Amy Struthers, Ph.D.
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Amy Struthers, Professor of Advertising and Public Relations, served as Interim Dean of the college from January 2018 to July 2020. Under her leadership, the college experienced enrollment growth in both the undergraduate and graduate programs, had the highest four-year graduation rate on campus, doubled participation in the college's Learning Community, and increased alumni engagement including a 182% increase in new donors. Struthers initiated a year-long celebration of the 125th anniversary of the first journalism class offered at UNL, created a Homecoming Reunion for all alums and specifically piloted Multicultural Homecoming activities, one of the ways a focus on diversity and inclusion became a college priority. In addition, a new college core curriculum was developed and launched, representing a commitment to ensuring excellent writing skills for all graduates. The college added a Media Production option, led the campus in creating and offering innovative "pop-up" classes, and launched two graduate certificates in PR & Social Media and Financial Communications. Struthers led searches resulting in the hire of nine new faculty members and six new staff members, increasing the diversity across the college.
Struthers served as graduate chair from 2016-2018, increasing enrollments by meeting the need in Nebraska and around the world for online graduate education in communications, both professional journalism and integrated media communications. She prepared the launch of the college's first graduate certificate (PR & Social Media) and managed the approval process for a second certificate (Financial Communications).
Struthers is the faculty founder of Jacht, University of Nebraska–Lincoln's student advertising agency, supported by investment firm Nebraska Global. The agency is a unique hybrid of credit-bearing class and a revenue-generating startup. She served as director of Jacht for eight years, from its launch in 2010 to 2018. Her research on experiential learning has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the selected pieces below:
EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION IN A STUDENT-RUN STARTUP: A CASE STUDY OF A FOR-PROFIT , FOR-CREDIT ADVERTISING AGENCY
OWNED AND OPERATED: A SURVEY OF STUDENT-RUN ADVERTISING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS AGENCIES AT ACEJMC ACCREDITED INSTITUTIONS
Struthers also founded the college's National Student Advertising Competition team in 2004-2005. By 2012, the team won the national championship.
She received the College Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2011, the American Advertising Federation's Most Promising Minority Student Nominator award in 2010, was selected as a scholar in the Advertising Educational Foundation's Visiting Professor Program in 2006, posted at McCann Erickson New York, and received the college's Outstanding Faculty Service Award in 2005.
Struthers' research agenda includes work in public health messaging, particularly to teen audiences. She worked closely with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for seven years on a collaborative project to develop and implement an effective campaign encouraging high school students to be more physically active and make better food choices. Initially funded by a University of Nebraska–Lincoln Layman Research Grant, this project became part of ongoing CDC support and each year was implemented in public and private high schools across the state. Thousands of Nebraska teens were impacted by the work. Publications based on this work include:
Buzz Agents in a Teen-Driven Social Marketing Campaign: Positive Campaign Attitude Leads to Positive Changes in Health Outcomes
Health buzz at school: Evaluations of a statewide teen health campaign
Struthers has been part of two interdisciplinary teams of researchers working on large health-related grants. The first, a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) called The World of Viruses, was a five-year grant that funded development and testing of innovative materials about viruses such as HPV and HIV/AIDS, for dissemination through non-traditional channels such as tablet apps.
A second grant for $1.8 million, titled The Omaha Science Media Project, tested the hypothesis that high school students can learn science better when given the tools and training to produce media about science topics. Virology was the science focus of this project, and students as well as teachers in the Omaha Public School system participated in summer workshops to learn media storytelling, using the latest in video and audio equipment.
Working with both undergraduate and graduate students, Struthers has researched the social phenomenon of trends using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, helping to shed light on the dissemination of ideas and product with particular audience segments. Her work in this area was funded by the Archrival Faculty Fellowship for Trend Research.
Struthers was awarded a Cooper Foundation grant to develop promotional campaigns for international activities in the college, which was doubled with a match from an anonymous donor. She reignited the college's study abroad program in 2006 with a five-week immersive program in Paris that combined international media studies and French language learning in a unique interdisciplinary course. As interim dean, she once again reinvigorated the student travel in the college, with trips to China and Oman, and, prior to COVID restrictions, India, Turkey, and Spain.
For nine years, Struthers served as advisor to a vibrant student chapter of the American Advertising Federation, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Ad Club, founding the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's student team for the National Student Advertising Competition. She has served on University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Faculty Senate, has been a member of the Senate's executive committee and represented the college as a commencement marshal for more than a decade.
Prior to joining the CoJMC faculty, Struthers was a marketing professional for 15 years for IBM and for a variety of programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was the first full-time professional advertising manager of the Daily Nebraskan. Struthers graduated Phi Beta Kappa from University of Nebraska–Lincoln with bachelor's degrees in English, French and Comparative Literature and was a member of Mortar Board. She was a Newspaper Fund reporting intern at the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Struthers earned a master's in French language and literature following her teaching in the French public school system. She joined the College of Journalism and Mass Communications in January 2003.