Higher Education and Marketing, PR & Advertising

Ex-professor donates to GVSU’s advertising and PR program

$15K endowment will allow students to attend national events.

March 15, 2019
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Frank Blossom Fund
Frank Blossom, in burgundy shirt, teaches a class of GVSU advertising and public relations students. Courtesy Vanessa Lansdale

Advertising and public relations students at Grand Valley State University soon will be able to utilize a recent donation.

An endowment of $15,000 was given by retired professor Frank Blossom in January to the school’s program so students can attend and participate in advertising and public relations events throughout the country.

Faculty members at GVSU named the endowment the Frank Fund after the professor helped to establish opportunities for students to work with corporations such as Amway, Meijer and OST.

Blossom created “The Bloom Group” at GVSU, which was aimed toward being a practice model of large firms. Its purpose was to solve problems for “a company from initial client meeting, to pitch, to implementation and finally evaluation.”

Adrienne Wallace, GVSU professor for the advertising and public relations program, said Blossom created independent study opportunities for students to work with major corporations so students were able to address real-world problems and also empower them to create real-world solutions.

“The money actually came from the companies that Frank and the students work with on projects,” said Tim Penning, professor for GVSU’s advertising and public relations program. “The companies donated money to the university development (department) as part of the students doing these special projects.”

Blossom, who has been working in the public relations and advertising industry for years, worked as an affiliate professor at GVSU for about 10 years.

“He was such a big proponent of practical application of concepts,” Wallace said. “Not just sitting in a classroom and doing your learning out of book necessarily, but getting your hands dirty and sort of getting out into the world and practicing. So, taking all that rich information you learn in a classroom and then applying it in real life.”

Although Blossom was able to raise the funds through professional services, Wallace said the program needs an additional $15,000 to meet the university’s threshold of $30,000. She said they hope to reach that financial threshold through other gifts.

Once the fundraising is accomplished, GVSU officials plan to use the money for students’ airfare and registration for professional development conferences.

Penning said there are approximately 500 GVSU students majoring in advertising and public relations, and they serve about 70 clients per year.

“When students are going to conferences, they self-fund through their student group,” he said. “Sometimes, when it is a student-run firm, they charge clients and use some of the funding from that. They can also get assistance from the Student Life Office, but they have to offset a lot of the cost with their own money. So, this Frank Fund will be another way to support them participating in those opportunities.”

The advertising and public relations program also has workshops to help students prepare their own portfolios and sharpen job interview skills, among other things.

Aside from conferences and workshops, Penning said in the classes he teaches, students will have several clients, and they’ll do a media kit for them that the clients sometimes use as is and sometimes use with minor revisions.

In his corporate communications class, Penning said students do communication audits of companies’ current marketing tactics and write a communication plan that can be anything from an ad or brochure to a newsletter or online content.

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