“This is the right time, DePaul is the right place,” says Ron Culp, describing his decision to join the university as professional director of the graduate program in public relations and advertising, College of Communication.
Culp — former partner and director of the North American Corporate Practice of Ketchum, a global public relations agency — is working with graduate faculty to recruit adjunct instructors and create new academic programs to prepare students for post-graduation career opportunities. Culp teaches the graduate-level course Career Strategies for Public Relations and Advertising.
Ketchum and other firms participate in a program sponsored by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, whose mission is to advance leadership values and skills in public relations and to bridge the gap between education and practice. Each year, the center places an academic in our corporate setting for two weeks so we can exchange ideas and share experiences of real-world communications.
"In 2010, I requested a professor from a local university, and Teresa Mastin from DePaul was selected. A few months later, she asked whether I’d ever thought about teaching. Next thing I know, I’m teaching the spring quarter class on leadership in public relations," recalls Culp.
"That class — and the response of the students — became a ‘life changing’ moment.
When offered the opportunity to become the professional director of the graduate public relations and advertising program, I jumped at the chance. Funny, ever since beginning my career many years ago I had always thought I might like to end up in the classroom. Now, I’m hooked!
"DePaul and I are a natural fit for a few very important reasons.
"First, I’m attracted by the university’s entrepreneurial spirit. A good portion of my job is outward-looking as I help introduce our program and students to more agencies, corporations, and professional organizations. A lot of universities hire professionals into academic roles, but few take the time to reach out to potential students and employers. When I’ve taught in the past, my classes always had a strong connection to the working world, and DePaul shares that pragmatism. As a result, our graduates are unusually comfortable in the real world. They know what to expect, and they typically find the work they want.
"Second, I love DePaul’s mission. As a first-generation college student myself, I really “get” that aspect of what we do. In my own education and career, I’ve had amazing teachers and mentors. Now, it’s time for me to give back and do the same for others.
"Third, every day I wake up happy to be going to work! How lucky am I?"
Ron Culp has spent 38 years in corporate and agency public relations. As a partner with Ketchum, he ran oversaw the agency’s Midwest offices and headed the North American Corporate Practice. His corporate career included senior positions at four Fortune 500 corporations (Sears, Sara Lee Corp., Pitney Bowes, and Eli Lilly), as well as a seven-year stint heading the communications department of the New York State Assembly.
Culp serves on the boards of the Lincoln Park Zoo, Gilda’s Club Chicago, and the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. He has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Arthur W. Page Society, the PR Hall of Fame Award from PR News, and the prestigious John W. Hill Award from the New York chapter of Public Relations Society of America. For the past six years, he has been listed in Crain’s Chicago Business’ Who’s Who in Chicago Business.