Rita Colistra, professor of public relations in the Reed College of Media, has been named the recipient of the 2016 James and Karen Caveney Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award.
The award, established in 2014, is intended for a “highly-productive” faculty member who demonstrates excellence in teaching and research alongside a demonstrated “commitment to the people of West Virginia.”
Dr. James and Karen Caveney, the alumni sponsors of the award, boast 19 WVU degrees, including eight at the doctoral level, in their immediate family. They are deeply committed to supporting the world-class research and teaching at WVU.
“The Caveneys love to hear about all the successes of Dr. Rita Colistra. She has really made a great impact on the state of West Virginia,” James Caveney said. “WVU is the ‘crown jewel’ of the state. Dr. Colistra and her students are making a big difference in small cities of our state. Great professors change lives forever.”
A national-award-winning professor and scholar, Colistra has been the recipient of a state Public Relations Educator of the Year Award, a national Promising Professor Award, a national PR SuPRstar Award and a Faculty Excellence in Civic Engagement Award, among others.
She has obtained nearly $200,000 in both grant and client funding for her students to implement more than 15 strategic communications campaigns for communities and organizations. In the most recent example of this work, Colistra served as principal investigator and project director for the Community Branding Initiative, funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. Through the CBI, WVU Strategic Communications faculty and students worked to revitalize three West Virginia communities through integrated branding efforts and creative strategies.
“Dr. Colistra’s work is exciting because it truly encompasses all three areas of a faculty member’s role—research, teaching and service,” said Provost Joyce McConnell. “Moreover, by engaging our students in local communities, she is demonstrating to the next generation the power we all have to make a difference in our world.”
Colistra and her students have won 18 Crystal Awards and eight Honorable Mentions from the West Virginia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America for their client campaign work serving West Virginia communities and organizations.
As the recipient of the 2016 Caveney Award, Colistra will receive professional development funds from the Caveney Fund and be recognized by WVU President Gordon Gee and McConnell at the annual faculty and staff awards dinner at Blaney House this spring.