "The Mattel Product Recall: The Response of a Global Corporation."

The deadline for the next round of grant proposals is March 6, said Cinda Kostyak, the Page Center's associate director.

The Page Center is a research unit of the College of Communications, created in 2004 through a leadership gift from Lawrence G. Foster, a distinguished Penn State alumnus and retired corporate vice president of public relations at Johnson & Johnson. Foster is a former president and member of the Hall of Fame of the Arthur W. Page Society, the nation's leading professional organization for senior public relations executives. The Page Center and Page Society cooperate but function as separate entities.

Arthur W. Page, the longtime vice president for public relations at AT&T, is often regarded as the founder of the modern practice of corporate public relations. He also was a noted educator, publisher and adviser to several U.S. presidents. Page was the first person in a public relations position to serve as an officer and director of a major corporation and, in that capacity, was widely known for management according to the Page Principles, his guidelines for ethical and effective communication with the public for responsible corporate behavior.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supports the Page Center through a major grant is awarded in 2006 to establish and endow a research and education program in ethical leadership--including support for the Legacy Scholar program. The Foundation was established by Robert Wood Johnson, who built Johnson & Johnson from a small family business into the world's largest health and medical care product company and one known for its high standards of social responsibility. The Robert Wood Johnson 1962 Charitable Trust, a private philanthropy of Johnson's heirs, also has made a significant contribution to support the Page Center's work in ethics in public communications and the role of public relations in advancing corporate responsibility.

The Page Center seeks to foster a modern understanding and application of the Page Principles and Johnson's business philosophy by supporting innovative research, educational or public service projects in a wide variety of academic disciplines and professional fields. Further information on the Page Center and the scholar grants may be found online at, or obtained by calling (814) 863-6307.

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Last Updated February 10, 2010