Skip to content Where Legends Are Made
The Rising Tide Apply to UA Make a Gift
Dr. Karla Gower Horizontal gray accent wave, below the hero image. White horizontal accent wave, without gray outline, below the hero image. Capital Campaign seal.

Dr. Karla Gower

As the director of The University of Alabama’s Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and the Behringer Distinguished Professor in Advertising and Public Relations, Dr. Karla Gower is an established leader within The University of Alabama community.

“The Plank Center’s mission is to develop and recognize leaders in public relations,” she said. “All of our initiatives, which are about leadership, mentorship and diversity and inclusion, try to bring three groups together — students, educators and PR practitioners — so we can foster a dialog and interaction between the three. I logistically manage all of those programs and keep the day-to-day operations running.”

In addition to her role as director, Karla also works as an endowed professor in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, using her resources to instill a “passion for public relations” in her students.

“I think the professors and chairs really like the idea of endowed professorships because it gives us a sense that the University appreciates us,” Karla said. “We feel acknowledged for our work. As researchers, we do a lot of work outside of regular business hours. I work all weekend writing and doing other research. I think a lot of us do.”

Karla’s current research relates directly to The Plank Center’s benefactor, Betsy Plank, famously known as the first lady of public relations and for whom the Center is named.

“Betsy Plank left us all of her personal papers, so I’m writing a biography of her,” Karla said. “I use the stipend from the endowment to fund my travel, which has been really helpful. It’s hard to get grants for historical research, so those funds really make a difference in my ability to do research.”

While Karla appreciates the benefits of holding an endowed professorship, her students also reap the reward of the prominent professor.

“Sometimes I use the stipend to help my students pay for registration to a conference,” Karla said. “I know a lot of endowed professors do that. They’ll either help a student with their research or help them attend a conference, which will help them with networking.”

Endowed faculty positions such as Karla’s continue to reinforce the University’s standing as a leader in higher education. Through The Rising Tide, we will add 75 new faculty endowments to drive top-tier learning both in and outside of the classroom.

Waves pictured close.

join the rising tide

give now