Kenn Gaither named finalist for PRNews’ Outstanding Educator of the Year award

PRNews’ Social Impact Awards honor communicators who use their platforms to better their own community and the global community at large.

Kenn Gaither, professor of strategic communications and A.J. Fletcher Professor in Communications, has been selected as a finalist for the PRNews Outstanding Educator of the Year award. Gaither is one of six finalists for the prestigious honor, which will be presented at the organization’s Social Impact Awards & Summit in April.

Kenn Gaither

“It is a great honor. But no educator stands alone,” Gaither said. “I share this with my colleagues, who are all outstanding educators.”

The Outstanding Educator of the Year award is one of approximately 40 social impact honors annually awarded by PRNews. The awards recognize communicators who use their platforms to better their community and the global community as well. Vanessa Bravo, associate professor and chair in the Strategic Communications Department, nominated Gaither for the award, and she said she wasn’t surprised to hear that Gaither was named a finalist.

“Dr. Gaither is a superb teacher, an inspiring mentor to countless students at Elon, a prolific researcher and a deep contributor to the life of the university,” Bravo said. “He is also a warm, knowledgeable colleague, always available and willing to guide his coworkers. He is a true leader.”

Since joining the faculty at Elon in 2004, Gaither has been a visible and active member of the School of Communications. In 2021, his contributions were formally acknowledged by the university and he was awarded an endowed professorship – the A.J. Fletcher Professorship in Communications. The honor recognized his continued excellence as a teacher, mentor, scholar and peer educator.

“Individual honors are nice, but they reflect more on Elon as a whole,” Gaither said. “This is a special place to teach and learn every day, and I’m thankful to work in an environment that has spurred my ongoing growth as a teacher-scholar-mentor.”

The Social Impact Awards & Summit will be held April 20-21 at the Ritz Carlton – Pentagon City in Arlington, Virginia, and celebrate 2022’s most impactful communicators.

Following a successful career in public relations, Gaither received his doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Park Fellow and recognized as a top doctoral student. After arriving at Elon as an assistant professor, he was promoted to associate professor in 2010 and full professor in 2016.

Teaching both undergraduate and graduate level courses at Elon, Gaither is known as a “Swiss Army Knife” by his colleagues. In courses such as Communications in a Global Age, Public Relations/Corporate Citizenship, a senior seminar in international public relations and Public Opinion through New Media, Gaither has consistently received high marks from his students while also participating in study abroad programs in Brazil and Turkey. In addition to teaching, Gaither has previously served as director of the Communications Fellows program and recently concluded a long tenure as associate dean.

In 2021, Gaither was named to the Board of Advisors for The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, a leading resource in PR industry.