Chester Burger Scholarship for Excellence in Public Relations
This scholarship was created to encourage graduate public relations students to pursue careers in corporate public relations, with the goal of making the public relations function more essential to the successful achievement of corporate goals consistent with the public interest, the precepts of sound business and the needs of key stakeholders.
This scholarship is made possible by the PRSA Foundation; the Arthur W. Page Society; the Institute for Public Relations; and individual donors.
*Candidates must be enrolled or continuing in a graduate studies degree program in public relations, journalism or related fields, effective fall 2019.
*Candidates must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 out of 4.
*Candidates do not have to be a PRSSA member to apply. The award may be used at any U.S. college or university offering a graduate program in public relations or related field. Entries will be judged by a committee of three senior public relations professionals, each of whom will represent one of the three founding organizations for this award.
*A completed application form
*Letter of recommendation of no more than two pages from a faculty member or PRSSA Faculty or Professional Adviser
*One additional letter of recommendation of no more than two pages from an internship employer, educator or other individual who knows the applicant and can address his or her potential as a public relations counselor to management
*An essay of up to 1,000 words that cogently summarizes the applicant's views on why the corporate public relations function must be deeply engaged in C-Suite discussions and decisions affecting communication mandates that address corporate reputation, internal change management, brand and issue management, ethics, social responsibility and related areas. The essay requires minimal research in support of the applicant’s views, focusing primarily on the applicant’s strategic thinking and philosophical perspective. Chester Burger's professional career was devoted to assisting CEOs and Boards of Directors in understanding and applying professional public relations theory and practice to manage large-scale corporate issues in the public interest – issues that went far beyond publicity, media relations and marketing communications. The essay should also include brief comments on other academic work you feel will contribute strongly to your success in public relations, as well as list any honors or awards that you have received and leadership experience you have gained on or off campus.
About Chester Burger:
The founding donors of the Chester Burger Award fund emphasized that Burger has long been viewed as one of the pre-eminent leaders in the public relations profession, helping to shape the discipline of public relations counseling at major global corporations, and is revered for his personal dedication to generations of colleagues. He died on March 22, 2011, at the age of 90.
"Chet is the only person to have received the Institute for Public Relations’ Hamilton Medal for lifetime service and delivered our annual Distinguished Lecture — on the same evening," said Frank Ovaitt, IPR President and CEO. “His message that night reinforced how essential it is for public relations professionals to pursue truth and credibility in an era of disbelief. How fitting it is to again honor Chet — a true thought leader."
Former Arthur W. Page Society President Julia Hood said that Burger, who received the Page Society's Hall of Fame Award in 1992, represents the “highest standards” of the profession. “His influence extended across the industry and its leading organizations,” Hood said. “The Page Society is proud to team up with the IPR and the PRSA Foundation in honoring him in this way.”
Debbie Mason, APR, Fellow PRSA, past president of the PRSA Foundation Board of Trustees, said, “As the founding chair of The College of Fellows, Chet Burger helped PRSA establish the highest standards of ethics and professionalism. But I believe he will most be remembered for his personal support for literally hundreds of individuals throughout their careers. Chet provided counsel, advice and inspiration to generation after generation of public relations people and, in doing so, literally shaped the way our profession has evolved.”
Burger’s career is of legendary proportions, from being in the advanced guard of broadcast journalism to providing public relations counsel to America’s leading corporations. Burger, honored by the U.S. Information Agency with its award “For Outstanding Service to the United States” in 1995, was instrumental in establishing public relations as a management discipline and an integral part of the policymaking process of well-managed corporations. His insights and counsel were greatly prized by the owners and senior executives of public relations agencies small and large, earning him the title, “the counselors’ counselor.”
Burger joined the Columbia Broadcasting System in 1941 as a page boy. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He then returned to CBS as a “visualizer” (the first news readers) and developed methods for reporting world news on TV broadcasts in their early days. In April 1946, he became the nation's first television news reporter on CBS, and also served as the first president of the Radio-Newsreel-Television Working Press Association of New York.
Burger eventually became national manager of CBS Television News, leaving that position in 1955 to enter the public relations field with the Ruder Finn agency, and then as president of Communications Counselors, Inc. later founding his own firm, Chester Burger and Co. Inc. During a 24-year period, his clients included American Bankers Association, Sears Roebuck, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing, Communications Satellite Corporation, American Cancer Society, Occidental Petroleum, Texas Instruments and Bell Canada. He was especially proud of his relationship with AT&T, where he was a consultant to management for 33 years. The Telephone Pioneers of America elected him an Honorary Member — one of only two persons honored who was not a former Bell System employee.
After what he called “retirement” in 1988, he became counsel to James E. Arnold Consultants, Inc., the successor firm to his company, and continued with a wide range of professional and volunteer work. In 1990, Burger became the founding chair of the PRSA College of Fellows and guided the organization in its initial years. He served as an advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs. In August 2010, the Air Force presented him with its highest civilian award. His relationship with the CIA has continued for several decades, culminating in multiple awards of recognition for meritorious service to the nation.
Giving back to the country was a Burger trademark. During the years of the civil rights movement, he served the National Urban League as an officer and member of its Board of Trustees. He was a founder of the Black Executive Exchange Program, and received the Outstanding Mentor Award for “21 years of counsel and support to minorities in public relations.” The United Negro College Fund awarded him its Distinguished Service Citation.
He was author of six books on management subjects, including “The Chief Executive.” And in 2007, he published a book that reflected his lifelong passion for New York City and its history, “Unexpected New York,” which featured his photos and historical text. His lifetime papers are in The Center for American History at The University of Texas in Austin.