Colorado State University experienced a golden moment Sept. 24 when James Van Leuven, chairman of the department of journalism and technical communication, received the Swede Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award at the Public Relations Society of America’s Gold Pick ceremonies in Denver.
"He has used his profession to serve effectively, with grace and generosity," said Robert Hoffert, acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
The Swede Johnson award, named in honor of the late Coors executive, is the most prestigious award given by PRSA’s Colorado Chapter to honor people who set the highest standards of professionalism and who provide leadership and guidance to those pursuing careers in public relations, said Teri Grove, president of the Colorado Chapter.
Van Leuven is credited with enhancing the nationwide stature of the journalism department and public relations concentration during his 14-year career at the university. Colorado State is one of only two Colorado universities that have been accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and is the only ACEJMC-accredited school in Colorado with a concentration in public relations.
"I’m absolutely delighted with the selection of Jim Van Leuven to receive the award," Grove said. "He was co-chairman of the accreditation committee the year I was accredited, and I owe much of it to Jim’s instruction. Throughout the years, he has consistently demonstrated commitment and excellence to the public relations profession."
Van Leuven is recognized by peers as a gifted administrator who ably balances the needs of 19 full-time faculty members and about 650 students enrolled on the Fort Collins campus in addition to Colorado State’s Denver Center.
"Jim has devoted his life to advancing public relations as a profession, an academic discipline and as a productive career for the many students whose lives he has touched as a popular teacher and administrator," a colleague noted in a nominating statement.
Van Leuven came to Colorado State in 1985 after teaching four years at Washington State, where he earned a doctorate in sociology in 1977. He previously taught at the University of Idaho and Oregon State University, following a professional career that began with business and editorial positions with weekly papers in Oregon.
Professional activities include the chairmanship of the Educator’s Advisory Committee, a 20-member board that advises The Institute for Public Relations. He also is a member of the national Commission on Public Relations Education.
Van Leuven has served PRSA as director of the Colorado Chapter in 1991-94, and was trainer for the national accreditation examination in 1985-89. He serves on the editorial boards of two leading public relations academic journals, Public Relations View and the Journal of Public Relations Research.
His recent academic interests have focused on international public relations. In 1993-94, he was selected for a Fulbright Teaching/Research Award, and served as a visiting senior fellow at the National University of Singapore.
Van Leuven is the author of five book chapters and more than a dozen refereed research journal articles in a wide range of topics, including corporate organizing strategies; the role of public relations in marketing, public opinion processes and media coverage; the application of social science research to nonprofit organizations; and the measurement of values in public relations.