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Public Relations Professor Receives Career Achievement Honors

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June 16, 2009-Houston-
Julie Fix wears a host of hats at the University of Houston's Jack J. Valenti School of Communication (JJVSoC). As the school's director of undergraduate studies and an instructional professor, she coordinates semester schedules, teaches, mentors students and advises the UH chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) among many other crucial tasks.

This month, her tireless efforts in preparing the next generation of public relations (PR) practitioners are being applauded by her industry peers. Fix is the recipient of the Houston chapter of the Public Relations Society of America's  (PRSA) Excalibur Legacy Award honoring outstanding contributions to the field from professionals who have been active for 25 years or more. Fix will accept her Legacy award June 18 at the PRSA Excalibur awards dinner.

"All of the previous recipients of this award have made significant contributions to the profession. To be in the company of so many talented professionals is a great honor," Fix said.

Since Fix was a child, there was little doubt in her mind that she would pursue a career in communication. The daughter of veteran PR pro Ken Brasel, she watched him hard at work delivering statements and issuing releases for Southwestern Bell.

"When my dad would go to the Houston Press Club, back when it was based at the Rice Hotel, he would take me along," she said. "I used to joke that I grew up at the Press Club. Seriously though, being among all of these journalists and PR professionals was very educational and also helped influence my career goals."

Fix graduated from UH with a bachelor's degree in journalism and is accredited in PR through PRSA. She has applied her expertise as a communicator to positions at the Houston Chronicle, Baylor College of Medicine, Fort Bend Mirror and her own public relations agency, Fix and Associates. She also taught high school journalism and history at C.E. King High School in the Sheldon Independent School District.

Fix has received awards for her diligent work in PR from the Texas Press Association, Texas Public Relations Association (TPRA), Houston Press Club and the Houston chapter of PRSA.

In 1998, she brought her extensive knowledge of writing and public relations to UH classrooms as an adjunct instructor. Six years later, she became a full-time member of the faculty and has been a driving force in the JJVSoC's advertising/public relations program. Her courses focus on PR principles, writing, crisis communication and campaigns. She also has been the faculty adviser for the university's chapter of PRSSA, a professional development organization that cultivates relationships between students and PR practitioners.

"As a former student, I can say that Julie played a major role in my development as a PR professional," said UH alumna Heather Martin, development coordinator for Communities in Schools. "She is a great teacher, mentor and someone I continue to look up to as I further my career."

In 2007, Fix became the school's director of undergraduate studies. In this position, her administrative talents are put to good use as she meticulously schedules undergraduate classes each semester, recruits adjunct lecturers, manages budgets and ensures that the school meets students' demands for specific courses.

Working with students has been the ultimate reward during her 10 years with UH. She admits that she never set out to be a college professor, but it's been the best thing that could have happened in her career.

"After I began teaching at UH, I was hooked," she said. "I think this is where I am supposed to be. I enjoy helping students prepare themselves for a profession that's constantly evolving. Of course, it helps that UH attracts such talented students."

When she is not at UH, she finds time to volunteer for committees and at events for both PRSA and TPRA. She is past president of TPRA, past chairman of the Public Relations Foundation of Texas, past treasurer of Houston PRSA and is currently serving her second term as PRSA assembly delegate

"Julie balances many important responsibilities and does so with enthusiasm, patience and professionalism," said Beth Olson, director of JJVSoC. "No matter how much she has going on, she always is responsive to students' needs and the strength of our public relations curriculum. For that, I am grateful that she's been a part of the university for the past 10 years."

As part of UH's College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), JJVSoC offers undergraduate and graduate degrees focusing on a wide range of communication studies. Bachelor's concentrations focus on public relations, advertising, journalism, corporate communication, health communication, media studies, media production and interpersonal communication. Master's concentrations are in public relations studies, speech communication, health communication and mass communication studies. Curriculum is taught by the school's acclaimed faculty, including media veterans and award-winning scholars and researchers.

Among the school's esteemed alumni are CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz, former White House press secretary Peter Roussel, former ABC News reporter Tom Jarriel, filmmaker Walter Coblenz, sports journalist and author Mickey Herskowitz, Houston Rockets broadcaster Bill Worrell and Houston KPRC-TV, Channel 2, anchor Dominique Sacshe. To learn more about the school, visit www.class.uh.edu/comm/.

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