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Nance McCown, PhD, co-chair of the Department of Communication and Associate Professor of Communication Messiah College, Grantham, PA, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Ernest R. McDowell Award for Excellence in Public Relations. Her duties at Messiah College include serving as Faculty Liaison for Enrollment Management, Leading the Search Committee for Assistant Professor of Communications and Public Relations, serving on the Long Range Plan ‘Theme Two’ Team (Fall, 2015), Actively involved with alumni engagement, Nance serves on the advisory team for “The Bridge,” Messiah’s college alumni magazine, and provides strategy for and oversees maintenance and updating of department social media Facebook page, department website (including strategizing and editing work of student writers completing articles on department news, alumni profiles, and her department’s blog).  

“Nance is especially good at connecting her classes to community needs.  Her scholarly profile has been increasingly significantly, and she was awarded a sabbatical to pursue some of her scholarly interests related to Public Relations in the coming year,” said Peter K. Powers, Dean, School of Humanities, Messiah College.

In addition to the respect of Messiah’s faculty and staff, Nance’s students have said the following about their teaching experience with her via the website ‘Rate My Professors’:

“I took her class as a free elective to develop writing skills and got what I asked for. She expects a lot from her students, but that's how we learned. The class convinced me to pick-up a Public Relations minor”.  – December 2014

“I really liked Dr. McCown this semester. The class, like most, is what you make out of it. She is very clear on what she expects and the workload is not too difficult. Study terms/concepts you learned for the exams. Follow the guidelines she has for the speeches and you will do fine. She makes class fun, which is a big plus.” – May 2014

“She exemplifies excellent teaching. I highly recommend taking her class. Although you will probably write more for her than for the other instructors, having her as a teacher and friend will be worth it. Words cannot express how much I appreciate her.” – January 2012

With reviews like that it’s no wonder Nance was the 2011 recipient of the Robert and Marilyn Smith Excellence in Teaching Award. In addition to her professional endeavors, Nance finds time to volunteer, serving as Student Outreach Committee Co-Lead, Pennsylvania Public Relations Society (2014-2016), Faculty Advisor, PRSSA-Messiah College Chapter, Worship Leader and Vocalist, West Shore Free Church, Mechanicsburg, PA, Past Youth Mentor, West Shore Evangelical Free Church, Mechanicsburg, PA, and volunteer consultant with Forgotten Voices International, a ministry partnering with local churches in Africa to provide customized orphan care and sustainable income strategies for families.

“At the present time, Nance serves on a regular basis as a vocalist on our worship team. She is always a dedicated and passionate contributor, and cares deeply about genuine worship.However, her more significant role as a youth mentor over youth worship ended a few years ago. It was certainly a significant ministry!” said John Nesbitt, Executive Pastor, West Shore Evangelical Free Church. 

Crystal Hull, 2012 McDowell Award Winner, describes what many see in Nance that makes her especially deserving of this year’s award, “I believe Nance is one of the most kind, compassionate, upbeat, inspirational individuals that I have ever met. Her professional achievements are outstanding and her contributions to our profession immeasurable through her work as a professor and student advisor. Through her community involvement and church volunteering Nance has and continues to make a positive impression in shaping the lives of our youth, regardless if they are interested in becoming PR professionals.” 

Nance’s thoughts on receiving the Ernest R. McDowell Award: “I am humbled to be honored with the 2016 Ernest R. McDowell award. I imagine, with Ernie’s amazing example to follow, that no one who previously received this recognition felt truly worthy at the time, and I would express that same sentiment. It’s a privilege and pleasure to do the work I do, serve the community through volunteer work, and pour into my students as they prepare for their futures. I consider the latter, walking with students as they develop their skills and challenging them to strive for excellence with the highest regard for ethical PR practice, to be one of the better reasons to get out of bed and work hard every day.” 

Congratulations Nance! Please join PPRS in honoring Nance's contributions to our field at the Evening of Honors on Nov. 10. Click here for details and to register. 

For information about sponsorship opportunities for the Evening of Honors, contact Leslie Amorós at

NOTE: This article is an excerpt from Nance’s nomination form.

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