Forde receiving major public relations honor

John E. Forde

A long-serving Mississippi State department head and faculty member is among four scheduled to be inducted later this month into the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame.

Associate professor John E. Forde, head of the university's communication department since 2004 and a faculty member since 1987, formally will receive the honor with the three others during a special program July 25 at MSU's Mitchell Memorial Library.

With offices in Tupelo and a membership of more than 1,300, the Southern Public Relations Federation is a network of professionals in Alabama, North Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. It is considered the premier networking and professional development organization for its field in the Gulf South area.

Tickets are $50 each for the noon induction ceremony and luncheon in the library's John Grisham Room. Registration and other information are available at

Others being honored include:

-- Joseph W. Purka, North Florida-based vice president of Kirby-Smith Associates, a national financial and fund-raising service for Christian churches;

-- Philip A. Shirley, chairman and chief executive office of Jackson-based Godwin Group, a professional advertising, marketing and public relations firm; and

-- Shelia White, recently retired communications director at the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Campus.

SPRF president Kristina L. Hendrix said the organization "is proud to induct these very worthy individuals." She praised each for making "an incredible mark on the lives of those around them with their exceptional leadership and upstanding character.

"Their devotion to the profession of public relations, their communities and families has made them most deserving of this meritorious honor," Hendrix added.

Forde is a 1983 MSU communication/public relations graduate who went on to receive a master's degree in public relations and a doctorate in communication, both from the University of Southern Mississippi. He also is a graduate of Jones County Junior College and a former public relations director at William Carey College (now University) in Hattiesburg.

The MSU department he heads includes more than 500 majors and nearly 30 full-time faculty members. In addition to public relations, it offers academic concentrations in broadcasting, communication studies, journalism and theatre.

Over his professional career, Forde has received numerous other major honors, including being named in 2010 to the Public Relations Society of America's prestigious College of Fellows. Earlier this year, he also was appointed to the Universal Accreditation Board of PRSA and the UAB's Commission on Public Relations Education. (For additional biographical details, visit and

Information about the MSU communication department may be found at

Sammy McDavid | Public Affairs

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