Bison Hill spotlight: Public relations professor appreciated by students

Robyn Kuylen, Contributing Writer

     For the past eight years, OBU has had the privilege of an alumni as part of the adjunct staff; Ann McNellis graduated from OBU in the year 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in public relations.

     Throughout her time here, her students have loved being a part of her classes, and she is a favorite teacher for many communication and non-communication majors.
“I have been an adjunct professor since 2010, so I am in my eighth-year teaching,” she said.

     “The advisor I had when I was at OBU, Anne Hammond, asked me if I would be interested in teaching a class.  I tried it and loved it.  They haven’t gotten rid of me yet!” McNellis said.

     At OBU, she teaches English Composition both the first and second semester, as well as Contemporary Public Relations, Advertising, Public Relations Writing, and Public Relations Case Studies.

“The English classes are fun to teach because freshman always have interesting ideas and are excited about starting their college career,” she said.

“I [also] love teaching the communication classes.  It is a field that I always enjoyed working in, so getting to share my knowledge and enjoyment of the field is great,” McNellis said.  “I also really like giving real life scenarios as assignments and see what the students come up with. They are usually very creative and well done.”

Students share the impact Ann Mcnellis had in their public relations and advertising classes.

Kaylyn Medcalf is a 2016 graduate, currently working in Shawnee as a Communications Specialist.

 “What I really enjoyed about her classes is that she always had a ‘real life’ experience or example to go with the subject on hand; meaning, the classes were not just reading out of a textbook and memorizing definitions,” Medcalf said.

“For example, in one of her PR classes we would watch commercials and talk about what was being used to portray specific emotions and appeals,” Medcalf said.

“We did that almost every day of the semester… and still to this day; I can remember almost all the different aspects to those commercials and how advertisement affects Americans.”

Jordan Fraser is a 2016 graduate currently working toward a Masters of Public Administration and a teacher’s assistant at the University of Oklahoma.

“I enjoyed two parts [the] most,” Fraser said.

“First, learning to write press releases. It’s simpler than I was expecting, and it’s practical. Second, planning a hypothetical PR campaign. We started from the big-picture level and worked down to the smallest details. It was an effective teaching exercise,” Fraser said.

Fraser also praises the basic character and personality of McNellis.

“Professor McNellis is a personable, extroverted teacher. Her classes focus on business and nonprofit communication practices. She has a project-oriented style,” Fraser said.

McNellis has a way of incorporating real life scenarios to her students that have impacted their lives.

“Her class will impact me in a lot of ways, but the main way is making sure I know what I am doing in the work force with things related to PR,” a current communication studies senior Meagan Hill said.

“And I will be able to write the best press release out there.”

Hill said she is excited to begin her career and she is happy to know she is learning everything McNellis has to offer about Public Relations before she gets into the ‘real world.’

“Her classes were very practical,” a recent graduate and managing director of three newspapers, Lia Hillman said.

“Even working for newspapers, I’ve used a lot of the skills I learned from Mrs. McNellis’ PR, writing and advertising classes,”  she said.

McNellis is also a full-time mother of three kids (ages 12, 9, and five) and has been married to her husband for sixteen years.

“Trying to do the best job possible at being a professor, but also being a wife and mom is definitely the most challenging thing I do,” McNellis said.

“We have a really busy life keeping up with our kids and personal activities, so the work / life balance can be hard,” she said.

“I always work on my classes when my kids are at school Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”

Balancing both can really be tough but McNellis has proven her capabilities and won the Seven Who Care Faculty Award last spring.

“Professor McNellis was one of my favorite professors while at OBU,” Hillman said.

“She always had a smile on her face and truly cared about her students, which is why she was one of the recipients of the Seven Who Care,”

All the knowledge gained from McNellis has changed the life of these students.

They all shared the same sentiments about McNellis preparing them for the ‘real world,’ gaining ‘real life’ experiences ahead of time and realizing how practical this information was when dealing with public relations.

This is a teacher who has really made a difference at OBU and will continue to do so for the years to come. Check out her spring classes in Banner.

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