Gayle Kerr receives inaugural Don Schultz IMC Award


Kaavya Butaney/The Daily Northwestern

Medill Prof. Danielle Robinson Bell hosted multiple panels of Medill alumni, including Christyna Conway and Cierra Yetts, during the IMC event last night.

Kaavya Butaney, Reporter

Queensland Institute of Technology Prof. Gayle Kerr received the inaugural Don Schultz Award for Innovation in Teaching, Theory and Practice of Integrated Marketing Communication on Thursday.

The award — created by the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications — honors the late Medill Prof. Don Schultz, who helped create the first graduate-level integrated marketing communications department and pioneered the field. Medill grants the award to IMC professors or professionals who develop new methods of communicating and generating revenue. 

“Don’s always been a part of my academic life — marking my Ph.D. thesis, working on research together and even coming down to Australia to inspire my students,” Kerr said. “Winning an award of the name of someone who set the whole trajectory of my career is like Don’s final endorsement.”

Kerr has received various accolades throughout her career, such as the 2017 Australian Awards for University Teaching Excellence Award, the country’s highest university teaching honor. She was also the only non-American to win the Billy I. Ross Advertising Education Award in 2012.

Heidi Schultz, Don Schultz’s wife, spoke about her husband’s legacy and his commitment to teaching.

“Some of you, at least once in all the years in between, have woken up in the middle of the night with an image of Schultz looming over you bellowing, ‘Who cares?’ in response to your brilliantly crafted communication plan,” Heidi Schultz said.

She said Don Schultz’s greatest passion was teaching, and he wanted the award to celebrate his favorite profession.

After Heidi Schultz spoke, she presented the award with Medill Associate Dean Vijay Viswanathan . Kerr discussed the history of IMC and her vision for the field’s future.

“Don encouraged us to say academics and practitioners alike must reach the clouds, lest we be buried in the graveyard of the past,” Kerr said. “(We need) new, new thinking. It’s time to start a revolution. Who wants to join me?”

Medill Prof. and IMC Professional Program Director Danielle Robinson Bell also moderated a panel with Christyna Conway (Medill ’21) and Cierra Yetts (Medill ’19). Conway and Yetts, who both work at Pinterest, discussed the Northwestern alumni network and the IMC program’s impact on their careers.

David Zitlow (Medill ’92), general manager of health at public relations firm Edelman, also spoke about his career and experience learning with Don Schultz.

“I have to admit, when (Heidi Schultz) said, ‘Who cares?’ the hair on the back of my neck stood up,” Zitlow said. “I have to acknowledge the impact that Prof. Schultz had not only on my education, but on my career.”

Zitlow talked about the social responsibility companies hold toward their consumers and employees, highlighting his client Vaseline’s recent advertisement campaign. The lotion company launched a database designed specifically for people of color to research skin conditions and access proper health care.

BMO Harris BankChief Communications and Social Impact Officer Kimberley Goode (Medill ’87) wrapped up the panel by discussing social impact in the corporate world. She highlighted the importance of her journalism degree in prioritizing accuracy and credibility in her work.

To close the event, Medill Dean Charles Whitaker thanked the speakers and Kerr.

“I am ready to join the revolution,” Whitaker said. “You’ve given me lots of ideas for going out and spreading the gospel of IMC in the academy and beyond.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @kaavya_butaney

Related Stories:

Medill profs pinpoint voter population that may not be represented in polls 

Purple Profile: IMC alumna brings advertising experience to new global marketing post 

Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications celebrates 100 years