Public Relations Students Celebrate Patty Silverman's Retirement
Public Relations professor Dr. Patty Silverman is officially retiring and, to thank their beloved professor, her students threw a surprise party on April 10 in the lobby of the Communication Arts Building.
Silverman, according to Department Chair Dr. Joel Kailing, is one of the founders of the Public Relations major at Lee University and the driving force behind making the department the degree it is today.
“She had a lot of opposition at the time, but eventually she was able to get her way. You try telling Patty Silverman ‘no,’” Kailing said while laughing.
A red herring Public Relations Students Society of America, PRSSA, meeting was held upstairs to lead Silverman to believe it would be her official send-off, while, in reality, more than 60 people were downstairs waiting to celebrate.
Mackenzie Borden, PR student and PRSSA member, said the club worked hard to pull off the event.
“They’ve had this planned for weeks, and keeping it from Patty was not the easiest thing to do. She’s quick to pick up on this sort of stuff,” Borden said.
Decorations of silver and gold lined the walls of the lobby and hors de oeuvres were served to attendees, made up of both students and colleagues, as they mingled.
A photo booth was available as a medium for guests to preserve memories of the night, and
While guests were in the midst of a Kahoot game of “How Well Do You Know Patty,” Silverman herself began to descend the stairs, flanked by some of her students, and a large cheer erupted.
After greeting several people with kisses and hugs, Silverman took her seat, and the speeches of gratitude by Debra Robbins, Bethany McCoy, Victoria Forhetz, and many others began.
McCoy, who works as a professional advisor for PRSSA, had much praise for her former professor and current employer, who was one of her main influencers in guiding her career post-graduation.
“After I graduated college, I had a need for encouragement. And when Dr. Silverman sees a need, she fills it. I truly cannot imagine this department without her,” McCoy said.
Victoria Forhetz, PRSSA President for 2016-2017, had much to say about the Christ-like qualities she has observed in Silverman for years.
“People always say we should stand out so others can see Christ in us. Never have I seen that so exemplified as it is in Patty Silverman,” Forhetz said.
In addition to celebrating Silverman that evening, Forhetz was honored with the Award of Excellence in PR, and Amy Marona was given the 2017 Silverman PRSA Award by the PRSSA President elect, Cody Aulidge, as Silverman proudly looked on.
A video compilation was also shown of many PR students such as Halle Camilleri and Apryl Jaye Raymond, relating funny stories and expressing their immense gratitude to Silverman.
To close out the evening, Silverman cheerfully took the podium to thank attendees and pray over her students.
“When I think about leaving Lee, my students are going to be the hardest to say goodbye to. What I got from this school is much more than I could have ever given away.”
Silverman said she plans, among other things, to take plenty of trips, spend time with her family, participate in community service and serve on the Cleveland Communications Board.
Professor Mark Vermilion believes that Silverman’s impact is never going to fade from the PR department, and, even as she retires, she will continue to have an influence in the Cleveland community and Lee students alike.
“This night has been about [Silverman’s] legacy, but this is nowhere near the final period to that legacy,” Vermilion said.