Name: Michael Smith, Ph.D.
Hometown: Caseville, MI
College: Central Michigan University, B.A.A.; Graduate School: Central Michigan, M.A. and M.S.A.; Purdue University, Ph.D. in Communication
Courses Taught at La Salle: Undergraduate and graduate courses in Public Relations, including Principles of PR, PR Writing, Organizational Communication, and PR Seminar. Graduate course in Communication and Conflict. Also teaches in our graduate program in Prague, Czech Republic
Activities at La Salle: Community Service Scholars Selection Committee; Advisor, Public Relations Club; Faculty Senate; Mediation Committee Chair; Director, Graduate Program in Professional Communication; First Director, Graduate Program in Professional Communication and Public Relations, Prague, Czech Republic
What does your service-learning course include?
I use service-learning most often in my senior Public Relations Seminar. Students work with nonprofit organizations to create, execute, and evaluate public relations projects. These range from planning special events to creating campaigns. Public relations helps nonprofit organizations raise awareness of their work and gain resources to help address community needs.
How did you become involved in service-learning?
I've been doing service-learning for over 10 years. I began while I was still a doctoral student. La Salle and Philadelphia afforded me a great opportunity to continue doing service-learning, and that's one reason why I decided to teach at La Salle.
Why do you think service-learning is valuable to students?
Well, I'd rephrase the question: Service-learning doesn't work unless it's valuable for all the parties involved. Students gain real-life public relations experience
and, often, samples for their portfolios. More importantly, they gain a better understanding of the role that community service can play in their lives. Our
community partners gain some valuable public relations assistance that helps them address their communication needs and further their missions of solving
What can you say about service at La Salle?
St. John Baptist de La Salle founded his schools, in part, to serve the poor in his community. Today, “poverty” comes in all forms—economic, physical, spiritual, etc. La Salle University makes it possible for every person—faculty, staff, and students—to continue that mission through service-learning, community service, and our service trips. We prepare students to make a living, as well as a life, of good works.