Tri-state educator, media personality receives promotion

A long-time tri-state educator and media personality who has worked for more than two decades in the Portsmouth area, has earned a promotion from his university.

Marshall University recently promoted Terry L. Hapney Jr., Ph.D., from associate professor of public relations and journalism to professor, the highest academic rank among faculty in colleges and universities in the United States.

Hapney, who is a tenured professor in the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SOJMC) in the College of Arts and Media (CAM) at MU, received the promotion based on MU rating him as “Exemplary in Teaching,” “Exemplary in Research and Creative Activity” and “Exemplary in Service” at MU, in the CAM, in the SOJMC, in the disciplines and in the community.

MU President Jerome A. Gilbert wrote in Hapney’s promotion letter that “it is a sincere pleasure to have (Hapney) as a member of our faculty.” Gilbert also thanked Hapney for the “excellent service” he provides to MU.

Hapney, who just completed his 10th year on the faculty in the SOJMC at MU, said the promotion is “one of the greatest honors of my lifetime.”

“I am humbled that my colleagues, dean, provost and president recognized my work in this manner,” Hapney said. “I’m wrapping up my 24th year in higher education. Thanks to my love of PR, journalism, teaching, and research, I’m ready for another 30 or more.”

CAM Dean Don Van Horn said Hapney’s service to the public relations field is extensive, notably the Public Relations Society of America-River Cities Chapter, which serves West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. Hapney is a founding member and served as the first president of the PRSA-RC Chapter.

“This work serves as an excellent model for our students and encourages their participation as interns and affords them excellent job opportunities as they graduate and move into the work force,” Van Horn said.

SOJMC Director Janet Dooley noted Hapney’s writing accomplishments among the reasons to promote him to “Professor.”

“Dr. Hapney is without a doubt a prolific writer,” Dooley said.

Among Hapney’s writing accomplishments is a peer-reviewed journal article titled “Public Relations and the School Superintendent: From Theory to Practice.” It appears in this spring’s issue of The Journal of School Public Relations, a national, scholarly journal dedicated to public relations in K-12 and higher education. It is edited by scholars at the University of South Carolina. Hapney’s research is published twice in another national journalism journal, once in a peer-reviewed journal in Ohio, and once in an international scholarly journal.

In addition, Hapney — who holds graduate faculty status at MU — has written and published hundreds of professional articles for local, state, and regional newspapers and magazines. His radio broadcasting work includes thousands of news stories and newscasts, including stories used statewide by the Ohio News Network. Hapney is a news anchor with the Hometown Broadcasting of Portsmouth radio stations WNXT-AM/FM and WZZZ-FM. Hapney and his son Blake host “Gospel Jubilation,” a southern gospel music show on Sunday mornings on WNXT.

In the area of earning exemplary status in teaching, Van Horn cited the “high number of awards and accolades (Hapney’s) students have received,” including more than 55 state and regional (six-state) awards from the Public Relations Society of America. In 2013, PRSA-West Virginia named Hapney its “Educator of the Year.”

“(The) competitions … include professionals,” Van Horn said. “(This) is testimony to a teacher and mentor who is current in his field and dedicated to preparing students for real-world challenges.”

The CAM Personnel Committee reported that “Dr. Hapney is a truly gifted professor who has consistently received glowing student evaluations.”

“These positive evaluations provided by his students are mirrored by their success in the Public Relations field,” the committee wrote in its recommendation to promote Hapney.

Hapney’s promotion was unanimous throughout the process at MU, consisting of votes and recommendations by the SOJMC Personnel Committee, SOJMC director, CAM Personnel Committee, CAM dean, MU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, and MU president.

Prior to his time at MU, Hapney spent more than a decade as both a faculty member and administrator at Shawnee State University, serving in the Department of English and Humanities, creating, coordinating and teaching in the Communication Concentration in the English bachelor’s degree program, and in the Office of the President as director of communications and assistant to the president. He served four university presidents during his time as an administrator at SSU, and established the Office of Communications there.

Starting his professional media career as a high school junior in 1988, Hapney’s 30 years of radio and television work — in on-air, news, programming, production, promotions and PR, and sales-marketing positions — includes stops in the tri-state at several radio stations, as well as at Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and WCGW-AM/WJMM-FM in Lexington. He also co-hosts (for 20 years, now) the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade television broadcast and webcast with radio personality J.B. Miller from the streets of downtown Ironton. While at WTCR-FM, Hapney was the highest-rated midday and evening air personality in tri-state radio. It was during this time that the Country Music Association named WTCR-FM its “CMA Station of the Year.”

Holding a Ph.D. from the University of Dayton, a masters degree in public relations from Kent State University, a masters degree in journalism from Marshall University, and a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Kentucky, Hapney started his career in higher education in 1994 as a graduate assistant in the SOJMC at MU.