Mackenzie Ross Wins Bruce K. Berger Award

Feb 13, 2018

On Saturday, February 3, Mackenzie Ross, a graduate student at The University of Alabama, was named the recipient of the 2018 Bruce K. Berger Graduate Student Leadership Award.

The Department of Advertising and Public Relations at The University of Alabama established this award in 2013 to honor one graduate student in the advertising and public relations Master of Arts program for exemplary leadership. The students in the M.A. program vote and select the student who best demonstrates passion for work and the public relations profession, exemplifies a strong ethical orientation and employs an inclusive style of leadership.

“I think the most touching part of receiving this award is the fact my fellow classmates voted and selected me for this award,” said Ross. “Their confidence in and recognition of my leadership ability is truly touching.”

Ross currently serves as the graduate assistant for The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and as a graduate teaching assistant for the Department of Communication Studies, teaching Public Speaking labs. She graduated summa cum laude from The University of Alabama last May with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Information Sciences. During her time as an undergraduate student, Ross received the Susan Colvin Prize, honoring the top student in the College of Communication and Information Sciences; the William P. Bloom Premier Award, recognizing one student for outstanding service and collaboration; and The University of Alabama Outstanding Senior Award.

Upon completion of her master’s degree in August, Ross will move to Nashville, Tenn. where she has accepted a job offer in the Investor Relations and Corporate Communications Department at Tractor Supply Company.

This award is named after professor emeritus Dr. Bruce Berger, who served as the first director for The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, and most recently served as the research director for The Center. Berger’s research focuses on public relations leadership and garners acclaim both in the profession and academia.

“When I came to UA almost five years ago to begin pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public relations, I began hearing about a professor named Dr. Bruce Berger,” Ross said. “Everyone talked about his incredible success in the industry and academia and the legacy of leadership he’s left. Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Dr. Berger, and I aspire to emulate the success and servant leadership Dr. Berger has illustrated throughout his career.”

Dr. Joseph Phelps, chair of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, presented the award during The Plank Center Board of Advisors dinner at Sweet Home Food Bar. Since its inception, the presentation of the award has been tied to The Plank Center and its focus on producing servant leaders in the field of public relations.

About the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations: The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations is the leading international resource for practitioners, educators and students who are passionate about advancing their careers and the public relations profession. Led by a national advisory board of leading educators and practitioners, the Center develops and recognizes outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society. Founded in 2005, the Center is named after Betsy Plank, the first lady of PR. Betsy’s legacy and vision continues on in the Center’s programs and initiatives to advance the profession and public relations education. For more information, please visit