West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism professor Dr. Rita Colistra takes pride in making a difference in the classroom and in the community. Now her professional peers are recognizing her efforts.

Dr. Colistra, assistant professor of public relations in the School of Journalism, recently won three prestigious awards for her dedication to teaching and community service. The projects included “Buy Local” campaigns in Ritchie County and Fairmont, W.Va.; campaigns to promote the WVU Center for Civic Engagement; and The House That WVU Built, a Habitat for Humanity partnership.

In June, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s announced Colistra as the first place Promising Professor Award recipient, a national honor given to new faculty and graduate students who demonstrate excellence and innovation in teaching. Colistra’s “strong commitment to the classroom” was noted in the award letter. AEJMC will present the award at their national conference in August in Chicago, where Colistra will also present on the Promising Professors and Distinguished Educator Panel.

The West Virginia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America also presented their Crystal Award for Educator of the Year to Colistra in June. The award recognizes a PRSA member who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of public relations education through college or university teaching. This was the inaugural year for the award.

In addition, the WVU Center for Civic Engagement recognized Colistra earlier this spring with its Faculty Excellence Award, honoring her continued dedication to service learning and civic engagement.

“I am so incredibly honored to receive these prestigious awards,” said Colistra. “My students are an inspiration. Their professional transformations remind me that putting the extra work into my projects and classes is worthwhile, and their successes keep me motivated to try new things.”

School of Journalism Dean Maryanne Reed says Colistra’s dedication to her profession, her students and the state of West Virginia is what being a faculty member is all about.

“Dr. Colistra’s approach to teaching gives students the chance to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world situations,” Reed said. “She also instills in them the value of giving back to the communities they serve – a lesson that will carry with them long after they graduate.”

Colistra is a native of Rockcastle, W.Va., and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WVU’s School of Journalism and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina.


cv 06/27/12

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CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, School of Journalism