The Department of Advertising and Public Relations was established in The University of Alabama School of Communication shortly after its inception in 1973. Created in response to a growing demand for a curriculum fully focused on advertising, the Department of Advertising and Public Relations quickly became the largest department in the school. At one point, more than half of all Communication students belonged to the department.

Arlyn Powell, an alumnus of The University of Alabama’s journalism program, served as the first chair of the department. When Powell made the decision to return to full-time teaching, Dr. Michael Hesse was appointed chair of the department. The Cincinnati native earned his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin and came to Alabama from the University of Maryland, where he taught public relations.

Since its inception, the Department of Advertising and Public Relations has continued to excel in preparing students for the highly competitive fields of creative and strategic communication.

In 2009, Dr. Joseph Phelps was named chair of the department after teaching in the College for more than 19 years. Under his leadership, the department has continued to grow and evolve to meet the needs of its students.


The mission of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations is to prepare highly competent, socially conscious and engaged leaders to shape the future of global advertising and public relations.